Sunday, November 18, 2007

There's A Dragon in My Soup - Part 2

Marge Simon and Mary Turzilla have a cool book coming out in January from vanZeno Press.

Mary Turzillo's Website
Marge Simon's Website
vanZeno Press - Purchase link coming soon.

Also see Part 1 of the Interview here.

Q: What’s the deal with dragons and virgins? Why don’t dragons stick to their own species?

Mary: That's the heart of the book! Marge and I kept asking ourselves and each other this question. We came up with several answers, and decided to present them all.

For example, maybe the dragon needs a partner who is not fertile by virtue of being of a different species, to spend all that lust. Or maybe since dragons are supernatural creatures, they need a natural creature to mate with.

Or maybe they find humans sexy. We find dragons sexy. Why not vice-versa?

Or maybe it has nothing to do with sex. In traditional lore, virgins possess magic that they lose when they have sex. So maybe the dragon needs a virgin to work the magic to protect his hoard.

Or maybe they're just playing with us. Like cats and mice.

Marge: Mary is quite right. We came up with so many theories about this, that we showcased a number of them. Virgins are desirable to some dragon breeds, but not all. For example, the snake in the Garden of Eden was originally a dragon before it tempted virgin Eve to sample the forbidden fruit and was punished by losing its appendages. To its descendants, a virgin represented Eve. The Lambdon Wyrm mentioned in my story was one such.. Though I didn’t mention this, the Wyrm was keen on tempting fair virgins with its charms. His harem was impressive. As long as a maiden didn’t have sex with a human, the Wyrm considered her virginal. Of course, once she lost her looks, she was booted out.

Q: You're calling this Dragon Soup, like those Chicken Soup books. Do you think dragons have something to say to uplift the human soul?

Mary: Do I? I think that varies from dragon to dragon. Certainly the dragon in "Your Dragon Bride" is not trying to uplift her husband's soul. He'll be lucky to be alive in a few years. But Marge's "The Walnut Tree" (which takes my breath away every time I read it) is about a dragon who protects an abused wife.

Marge: Do dragons have something to say about anything? I believe they do, but they’re not particularly interested in humans’ souls. What are they supposed to say? "Have a nice day"? "That’s a pretty blouse." "You’ve lost weight, haven’t you?" No way. But dragons are uplifting creatures by nature of being dragons: mysterious, powerful, magical, even whimsical. Who wouldn’t welcome a dragon living in their back yard? Your neighbors would be jealous, and that uplifts the human soul no end.

Q: Despite the popular concept that dragons will roast you with fire then eat you for dinner, kids love them. What is it about dragons that attracts children?

Mary: I've often wondered. My son was born in the year of the dragon, and he and I think the attributes ascribed to dragons in the Chinese zodiac are, if not actually his from birth, at least worth aspiring to. He had dozens of plush toy dragons, but only one plush unicorn (which incidentally my kitten Sam decided to eviscerate).

I played around with Google and discovered that for such pairs as "dragon friend" and "unicorn friend," there are about nine times as many references to dragons as to unicorns. I sought Google hits of such animal friends as bears, ducks, and tigers, and discovered, interestingly, that the bigger and more predatory the animal is, the more hits for toys and plush animals there seem to be.

Maybe children see the dragon as a big, friendly protector. If I were small and helpless, I'd certainly want the dragon on my side. Come to think of it, I am small and helpless. Maybe that's why I like dragons.

Marge: Dragons are awesome. Case in point: it is uncool to have a puppy tattoo. It is way cool to have a dragon tattoo.

Q: How did you decide to collaborate on this book? Which one of you woke up one morning and said "Hey, dragons! Poetry! Short stories! Illustrations! M__ and I are the perfect team for this!"

Mary: Well, first I have to say I'm a longtime admirer of Marge's flash fiction, poetry, and art. She's a multitalented genius, and I always love her work and am so flattered she agreed to collaborate with me.

This whole Dragon Soup idea started when I admired a poem of Marge's, "Dragon Lust." It's about a maiden who falls for a dragon who doesn't quite fancy her, because -- well, read the poem. I know a lot of people who love dragons, and Marge's take on dragons, as sexual, unpredictable, and uncontrollable, struck a chord for me. We started talking about a collaboration and I dragged her into this. And I'm not apologizing, Marge!

One thing that I found especially exciting was that one of us would write a poem, for example about a half-dragon, half-human child, and if it was funny, the other would write a serious poem about the same subject. And vice versa. This happened several times, sort of like a dialog, and it produced some startling pieces, and startling synergy.

Writing the book for me was just immense fun.

Marge: I thought it was my husband, Bruce Boston’s, fault. When I laughingly told him that I’d just sold my second dragon poem, he said, "Good. If you can write 28 more, you’ll have enough for a chapbook." I believe he was being sarcastic, as he doesn’t find dragons a topic of interest. So when Mary complimented me on my poem in Goblin Fruit, (http://www.goblinfruit.net)/) –well, we got to chatting and one thing let to another. I’d just finished a collaborative collection on a very serious topic with Charlee Jacob (VECTORS: A Week in the Death of a Planet) and falling into the joys of writing poetry and doing illustrations of dragons was such a pleasant respite. Mary and I are so similar in our perceptions and raunchy sense of humor, it’s uncanny.

Q: Could both of you give a brief rundown on the some of your favorites in the book? Take all the space you want and use examples as needed. You have one hour. Begin now.

Mary: Oh wow. I think my favorite thing in the whole book is Marge's illustration for my "Your Dragon Bride." The dragon bride herself is serving cocktails and is quite the dish, if you happen to fancy fire-breathing scaly monsters. And the expression of befuddlement on the groom's face is just to die for. I crack up every time I think of it.

I also love her "The Walnut Tree," which I mentioned above. "To Dream of Dragons" is also a gem. And if you want a belly laugh, try Marge's "The Lady Dragon's Son," both the poem and the image that goes with it.

Of my own stuff, I think I'm proudest of "Daddy Says It's not a Dragon," which won a first in the "Small Stuff" Ohio Poetry Contest. I also have a story called "Chrysoberyl," which will eventually be the first chapter of a novel. And the way Marge draws my characters is perfect. The love interest is really a hunk.

Marge has a special genius for facial expressions, in case you didn't notice.

Marge: Of Mary’s poems, I loved "What Do Women Want" and "Chatroom Immortals". The former, because it addresses an age old question about male-female relationships. "Worldly goods can’t buy you love." Be you man or dragon, you ain’t going nowhere with that notion. The latter poem was plain fun to read and research for getting those two unlikely lovers together in an image. I agree with Mary about Chrysoberyl being my favorite of her stories (and we both thought the guy in my illustration is a doll–don’t know where he came from, either.)

My daughter loved the art I did for "A Gathering of Dragons" so much, she started thinking about using it for a dragon tattoo. Then she changed her mind and described what later became the illustration and inspiration for "Rumple Stilt’s Kin". I call it "Melle’s Dragon".

Of all the poems that I’ve written for this, "The Dragon and the Troll" remains my favorite. It speaks to the joy of love and the tragedy of loss. I’ve still not been able to place it, though I have sold several others pretty quickly.

Q: Pencils down, class. Thanks to Marge and Mary for taking up the gauntlet, but not smacking the dragons with a sword. Hey, dragons have rights, too!Final question. What's your recipe for dragon soup?

Mary: Dragon Soup
Ingredients:
1 fresh maiden (check for virginity)
1 tranquilizer, maiden's choice
1 shark cage
1 crane with a long arm
1 billion liters of beef broth
47 truckloads of mixed vegetables
salt, pepper, and herbs to taste (mandrake and mustard are recommended)
1 seductive trumpet
1 very loud cherry bomb
1 large volcanic caldera

Directions:
Pour beef broth into caldera. Allow to come to a slow simmer.
Add mixed vegetables, salt, pepper, and herbs. Cook for several hours until vegetables are soft.
Give maiden tranquilizer. (This step may be omitted if maiden is very very brave.) Insert maiden into shark cage. Wait until maiden is calm.

Suspend maiden in shark cage over caldera on arm of crane.

Play trumpet seductively. If dragon does not appear at once, have maiden croon sweetly about golden rings, gemstones, etc.

As dragon comes galumphing over the horizon, prepare cherry bomb. As he gets to the edge of the caldera, detonate it. (Note, be sure that the cherry bomb goes off behind the dragon, so as to guide him into the volcano. You don't want him coming toward you.)
Swing crane out and release maiden from shark cage.

Run.

Marge: Try Mary’s recipe. If you don’t like loud noises, just put a dish of buttered gorps on your doorstep at 11:30 p.m EST. And heat up the largest kettle you can find.