THE BOOK: The Ice Dragon
PUBLISHED IN: 2013
THE AUTHOR: Lauren Scharhag
THE EDITOR: Self.
THE PUBLISHER: Self.
SUMMARY: There’s nothing Kenneth Vogel hates more than Christmas. Then he meets a dragon. Suddenly, Christmas doesn’t seem so bad . . .
THE BACK STORY: There are two sources of inspiration for this story. First, was Neil Gaiman’s short-short story “Nicholas Was.” (Read it– it’s less than 100 words.) I first read the story in his collection, Smoke and Mirrors. It included a brief introduction in which Gaiman said he wrote it as a Christmas card to send out to close friends. Ever since, I’ve been enamored with the idea of writing Christmas stories to give away as gifts. My favorite gifts have always been handmade. Mind you, my stories will never be 100 words or less, or even 1,000 words or less– that’s just not how I roll. Well, “The Ice Dragon” was my first successful attempt. (The next year, I wrote The Winter Prince. I’m hoping to write at least one more someday, so I’ll have a nice little box set.)
The other source of inspiration was my co-author, Coyote Kishpaugh. Way, way back when we first sat down to start writing the Order of the Four Sons series, we had a good-natured argument. Coyote, as an old-school fantasy geek, wanted dragons somewhere in the story. I didn’t. I thought it was too cliché. Anything but dragons, I said. The argument went something like this:
Me: No. No dragons.
He: Just one dragon?
Me: NO! No dragons!
He: Just a little dragon?
Me: NO! DRAGONS! EVER!
We’ve stuck to the No Dragon rule in O4S– zombies, fairies, mermaids, chimeras, undead psychopaths, yes. But no dragons. So, for my first Christmas story, I wrote this little dragon story for him to read to his kids, who, at the time, were still young enough to enjoy such things.
WHY THIS TITLE?: The dragon in question breathes ice as well as fire.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Um, hello? There’s a DRAGON. In case you weren’t aware of this little thing called Game of Thrones, all the cool kids are into dragons.
For realsies, though, it’s a classic children’s story, in which an underdog makes a great friend and goes on a journey with real stakes. Lessons are learned, some new understanding about life is achieved, and there’s even a bit of humor. It’s something adults can enjoy right alongside their little ones.
“Absolutely enchanting . . . My 10 year old student absolutely loves this book.” –Amazon reader
“Brilliantly woven and heartrending, a thoroughly enjoyable expedition. I’m not going to compare it to other books, the style was unique to me. Do buy this book, it’s not only good, I dare to say it’s important.” –Amazon reader.
“Scharhag packs a lot of action and adventure within the pages of this short book. Primarily written for youngsters, it is an endearing story that parents and grandparents alike will enjoy as well. The descriptive passages bring to life the dragon’s lair and the ice swan and this reviewer wanted the story to go on. So will you!” –Amazon reader.
AUTHOR PROFILE: Lauren Scharhag is the author of Under Julia, The Winter Prince, and West Side Girl & Other Poems, and the co-author of The Order of the Four Sons series. Her work has appeared in multiple magazines and anthologies. She is the recipient of the Gerard Manley Hopkins Award for poetry and a fellowship from Rockhurst University for fiction. When not writing, she can be found hanging out in prisons or embarking on art pilgrimages. A recent transplant to the Florida Panhandle, she lives with her husband and three cats.
SAMPLE CHAPTER: Gracie led him over to the tree, where one package remained, wrapped in silver wrapping paper with a blue ribbon.
Gracie picked it up and handed it to him. “Here,” she said. “This is for you.”
Somewhat awkwardly, he opened it. Inside was a solid gold ornament of a swan. Inscribed on the back was, Merry Christmas from the Calls.
“Look,” Gracie said, taking the swan from him and looping it on the blue ribbon from his present. “You can wear it like this. And look—”
She took his hand and led him through the dining area. She went up to the table where her father was sitting and removed two of the holly wreaths from the centerpieces. Then she led him through the dining area, off to the side of the lobby, through a pair of glass doors.
They stepped outside into a kind of little flagstone courtyard, enclosed by a wrought-iron rail. It was very quiet. They couldn’t even hear the band playing inside. In the spring, it must have made a pretty little garden, though at the moment, there were just little evergreens in the stone pots, trimmed with ribbons. It was very cold. The black wrought-iron was icy, its pointed spokes encased in a thick, crystal layer. But Gracie didn’t seem to mind the cold, so he didn’t either.
They walked over and stood beside the rail. “This is my favorite place,” Gracie said. She took one of the holly wreaths and put it on his head. “I crown you the Christmas King,” she said. Then she put a wreath on her own head. “And I’ll be the Christmas Queen.”
At that moment, a light snow began to fall. Both children looked up, Kenneth astonished, and Gracie pleased. As they looked, both of their hands touched the rail.
Suddenly, the railing moved. They jumped back as it rose and curved up, the spokes forming the ridges on a lizard-like back. Clawed feet appeared, a pair of bat-like wings, and finally, a head. It turned towards them, blinking, its nostrils quivering.
The mouth opened, revealing a slithery black tongue. Fire shot out.
It was not a very big dragon, only a little bigger than a cat, so there was not a lot of fire, but all the same, Gracie screamed, and she and Kenneth jumped back.
The fire melted the dragon’s wrought-iron center so it flowed like molten black blood, flooding the icy body with darkness. The black solidified into hard, rubbery scales, the ice melting into a mottled blue and white pattern over the black.
It stood for a moment, still balanced on the wrought-iron poles that made up the gate, and then the dragon lifted one great forepaw, then a rear paw, flexing, seeming to test its new body. Then it yawned, stretching like a cat, its rear arching into the air, claws splayed.
At last, it sat up on its forepaws and turned to Kenneth and Gracie, blinking its great black eyes. It flicked its black tongue, and lashed its long, blue-white tail, which had one great black spike on the end of it.
“Thank you, children,” the dragon whispered in a low, purring voice. “I’ve been asleep ever so long, and now, I would like nothing more . . . than a snack.”
With that, it leapt off the gate, spreading its webby black wings, and launched itself straight at them.
Both Kenneth and Gracie yelled this time, and leapt out of the way. But the dragon was not after them.
With a snort of its great nostrils, steam shot out and gusted the glass doors open. The dragon flew inside the shopping center.
Kenneth and Gracie stared after it for a moment, utterly aghast. Then ran in after it.
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PRICE: e-books – $2.99
Paperback – $9.99
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