Posted by authorcamilson
Wind – Drachengott Book 1
by KJ Taylor
Wendland is a land of dragons, and of magic. The mysterious Drachengott grants magic to his worshippers – but is he truly a god? Rutger von Gothendorf is only a simple furrier, but he has become his village’s local eccentric, thanks to his obsession with the murder of his brother by the Drachengott’s servants. He holds onto the vague hope that he will one day have the chance to fight back against them – until one day a mysterious and beautiful woman named Swanhild comes into his life. Rutger is instantly smitten – but Swanhild knows more than she says, and a web of lies and deceit threatens to sour the love beginning to grow between them.
And all the while, the Drachengott waits …
The wind whistled through the darkness, shaking the branches all about and putting a chill into the air. It carried a scent with it, straight to Rutger’s nose. He took it in and immediately tensed.
‘Did you smell that, Horst?’ he hissed, snatching his older brother by the arm.
Horst shook him off. ‘Not now, Rut — we’re in enough trouble without worrying about funny smells.’
‘But it smells like rotting meat!’ Rutger insisted. He paused, ignoring Horst’s impatient look, and breathed in deeply. The smell hit him again — worse, this time. He retched slightly. ‘Can’t you smell it?’
Horst, big and muscular, turned his head in the gloom and sniffed. A moment later, he grimaced. ‘You’re right: something’s dead out there. Come on, let’s move on before we find out what.’
He strode off, Rutger hurrying after him. ‘You don’t think it’s spiders, do you?’
‘Could be,’ Horst said shortly. ‘Keep your eyes open.’
Rutger swallowed and put a hand on the hilt of the long dagger looped through his belt. He had never seen a giant spider before, and he wanted to keep it that way. Silently, he wished he had never asked to come out here into the forest with Horst. But it had all seemed so harmless — just a quick stroll through the forest to check Horst’s mink traps. But then they hadn’t been able to find the last trap, and now they were lost.
I really am the unlucky seventh son, he thought glumly.
If Horst was as worried as his brother, he didn’t show it. He walked slightly ahead, dead mink swinging from his belt. A big old woodaxe hung on his back, brought along for protection. Night was falling now, and the sooner they got out of here the better.
The forest all around was dense and looked threatening, its spiky pine needles sighing in the relentless wind. Night always seemed to come early here. But at least the putrid smell had gone away.
‘How close do you think we are now?’ Rutger asked in a low voice.
Horst shook his head. ‘Not sure — I think there’s a clearing up ahead, though.’
Rutger came to his brother’s side, and the two of them climbed a small rise into the clearing. The instant Rutger left the shelter of the trees, it hit him again: the hideous stench of rotting meat slamming into his nose, so powerfully that his eyes watered. Beside him, Horst had stopped. Rutger heard him swear softly. He looked up, intending to tell his brother that they should go — and then he saw it.
Ahead, in the clearing, a faint light began to glow. It shone on the dark, lumpy shapes which hung from the trees at the far side. Some could have been animal corpses, but the rest . . .
Horst wrenched the axe down off his back. ‘Get behind me, Rut,’ he said sharply. ‘Get out of here. Now.’
‘What—?’ Rutger started to say — but too late.
As the light brightened, two of the hanging shapes dropped to the ground and stepped forward. They wore rough leather tunics with hoods which covered their heads, but on each of their chests was a pair of red gemstones, set into an amulet. They glowed faintly in the light, making a halo over each of the two men, like a pair of glowering eyes.
‘Jüngen!’ Rutger heard himself say.
One of the pair pointed accusingly at them. ‘How dare you enter this sacred grove?’
Horst started to back away, axe raised.
The two Jüngen joined hands, and the light around them intensified as their linked hands rose. An instant later, a great flash blinded Rutger. He cried out as he fell back, but his voice was drowned out by a screeching roar from above.
A pitch-black dragon was hovering over the Jüngen’s heads, its eyes glowing red. Light crackled over its wings, and it roared again.
The Jüngen let go of each other, and the second of the two spoke to the dragon. His words were a short, cold command.
K.J.Taylor was born in Australia in 1986 and plans to stay alive for as long as possible. She went to Radford College and achieved a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications at the University of Canberra, where she is currently studying for a Master’s Degree in Information Studies.
She published her first work, The Land of Bad Fantasy through Scholastic when she was just 18, and went on to publish The Dark Griffin in Australia and New Zealand five years later. The Griffin’s Flight and The Griffin’s War followed in the same year, and were released in America and Canada in 2011. At the moment, she is working on the third set of books in the series, while publishing the second.
K.J.Taylor’s real first name is Katie, but not many people know what the J stands for. She collects movie soundtracks and keeps pet rats, and isn’t quite as angst-ridden as her books might suggest.
KJ will be awarding an eCopy of Wind to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour, and choice of 5 digital books from the Impulse line to a randomly drawn host.
KJ, Thanks for being my guest today. Tell us about you.
I’m currently 29 years old, and signed my first publishing contract when I was 18 (I didn’t tell the publisher I was just a kid – they had no idea until well after the contract was signed, and boy were they surprised). I live in a yurt with my pet rats and two canaries, and when I’m not writing I have a job as an archivist. I also collect movie soundtracks, and love video games. And I designed every one of my tattoos myself!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Sometimes just the fact that I need to get to work on time! But on writing days I get up because I know it’s time to head off and work on another book! I can keep writing all day without taking a break, and I love it.
If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
I’d like to hang out with a movie director while they were on set, and watch them at work. Movie making has always fascinated me, and seeing it in action would be awesome! I’m not sure which director I’d pick – one of the nicer, more patient ones, probably! Or Tarantino, because he’s just awesome.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
I wanted to write a story where the main character is the mysterious seer – and I also wanted to do something with an old idea I’d had about a dragon the size of a mountaintop. So I put the two of them together. I decided to make the setting Germanic partly because I was taking German classes at the time, and thought it would be a change from the more British kinds of settings I usually go with. The German words used in the series are all real, and I got my tutor to check my grammar for me!
Tell us your writing process
It’s pretty straightforward. I don’t write out a plan beforehand, unlike some; that approach has never worked for me. But I do have the basic shape of the story in my head when I start out. When I’m ready with a new idea I sit down and write it. Sometimes I have to stop partway through because I hit a point where I realise I’m not ready to continue, and when that happens I go off and work on something else until I’m ready to return. With the Drachengott series, I left the fourth and final book unfinished – thinking “oh, I’ll finish it if the series gets picked up”. It was, and I had to hurry back and write the last half of the book ASAP!
Do you have any tips for other authors who want to get the word out about their work?
These days it’s pretty much mandatory to use social media. I joined Facebook purely because I realised it was the best way to connect with readers – which turned out to be correct – and I got a Twitter account for the same reason. Personal websites are more useful for providing people with links to buy your books, extra material about your series, and things like that. If you can get yourself a spot as a guest at a convention like Supanova, that’s a great way to get your name out there. And you should ask your publisher to have some promotional posters and leaflets made up which you can hand out or leave at libraries, etc.
Finally, it’s a good idea to create an author profile for yourself on Amazon – it makes you and your books a lot easier to find.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I was a big reader as a kid (other kids called me “bookworm” all the time), and first started writing short stories and poems when I was in primary school. When I was about thirteen I began trying to write full-length novels, and shortly after that I decided I wanted to get published more than anything else. So I threw myself into it headfirst, and eventually succeeded. It’s been more than ten years since I signed that first contract, but I can still remember how happy and excited I was!
Tell us about your main character:
The protagonist of the first book, Wind, was originally going to be Syn the dragon. But in the end, Rutger von Gothendorf was a better fit. I quickly took a liking to him while I was writing. He’s a young man who works as the village furrier – he traps mink and other animals, tans the hides and makes them into clothes and other things. He’s lived under the threat of dragon attack all his life, and when he was a boy his brother was killed by one, right in front of him. He never got over that and eventually got the local blacksmith to make a sword for him, with a handle made from the dragon’s broken horn.
What made Rutger particularly likeable for me was the fact that other people laugh at him. He has some vague notion of one day using his sword to fight dragons and the Jüngen who summon them, and he secretly practises with it every day. But everyone else knows about it, and he’s viewed as the local eccentric – a poor dope who thinks he’s a great warrior in the making.
Later on it also interested me to see how his hatred of dragons and Jüngen is actually a tad on the irrational side – he unknowningly tells a dragon that “the only good dragon is a dead dragon”, and is puzzled when she takes offence. In his mind, wiping out an entire species is absolutely fine – even though he knows full-well that the dragons are being controlled by their summoners, and the Drachengott himself. (Note: “Drachengott” is German for “Dragon God”)
What are you working on next?
I’ve already written a fifth Drachengott book, and made a start on a sixth. At this particular moment, however, I’m preparing to get back to work on a new book. Its working title is Roost, and it’s about a couple in love who are forced to become enemies. It promises to be one of the most tragic – and brutal – things I’ve ever written.
Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I once wrote an entire 150 page novel in four days. Afterwards I was so burned out that I barely recognised my own father. But still – four days!
I also design and sew stuffed toys as a hobby (and make them on commission for other people from time to time). And I have a pretty decent singing voice.
Who are your favorite authors?
Rather unusually for a fantasy author, I don’t actually read a lot of fantasy. My favourite authors include Clive Barker, China Mieville, Brian Masters and William Horwood.
What do you like to do with your free time?
I like going to the movies, and I enjoy long walks and making little craft items. I also like drawing – I draw my characters just for fun, and I draw maps for each new series, partly because it’s very useful to have one handy as a guide while writing, but also because fans want to see it in the book later on!
Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
I currently have a new trilogy called The Rebel Lion, which my agents are looking at. I also plan to write more Drachengott books, and am currently in the process of publishing a series called the Cymrian Saga (the first six books are currently published – the first of them is called The Dark Griffin – and a companion book called Tales of Cymria has just been released). And I have a couple of standalone books currently looking for a place, and a YA series being looked at by publishers. So as you can see I’m pretty busy!
Where can people find you on the web?
My author page on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/kjtaylorauthor
The official Drachengott page – https://www.facebook.com/drachengottseries
My personal website – www.kjtaylor.com
My YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCv1GtMMiCUlHbu289PwcjuQ
My Twitter handle is @WorldStitcher
Any final thoughts?
Professional writing is a tough business – very tough, sometimes. But it’s worth it. It really is. If you write because you love it, then that should be enough. Never let it be about the fame or the money. Do it for love. That’s why I do it, and it makes me happy. It makes my life worth living.
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