Friday, July 22, 2011

Fiction Friday: Dragons!!!

When I was five years old, there was this two-part made for tv version of "Alice in Wonderland."  I watched the first part with my family.  However, I didn't see the second part until I was practically an adult and they were showing it again on the Disney Channel (back when the Disney Channel was awesome and not drizzled in Hannah Montana and Suite Life reruns).  The reason why I didn't watch the second part when I was five was because at the end of the first part, this dude in a ridiculous looking Jabberwocky costume came out and scared Alice, me, and about a gazbillion other young children completely out of our wits.

Now, I've watched this movie in the past year, and I have to say that the only thing I find remotely frightening about the Jabberwocky now is that he slightly resembles Barney the Dinosaur.  The costume was so fake it was laughable.  Only, when I was a kid, it was terrifying.  It scared me so badly that I refused to watch the second part with my family.  Instead, I locked myself inside my bedroom and hid under the covers.  I probably had my fingers in my ears, too.  There was no way I was going to see or hear that DRAGON.

Because that's what I thought it was.  I think my mom tried to explain it to me that the creature was a Jabberwocky, and not a Dragon.  But you can't fool a five year old.  That was no Jabberwocky.  That thing had scaly skin and big wicked eyes.  It had spikes down it's spine and leathery wings on its back.  It had a cruel tail that dragged the floor as the actor waddled across the screen--but in my child's mind, that tail was huge and deadly.  And it breathed smoke and growled.  I didn't care how many times my mother pled Jabberwocky.  That thing was a Dragon.

And Dragons are scary.

It didn't matter how fake that thing looked.  To an imaginative five year old, it was the scariest creature on the face of the earth.  That's the impression it made on me.  That's the impression Dragons still kinda sorta make on me.  Only now I think being scared out of my wits can sometimes be a good thing.

I remember seeing other Dragons in other movies.  The Disney Sleeping Beauty (best scene in the whole movie) is classic.  You've got a purely evil (how's that for an oxymoron) character who becomes a creature that is typically thought of as the ultimate evil creature.  Then she's defeated through the Shield of Virtue and the Sword of Truth--and Prince Phillip's shield has a cross on it--the Christian imagery is undeniable.  I like that.

And then there's one of my old favorites--Smaug, the Dragon from Tolkien's classic The Hobbit.  I didn't read The Hobbit until I was an adult, but I remember watching the old Rankin-Bass cartoon.  I'm not sure why Smaug didn't scare me like the silly Jabberwocky.  Maybe it was because the animated Gollum scared the willies out of me, so the Dragon was no biggie compared to him.  Anyway, Smaug was probably my first introduction to the idea of a Dragon having a hoard--something that became a VERY important theme in the first novel I ever wrote, but I'm getting way ahead of myself.  I remember being so fascinated by this creature.  I don't even know if I can put it all into words.  He was inside a mountain that could only be entered via a secret cave.  He protected gold that he had stolen.  His eyes were like lamps (at least in the cartoon) that tried to seek out Bilbo, who was hidden by the magic of the Ring.  And when Bilbo "burgled something" from Smaug, the Dragon's rage was so incredible.  And he could only be killed if an arrow struck him in the one weak spot in his hard Dragon flesh.  I think my true love of Dragons began with him.

But I never was too keen on the whole all Dragons are the pinnacle of evil idea.  One of my favorite movies as a kid was "Pete's Dragon."  Elliot isn't the stereotypical Dragon at all.  In fact, he's kind of ridiculous and silly.  But Elliot did something important for me, because even as a child, I realized that Dragons weren't just scary.  Sometimes they were protectors.  This also became a theme in my writing about Dragons, but yeah...still getting ahead of myself.

I could say that I'm not sure what led to my eventual Dragon obsession, but that would be a lie.  I know exactly what led to my obsession.  In my early twenties, I had a dream about a Dragon that changed my life.  In this dream, I had to face a Dragon that, now that I think about it, looked a lot like that silly fake Jabberwocky.  I don't want to go too much into it, but the dream had to do with me facing my fears.  This dream greatly inspired my first book, and it remains an important theme in my life.  And that's all I want to say about that at the moment.

But after became truly OBSESSED with Dragons, I read the Eragon books (or the ones that have come out.  Still working on that Inheritance Trilogy Cycle, Paolini??).  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader became my favorite Narnia book (not just because of the Dragon, but it certainly helped).  I got WAY excited that there was a Dragon in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (can't wait to see it in theaters next week--yes, I know I'm a little behind the rest of the world).  I even read a Christian series about Dragons that my friend Stefanie recommended (and let me borrow).  I highly recommend Donita K. Paul's Dragon Keeper Chronicles.

And then, of course, I have my Dragon-Muses, my team of SIX Dragons that inspire my writing.  I haven't been spending much time with them lately, and I know they're very mad at me for not writing and editing much.  The only one who's been talking to me much at all lately is Dravaena, and that's because she's my lyrical Muse and I'm on some kind of cool song-writing kick.  These songs?  Also about fear.  Just sayin'.

So far my Dragon-Muses have helped me write three books.  All three have been in some way about Dragons.  I have tried writing other books that weren't about Dragons, and so far that hasn't worked out so well (but I'm not sure if that's because the Dragon-Muses don't like it, or just because I suck as a writer, or both).  I guess I'm just obsessed, and well, I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing.  Because Dragons are mysterious, awesome creatures.  And I intend to keep reading and writing about them as much as possible.

Do you like Dragons?  (Yes, Trogdor counts.)

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