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Dragons Beyond the Pale by Maria Grace ~ guest post

 I'm happy to have Maria on the blog today with a guest post about the many rabbit holes she went down while researching for this newest book in Jane Austen's Dragons. 


Book Blurb: Smugglers. A kidnapping. A fire-breathing fairy dragon? The Blue Order is falling apart at the seams.

After months in Bath mentoring Dragon Keepers and Friends, Dragon Sage Elizabeth Darcy actually anticipates traveling to London for the Keeper’s Cotillion. Which says a great deal considering the she-dragons who make up the Cotillion board would very much like to show the Sage her proper place.

The she-dragons, though, are no match for what Sir Fitzwilliam Darcy finds waiting for him in London. Threats to the Order on every side, and Lord Matlock demands he keep them secret from Elizabeth. No one keeps secrets from Elizabeth.

In the meantime, Anne and Frederick Wentworth arrive in London with hopes of finally being accepted in good Blue Order society, unaware of the burgeoning maelstrom about to engulf them.

Darcy manages to keep matters under control until a fairy-dragon’s prank unleashes sinister forces who perpetrate an unthinkable crime that could spell the end of the Pendragon Accords and usher in a new age of dragon war.

Can Elizabeth and Darcy, with the Wentworths’ help, restore balance to the Blue Order before the dragons decide to take matters into their own talons and right the wrongs themselves?


                                    


Hi Tina! It’s great to be able to visit with you and share a little about the research that has impacted my dragon series.


Now wait, stop. My mom-sense just went off and I swear, I can see you rolling your eyes and hear you muttering, “Dragons? Really? Seriously—dragons? Please tell me she didn’t just say dragons!”

Well yeah, I’m sorry. I really did say dragons. You’re not the first to roll their eyes at me and mutter. Moreover, you’re probably expecting an answer like “Because zombies, vampires and werewolves have already been done.” And while that is utterly true, and the sort of thing I might say if you caught me at just the right—or wrong—moment, I’d really like to offer a better—or at least less snarky—answer than that.

But believe it or not, I really do have an excellent answer. You’re rolling your eyes at me again—cut it out—and hear me out. There’s a very good reason to consider dragons. If you take a glance at English mythology, it is FULL OF DRAGONS. Seriously, they are everywhere, some days it feels like you can’t swing a cat without hitting one.

Take for example, The Dragon of Loschy hill.

I was minding my own business, researching the Nunnington Estate to use as a possible Dragon Keeping Estate in the latest book when I discovered, low and behold, there was actually a dragon there already! I still get chill bumps thinking about it.

The legend of the Dragon of Loschy Hill was described in the 1888 book ‘Yorkshire Legends and Traditions’ by Rev Thomas Parkinson. While this is slightly outside the timeframe of my books, the legend dates back far before my stories begin, so, fair game, right?

Parkinson writes:

In the church of Nunnington, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, is an ancient tomb, surmounted by the figure of a knight in armour, in a recumbent posture, the legs crossed, the feet resting against a dog, the hands apparently clasping a heart, but no inscription to determine to whom the monument belongs. The traditional account current in the neighbourhood is that it is the tomb of Peter Loschy, a famous warrior, whose last exploit was killing a huge serpent, or dragon, which infested the country, and had its den on a wooded eminence called Loschy Hill, near East Newton, in the parish of Stonegrave.

The details of the combat, as related by tradition, are as follows:

Having determined to free the country from the pest, the redoubted Peter Loschy had a suit of armour prepared, every part of it being covered with razor-blades set with the edges outwards; and thus defended, armed only with his sword, and accompanied by a faithful dog, he went forth to seek the destroyer, which he quickly found in a thicket on Loschy Hill.

The dragon, glad of another victim, darted upon the armed man, notwithstanding a wound from his sword, and folded itself around his body, intending, no doubt, as it had often done before, to squeeze its victim to death, and afterwards to devour it at leisure; but in this it was disappointed. The razor-blades were keen, and pierced it in every part, and it quickly uncoiled itself again, when, to the great surprise of the knight, as soon as it rolled on the ground its wounds instantly healed, and it was strong and vigorous as ever; and a long and desperate fight ensued between the knight and the serpent, without much advantage to either. At length the sword of the knight severed a large portion of the serpent, which the dog quickly snatched up in his mouth, adn ran across the valley with it nearly a mile, and there left it on a hill near Nunnington Church, and immediately returned to the scene of combat, and, snatching up another fragment, cut off in the same manner, conveyed it to the same place, and returned again and again for other fragments until they were all removed, the last portion conveyed being the poisonous head. The knight, now rejoicing at his victory, stooped to pat and praise his faithful dog; the latter, overjoyed, looked up and licked the knight’s face, when, sad to relate, the poison of the serpent imbibed by the dog was inhaled by the knight, and he fell down dead in the moment of victory, and the dog also died by the side of his master.

The villagers buried the body of the knight in Nunnington Church, and placed a monument over the grave, on which were carved the figures of the knight and his faithful dog, to witness to the truth of the story.

There are different accounts about the fine details of exactly what sort of dragon it was (though many retellings call it a wyrm), whether or not it liked to binge drink milk, whether it damaged crops or ate villagers (or both), and how exactly Peter and his dog were poisoned, all the legends end the same way. The dragon, knight, and dog all were dead at the end of the encounter.

Here’s where it gets especially interesting. There is actually a grave in the Church of All Saints and St. James in Nunnington with the effigy of a knight and animals which are probably most properly identified as lions, but some might see dogs there. The grave dates to the 1300’s and is said to be Sir Walter de Teyes, Lord of Stonegrave Manor, joint Governor of York with Robert de Hastings in 1309.

What makes that so interesting? For me, in crafting the Blue Order world, I see the ideal opportunity for the Blue Order to have crafted a myth to cover up a very real dragon which could have suddenly disappeared from the countryside after officially allying itself with the order and establishing a Keeper relationship with the master of Nunnington estate. A bit of a stretch, maybe, but, that’s all it takes to get a writer thinking. And when you get a writer thinking…


Author Bio: Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16 year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences.

She blogs at Random Bits of Fascination, mainly about her fascination with Regency era history and its role in her fiction. Her newest novel, The Trouble to Check Her, was released in March, 2016. Her books, fiction and nonfiction, are available at all major online booksellers.



Website: Jane Austen’s Dragons (https://www.JaneAustensDragons.com )
Amazon: Dragons Beyond the Pale (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09255L534)
Jane Austen’s Dragons Series (https://www.amazon.com/gp/bookseries/B071DNSYV8)
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