Former bookseller Julie Kagawa always had a “thing,” as she puts it, for dragons. Now, with her new series, Talon, which launches on October 28, the bestselling author of The Iron Fey series got the chance to explore one of her childhood obsessions. She talked to us about turning old ideas into new stories, her strengths at bookselling (and weaknesses at book shelving), and why she’s so into flying, fire-breathing monsters.
Talon is set in a modern-day world in which a secret society of dragons, with the ability to disguise themselves as humans, is at war with an order of dragon-slayers. The story focuses on the unlikely friendship that develops between a dragon (disguised as a human) and a fierce dragon-slayer. Where did this idea come from?
I’ve always loved dragons and actually wrote part of the story back in high school. I had an idea [for a story] about a dragon and a dragon-slayer, but it was set in medieval times and was more of a high fantasy. When I was finishing up the Blood of Eden series, my agent started asking me about other ideas I had, and I thought back to this story. I wound up twisting [the story] and bringing it into the modern day. But my two main characters—Ember and Garrett—are the same as the rendition I did in high school. So I’m really excited that their story is finally being published.
Did you actually have a copy of the version you wrote in high school?
I wrote on Five Star notebooks in high school, and those have become lost over time. The story is on a Five Star notebook somewhere… but I have no idea where.
So what’s with the dragon obsession?
They’ve always been my favorite mythological creature. I was a huge bookworm as a kid, and you could usually find me reading something with a dragon on its cover. I loved Tolkien and The Chronicles of Pern.
Did any other dragon-related books and media serve as inspiration to you, aside from the two you’ve mentioned?
Game of Thrones has been a big inspiration. Even Eragon—I really enjoyed that series. As a kid I read the Dragonlance Chronicles, and those were a huge inspiration to me as well.
Will fans of your other books find Talon familiar, or more of a departure?
I like to put my characters through a lot, so, in Talon, my fans will find familiar themes of bravery and sacrifice, and what it means to be human… even if you’re not human. There is a slight departure, though, in the fact that at least the first half of Talon is set in our world, and not in a magical world.
Talon has already been optioned by Universal. That must be exciting.
Talon was optioned by Universal Pictures, but an option just means that a studio has bought the rights [to adapt your book into a film]. A lot of things have to happen before it gets on the screen, so we’ll see what comes of it. If it gets made, awesome, but it’s more of a wait-and-see [situation].
You’re also a former bookseller, yes?
I worked at a Books-a-Million in Louisville for several years.
Were you a good bookseller?
I liked being at the service desk. My least favorite thing was being on the register. Overall, I’d say I was an awesome bookseller, but probably not the best book shelver. I loved recommending books, and helping people find books. And I got to be a part of two [midnight release] Harry Potter parties. It was great—everyone was in costume and I brought in my pet rat, Peter Pettigrew.
These days, is it comforting or strange when you walk into bookstores to promote your own work?
It’s surreal, being on the other side. I see booksellers at the register, and helping people, and it's kind of nostalgic. It’s strange, and cool and awesome to be on the other side [as an author], because when I was a bookseller it was always a big deal when an author came into the store. I love it, and wouldn’t change it for anything.