Bold Strokes Books author D. Jackson Leigh is here.
She’s giving away a copy of her latest fantasy novel Seer and the Shield and Swelter, a romance, to one lucky winner. More details are below.
Please welcome D. Jackson Leigh.
The Dragons Inside Us
It’s not the destination, but the journey that’s important.
It’s been said a hundred different ways by dozens of authors, philosophers, poets, scholars, and writers of both songs and speeches. No matter how you pen it, I now believe it to be truth.
“Seer and the Shield, Book III of the Dragon Horse War” was released this month by Bold Strokes Books – the completion of a six-year journey for me. It began with a weird convergence of inexplicable dreams about dragons and my concern over society’s growing lack of civility and emerging “me first” culture.
Fantasy has often been used as a vehicle for social commentary, and the Dragon Horse War trilogy began as my sermon about the righteous intolerance of religions – no matter what your beliefs. Each proclaims to hold the only truth, and focuses on a glorious reward when your destination is reached. Yet too many of their believers stray far in their journey from the intent of their teachings.
In my imaginary world, the great religions had gone to war and wiped out each other. Society had been reborn with one world government that ensured every citizen received basic sustenance, health care and education. People still worked for luxury credits, and crimes were still committed because humans were still flawed by jealousy and gluttony. Still, no citizen was hungry or ignorant or medical care. The population came together The Collective belief that celebrates diversity because it takes different many different interlocking pieces to complete life’s puzzle.
I felt righteous in my crusade when I began to type out that first book, “The Calling.”
Then a funny thing began to happen.
To fully develop characters, you have to slip into the minds and perspective of each. You have to see the world, the scene from their point of view. And, a good novel must have conflict – internal and external – to explore and resolve. The puzzle of conflict keeps the plot moving and the reader engaged. Often, it keeps the writer engaged, too. When you step into the shoes of these different characters, you try to understand their motivation. Why do they feel this way? What do they see that the opposite character doesn’t?
The noble First Warrior Jael, a pyro and prime telepath, is all about finding and incinerating the guy instigating an uprising that is threatening to end to more than a hundred years of world peace. Advocate Alyssa, who turns out to be a powerful empath, doesn’t believe an act of violence can restore peace. Their journey, ordered by The Collective’s Council of Elders, is to work together to restore world peace. To do this, each must come to understand how the other views the world.
Fantasy is about good versus evil. The good guys wear white, the bad guys are in black. But as Jael’s heart opened to more than duty and battle and Alyssa began to understand that you can’t reason with madmen, the lines began to gray.
By the time I’d finished “The Calling,” I knew I had to throw out my original outline for the subsequent books. The characters had hijacked my story, or maybe I’d just taken my eyes off the destination and finally let my characters lead me on a personal journey.
That journey held lessons for the good guys as much as the bad guys. The Dragon Horse War trilogy is about love, honor, and respect for another’s right to hold beliefs different from yours.
What did my three-book journey teach me, personally?
I discovered I should listen more and rant less. I began with the intention of pointing out the dragons in other people, only to discover my own hidden deep inside. My grandmother always said “sweep around your own doorstep before you point to someone else’s.” Several religious texts allude to something about removing the plank from your own eye before taking the splinter from another’s. Good advice.
I learned a few other things, too.
Creating worlds and remembering the details from book to book, over a six-year period is really hard unless you organize meticulous notes. Which I didn’t.
Also, after spending most of my free time flying dragons and moving armies around, I discovered fantasy doesn’t sell as well as romance because it has a smaller audience. Much smaller.
But, being a pyro warrior is way cool, and dragon horses are a lot of fun.
And – saving the best for last – sex between a telepath and an empath is amazingly intense, but sex with a warrior whose dragon horse is in season is hotter than dragon breath.
Answering some questions/comments I received from early readers:
- I supervised a night copy desk for ten years during the time Xena was popular, so I’ve only seen a few episodes since realizing there was a reason for so many lesbian stories with a tall, dark-haired, blue-eyed character and a short blonde with green eyes. But those episodes seemed sort of campy to me – like the original Star Trek series would seem to someone who wasn’t around when it originally aired and wouldn’t recognize how groundbreaking it was at the time. So, Xena didn’t influence this trilogy.
- Although I’m thoroughly in love with Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons, I never watched a single episode of The Game of Thrones until I had turned in the last edits on book three and listened to the GoTH audiobooks in December, then binge-watched all seven seasons this month. Otherwise, my dragon horses might have been more dragon than horses. I want a dragon. I also want a pet pig, but my homeowners association forbids pigs, so I’m sure they won’t let me keep a dragon.
- I won’t deny that I was a fan of Anne McCaffrey’s dragons of Pern and still have several of her books on my shelves. I haven’t read them in thirty years, but it is possible that my unconscious brain still remembers.
SEER AND THE SHIELD
Dragon Horse War Book 3
When The Natural Order’s focus shifts from evangelism to a grab for world dominance, the outcome of the Dragon Horse War depends on two unlikely heroines—an anti-social quartermaster and a reticent seer.
Lt. Antonia only trusts a neat row of figures or a complete inventory list. So when she suddenly finds herself responsible for a group of hostages kidnapped by the dangerous cult, she’s reluctant to give any credence to the visions of Maya, a beautiful seer. The two women struggle to trust in each other’s abilities, but still are inexplicably drawn together by an attraction that burns hotter than dragon breath.
MEET THE AUTHOR
D. Jackson Leigh grew up barefoot and happy, swimming in farm ponds and riding rude ponies in rural south Georgia. She is a career journalist, but has found her real passion in writing sultry lesbian romances laced with her trademark Southern humor and affection for horses.
She has published 10 novels and one collection of short stories with Bold Strokes Books, winning a 2010 Alice B. Lavender Award for Noteworthy Accomplishment, and three Golden Crown Literary Society awards in paranormal, romance and fantasy categories. She also was a finalist for three more GCLS awards, and in the romance category of the 2014 Lambda Literary Society Awards.
CONNECT WITH D. JACKSON LEIGH
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D. JACKSON LEIGH
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Thanks so much for stopping by today.
Best of luck to everyone who enters the giveaway.
Have a great weekend!