The Dragon Dreamer is a science fantasy/adventure with flying dragons and an undersea world with shape-shifters. When an undersea volcano erupts it triggers a towering tsunami and a deadly chain of events. I worked as a marine biologist for years, so the sea flowed into my book. I dove on coral reefs, skimming above a riot of camouflage and color. I held still and watched, suspended in space. Sometimes I spent an entire month at sea, living in the center of a blue circle. My boss sent me out into a storm to conduct research. I knew this was a bad idea, but I loved my job too much to risk it by refusing to go. Soon I was battling huge waves and did not think I would return, but the sheer power of the sea was amazingly beautiful. I survived and, later, cheerfully tossed Arak into that storm. I grew dragon wings and remembered the details:
“Arak reefed the sails to shorten them as the wind grew stronger. He furled his own wings, too. It felt unnatural to keep his wings so tightly folded against his back, but he did not want to be blown overboard . . . Arak fought to head diagonally into the huge waves, his muscles straining until they burned. The boat would flip and sink if it was caught broad-side. He thudded across gray hills in a jarring, uneven rhythm that knocked him off his feet again and again. He struggled upright each time, bruised, never releasing the sail ropes. The cold, relentless rain chilled him to the bone . . . Arak’s arms were on fire, his body was frozen, and his mind was a fog of exhaustion.”
I looked into the eyes of a deep-sea octopus and received a measuring gaze with silent questions. Octopuses are very intelligent beings with distinct personalities and more brain neurons than a human. Many octopus types can shape-shift into fish, shrimp, other creatures, or a seaweed-encrusted rock. They can change color cell-by-cell, change shape, and change skin texture. Octopuses in captivity have formed strong friendships with people. One octopus became concerned after feeling the illness in her human friend, using the sensors in her arms. I studied these fascinating, alien Earth beings. And so Scree was born.
Scree uses her natural octopus abilities in a fantasy way, making pictures on her skin to communicate and helping an injured dragon at sea. “Her eight flexible arms were tactile marvels lined with suckers, and each sucker had millions of sensory cells. As Scree dressed the wound she felt the shape and texture of the break, sensed micro-changes in temperature and tasted the salty-metallic injury. She gathered detailed information to better treat her unusual patient.”
Arak and Scree become friends and learn to communicate without words. Celebrating success, “Scree flashed a rapid rainbow of brilliant colors, one after another: ruby-red, topaz, emerald, turquoise, and amethyst. Arak just grinned. He couldn’t have said it better himself.”
Our experiences can provide vivid details for the story. When much of a book is detailed fact, it’s hard to discern the detailed fiction. Where does fact end and fiction begin? The entire story becomes believable. I mixed my own experiences with real science and real fiction to create the world of The Dragon Dreamer.