Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dianne Gardner's Behind THE DRAGON'S SHIELD

Hey, guys, let's welcome my friend, artist and writer Dianne Gardner! Dianne writes MG/YA fantasy novels with a positive message about nature to impart upon her young audience. I've read Deception's Peak, the first book in her Ian's Realm saga, and she's equally good at painting with words as she is with her artwork. Just take a look at her cover. It's a beaut! The second book in the series, The Dragon's Shield, is out!
Do you consider yourself an artist or writer first? Which field did you start?
That’s a hard question to answer, Stuart, because I’ve always done both ever since I was a youngster. I thought more about pursuing an art career, as my writing was more something I did to just express myself. I wrote a lot of poetry.
Do you write a story around a painting or illustration? Or do you write, and then illustrate?
Normally, now, I write first and then knowing I’m going to want some illustrations for my books, I’ll paint them. But before I started writing the Ian’s Realm series I started painting the dragon. I knew I was going to write a book and had already done a little outline for it. Enough of the story was formed that I felt justified painting Stenhjaert. (I’ve mostly only painting from life i.e. models, plein air painting, still lifes though not many of those.) So doing fantasy was a really new thing for me.
Once he was starting to take form I saw the story really come alive. From then on I wore a foot path from my house to my studio painting and writing all in the same day.
In every war or major conflict, there’re two opposing sides with differing viewpoints. Do you favor the Kaemperns or the Meneks? Consider one right? One wrong?
In their history, the Kaemperns come from the Menek village. They’re the outcasts because they refuse to bow down to the dragon. They do little harm really, nothing to warrant their banishment. But the Meneks feel a need to be of one mind in order to appease the dragon.
I favor the Kaemperns. They look to wisdom for their guide, and want nothing more than to rescue the Meneks from the dragon’s tyranny. Whereas the Meneks are somewhat na├»ve in their faith, and I do feel sorry for them, they are easily persuaded into paths that will destroy them. You’ll see this more in the third book Rubies and Robbers.
The most curious thing in the first book was the relationship between Ian and his father, Alex. I found it interesting that Ian was the stolid, fearful of adventure, wanting to keep the status quo of the two. He seemed sorta more mature than his father. Alex was kind of a…well, lousy father. Seemed like he endangered Ian for light-hearted kicks.  You got some ‘splaining to do.
I don’t completely agree with you on that one Stuart. Ian may have seemed sensible but he was also curled up in his shell afraid of life. A hermit. Think about it. He had one friend. One. Abbi. And then he was overly co dependent on his dad. His father, though more adventurous than many of us, knew his son had problems. Of course, Alex had some of his own especially since he lost his beloved wife, and found being a single dad a challenge. Though Alex loved his son he had no idea how to raise him single handedly.  Ian worshipped his dad, and Alex didn’t know how to stop him, other than detach himself from him.
Just because we’re parents, doesn’t mean we’re going to be good parents. And I would think that Ian’s mother did most of the parenting when he was young, so that when she died, Alex had no clue. They became friends; he shared with Ian the wealth of his knowledge, and wanted to share his love for life and adventure as well. Things just didn’t turn out as peachy for them as they should have.
Okay, pretentious time. Is this an allegory for anything going on in the world?
Hmmm. I don’t know, Stuart. Do you see any similarities in our world to what happens in the Realm? I’d like the reader to decide. And if you do please let me sit in on the conversation!
Tell us about your new book. What’s up in Ian’s Realm this time?
The Dragon Shield, book 2 of the series ends with Ian and Alex’s trip back from the Kaempern camp and then jumps ahead three years.
Eighteen now, Ian returns to the Realm to fight against the tyranny that has befallen his friends. But the Realm is a different place, the forest is dying, the Kaermperns have lost the shield that protected them from the dragon, and Ian has a hard time proving his allegiance when trouble follows him through the portal. His struggle to do right buries him in confusion, and he must fight his own will to prove his integrity.
I liked Abbi. Can we expect to see more of her in your new book? Maybe even…romance?
Abbi is in all three of the books. She’s a driving force for much of what Ian does and becomes a catalyst for the way things turn out in the end. Don’t lose sight of her. Though her part is small, it’s big!
Dragon’s are scary! Yet I want to see more of “The Master.” Does he become an actual character? Or is he just the ultimate Big Bad who we’re supposed to fear?
You will see much more of Stenhjaert in The Dragon Shield and again in Rubies and Robbers. And if you want to know where he came from before Ian ever stepped into the Realm, may I suggest reading A Tale of the Four Wizards, Meneka! You will also learn much more about the myths behind the Kaempern and Menek cultures by reading all four of the wizards’ stories.
Thanks for coming on over to Twisted Tales, Dianne! Okay! Dianne's got a mess of links! Get clicking:


Twitter @DianneGardner

Author Central on Amazon

The Dragon Shield on Amazon


  1. Thank you so much for having me, Stuart! These were great questions. I enjoyed answering them.

    1. My pleasure, Dianne! Thanks for visiting and I look forward to reading your follow-up!

  2. Wow, great blog! Great questions. Brought out some new angles for me. Love the comment about Abbi being a driving force. The romantic tension there is also just about right for me. As a mom of teenaged boys, I don't want too much going on too young!

    1. Hi April. Thanks for stopping by. My daughter just now having left her teen years behind, I can certainly empathize on your not wanting too much going on too young! Too late for me! Ouch!

  3. I believe I 'got it' from the beginning in reading Deception Peak, i.e., the relationship between Ian and his father. Though Dad had a responsibility to his teenaged son, the years of grieving from the death of his wife led him to lose himself in the question of what lay beyond the portal he opened. He needed the release and the posibility of a new beginning. We all are curious souls, especially when the mystery is of our own creation. It is also nice to see in print that we are not all the "Cleavers". In today's view, Alex was a decent father who loved his son but still possessed the youthful wonder that he thankfully never outgrew.

    1. Hey there, Crazy Lady (I've ALWAYS wanted to write that salutation!! Thanks for giving me the opportunity! LOL!). Good points regarding Alex and his father, just as Dianne's book opened up a very interesting, believable relationship.

  4. Hey, April and Shelly! Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments. I love it when people read these things! Thanks Stuart! Sorry I didn't respond sooner.