I’ve been good friends with E.R. Karr for years, and I was over the moon when I found out that she’d had a story accepted into Storm Moon Press’s Dracones anthology!
And Karr’s story “Two in the Bush” is an absolute delight: a sweet urban-fantasy mystery, with engaging protagonists, fun banter, and a twisty, interesting plot that hints at some fascinating worldbuilding. Overall I found the Dracones anthology well worth the purchase; all the stories were quite strong, with a broad mix of fantasy, urban fantasy, and historical. My favorite in the anthology other than Karr’s (… hey, I never claimed I wasn’t biased!) is “Weird Magics”, a clever and plot-driven historical fantasy with shades of noir and an intriguing cast of characters that kept me guessing — but they’re all well worth the read!
I invited E.R. Karr to do a mini-interview and talk a little more about her story and its protagonists, dragon Ferdie and telepathic private investigator David.
Give us a quick introduction to the story!
David is a telepathic private eye in Boston; his partner (in every sense) is Ferdie, a dragon who lives mostly in human form due to limits on his magic (for reasons explained elsewhere.) An affectionate, passionate, ridiculously attractive human form, which David more often than not can’t say no to. Though maybe he should have, when Ferdie asked to go camping. David’s pretty sure there are better ways to spend a weekend than lost and injured in the woods, in the middle of the night – especially when he and Ferdie realize something out in the darkness is after them…
Does the campground where the story is set actually exist?
The specific state park isn’t real, since I was taking artistic license with scenery (not to mention the local wildlife!); but the forested campground and mountain stream where they swim is based on various places in the White Mountains in New Hampshire, where my family went camping most summers of my childhood. It’s a beautiful area (though I admit I rarely did more than dip my toes in the freezing streams…!)
Have you always been interested in dragons? What is your favorite fictional dragon?
I’ve been interested in dragons at least as long as I’ve been interested in sci-fi & fantasy – the Dragonriders of Pern was my “gateway” into the genre, and dragons are my favorite supernatural/mythological beings. I love the Pernese dragons for being entirely positive, human-loving creatures rather than monsters; but I’m fascinated by the idea of dragons as ancient, powerful beings, almost embodiments of nature itself – neither humanity’s enemy nor ally by intent, but a power of another order, beyond any efforts to master or control it. The wise dragons of Asian legends aren’t malicious like classic European dragons, but still can be dangerous to the people whose paths cross theirs, because they’re so far above ordinary human concerns. My favorite portrayals of dragons are those which explore that aspect–not simple fire-breathing, princess-eating monsters for heroes to slay; but creatures on a scale that humans must respect, and be very, very careful around.
What was the initial inspiration for David and Ferdie’s characters?
Ferdie’s initial inspiration was simply, What if Bertie Wooster – Wodehouse’s classic fop of the Jeeves and Wooster stories – was a dragon? He changed somewhat in the writing and due to his fundamental nature – he’s very young (an infant for a dragon, if approaching senior citizen on human terms) and has only lived a couple years as a human, but he’s got immense power and intelligence even if his actions at times may imply otherwise. But his basic foolish but relentlessly good-natured attitude is still quite Wooster-esque.
A lot of David’s character came about as a foil to Ferdie’s, so he’s stuck being the pessimist to Ferdie’s optimism, the champion of common sense over idealism. His psychic ability was a way to bring him into the secret world of magic without making him a magic-user or supernatural creature himself (his telepathy, David insists, is neurological, not magical; I have my doubts about how you can prove that in a world where magic is real, but I’m not telling him that…)
What’s David’s idea of the perfect date?
“Perfect” is not something David ever expects to accomplish, so he doesn’t even try. If Ferdie still had his wealth, David would actually really enjoy being treated to dinner at a fabulous gourmet restaurant followed by front-row tickets to a symphony or Broadway show; but as it stands he’d spend most of it fretting about how much rent money they were burning through. So he’d have a much better time getting take-out from his favorite Thai place or else from whatever new hidden wonder of Boston eateries Ferdie has stumbled on lately; and eating up on the roof under the stars, weather permitting; or else a candlelit dinner inside. (Ferdie looks even better than usual in firelight). Followed in all cases by some sweet, hot (if not overly-strenuous!) lovemaking, and then falling asleep to Ferdie reading aloud. (Usually poetry or plays, as Ferdie maintains they don’t sound right when silent in his head. Sometimes David grumbles about having the lamp on, but if Ferdie relocates to the living room David makes sure the bedroom door stays open, so he can hear.)
… and Ferdie’s?
If it’s something that Ferdie’s never done before, he’ll love it, almost without exception (David teaching him to do laundry for the first time was awesome! Towels straight out of the dryer are so warm and fluffy! What do you mean that doesn’t count as a date?) But a perfect date is one that makes David happy. They’ve been on quite a few. If not this camping trip…but maybe the next one!