Interview of Tracy Hickman, Author of Song of the Dragon

Tuesday, February 22, 2011
In conjunction with my signed giveaway of Tracy Hickman's Song of the Dragon (which closes on the 24th), I interviewed Tracy. Enjoy!

(AA) As I said in my review of Song of the Dragon, I love your twist on mythical creatures—creatures that are normally cast as evil (manticores, chimera, etc) are the good guys. While creatures like that are normally pure (elves) become the villains. What inspired such a drastically different perspective from the common perception of Tolkienesque angelic elves and other creatures?

(TRH) I believe that reading should -- on some level -- be uncomfortable and by that I mean challenge the way we think. A little cognitive dissonance is a good thing, helping us to grow in our thought and perspective on the world. Speculative fiction has long been the province of presenting new ideas in a 'safer' form by setting the more difficult issues in a fantastical setting -- but having been in fantasy for most of my professional life I like the idea of the stereotypes of fantasy also being turned on their head and a little uncomfortable as well.

(AA) Is your take on Dragons as drastically different as your take on Elves? Can you give us a description of your dragons? If not, how about just a glimpse?

(TRH) We will be visiting the dragons of the northern lands extensively in our second book which I am just finishing now. What intrigues me the most about the northern dragons is that they are not unified but have political factions within their ranks -- they are not united by any means. Their high level of telepathic communication also has presented a number of narrative problems and the central question of the dragons betrayal of humanity is finally addressed. It has made for some intriguing dragons as characters.

(AA) I love the interplay between the villains Ch’drei and Soen. The very last chapter, you hint that Chi’drei’s betrayal might have pushed Soen over to the good guy’s camp. Any backstory from their long past you’d like to share?

(TRH) Soen and Ch'drei certainly have a long and somewhat checkered history, it is true but I think I would like to leave that in the mists of the past. The tower on a distant hill is a romantic vision -- compelling and filled with wonder -- until we visit it, wander it's dusty halls and blow at the cobwebs. Then it become 'real' to us but loses it's romance.

(AA) The gnomes in your books are very simple creatures that have no possessions except for the stories they tell. Because they have no possessions, they are nearly impossible to corrupt. In contrast, the Elves are rich beyond imaginings and seem to be constantly vying for more. Do you think this is true in real life? What do you think we should do about it?

(TRH) I believe that there is far more to life than being defined by the things we own ... which in turn seem to own us. While I am hardly one to run off to Walden Pond and live in a shack, I believe that we are defined more by our stories and our relationships than by our possessions. So I do believe that on a basic level that being obsessed with our 'precious' possessions -- 'precious' in the Gollum sense most certainly -- holds us like an anchor to the ground when we should be soaring instead. As to what should be done about it ... I think that is part of each one's personal mythic cycle through their lives; to rise above the mundane and reach for higher perspective and ideals.

(AA) What’s the one question you think someone should ask you and never does? (yes, I’m cheating)

(TRH) The one question I'm never asked is "Why are you a Mormon?" Religion and faith are taboo subjects these days and the very idea that there might be an answer to a religious question seems to be frightening to interviewers.

(AA) Tell us about your next project? Could you share your first 13 lines from Book 2?

(TRH) Right now I am engaged in far too many projects but I can tell you that I am finishing the second Drakis novel at the moment. I have a number of book projects this year coming up but I am perhaps most excited about our Scribe's Forge Writing Seminars and Workshops. After over thirty years as a professional fantasy writer we believe it is time to pass on what we know of the craft to a new generation of writers.

Here are the first two paragraphs (from the original manuscript, unedited) of the second Drakis book: Citadels of the Lost.

"The throats of a thousand dragons answered the call.

Drakis took several steps back from the towering statue, awestruck by the shapes rising from the craggy peaks beyond. He glanced back at the statue, the craning neck with the ridge of scales curving down to the horn-spiked head with blade-like long teeth onto the ancient marble base, the enormous stone wings rising straight up over a hundred feet, and the gigantic claws gripping the glowing crystal globes. His eyes jumped back to the mountaintops and the shadows pulling their way closer to him through the evening sky. Dragons ... real dragons! Even from this distance of several leagues he could make out some details of the enormous monsters, their great wings sweeping forward and scooping the air down and back with every stroke. The sound of their shrieking calls rolled down the mountainside and shook the wide pedestal on which he stood, carrying away with it every other sensation. It encompassed him, shot through him and drowned out everything else. Somewhere nearby the muffled voice of Urulani shouted through the noise, calling her men to gather closer around the statue and ready their weapons. What were their names, he vaguely thought. The dwarf, he knew, was also shouting nearby but his voice sounded more distant that the dragon calls and his movements somehow slow. Ethis was pulling at the dwarf, dragging him back on to the pedestal and closer to the fold – the magical portal sphere of radiant blue light that had opened at the base of the statue. Beyond the portal fold and through its shining blue haze he could see a land of dense foliage and distant towers but it seemed so very far away. Mala lay sobbing hysterically at his feet..."

Ohhh, I don't know if I can stand the wait! I love dragons. And I'm excited to see Tracy's take on them--especially since he's known to twist our preconceived notions on their heads.

Thanks so much, Tracy, for giving me the opportunity to interview you about your fantastic new series!

If any of you have a chance, sign up for his workshops. I had an opportunity to take one of Tracy's classes at the recent conference, and I can say without a doubt it was the best one I participated in.

Also, make sure you're all signed up to win the signed, hardcover of Tracy's Song of the Dragon. In addition to all 7 signed bookmarks.

Also, if you missed it, Witch Song is now available for preorder! I'm blown away by how many of you have preordered it and/or shared the news. Thank you so much!



  1. Got to love Tracy Hickman - such a fantastic guy and a great writer. Excellent interview, Amber.

  1. Dave: He's a darn good teacher too.
    Donna: Thanks!

  1. I love the interview, Amber. I have never read any of his books, but I just might have to try them out.

  1. This sounds really awesome. I'm about to read Carrie Vaughn's "Voices of Dragons" and Bryan Davis' "Dragons of Starlight: WARRIOR" in the next month or so, and will have to add this dragon novel to my list. Thanks for spotlighting it and hosting a great interview!

  1. Thanks Becky and Bonnie.

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