A New Dragon Tale – Some Rambles



Quietly, I’ve been working on a short story to usher in a full novel featuring dragons.

I’ve been partial to dragons for a long time, admittedly. It all started when I was an exchange student in California, in the senior year of Senior High. (Rowland High School in Rowland Heights, for those who are interested. And no, my fellow students didn’t know me as Hannah Steenbock.) The school library drew me magically, since my afternoons and evenings in a family with children clearly younger than me were not very eventful. And there, I found the Pern novels. I was an instant fan. In fact, I spent quite a bunch of my time translating “Dragonflight” into German. Nothing ever came out of that, however.

Anyway, I started a dragon novel about a year ago when an Idea hit me. Girl meets dragon, then some other characters appeared and started to weave into three story lines. And stalled.

Strategy is the new magic word in self-publishing, so I decided to create a teaser short story for that novel and explore the setting in that one, before bashing out more plot with uncooperative characters.

Enter Dorelle and Mashira, center stage. They dragged me right into a conflict about how to use dragons – as war machines or friends? Dorelle has to take sides, becomes an outcast and redeems herself through an important discovery and rescue. I started to really like brave Dorelle and quirky Mashira. Telling their story was great fun, even though it quickly grew beyond the confines of a short story. It’s now hovering at the border between novelette and novella.

Here’s the beginning of the tale:


“You have two more weeks of latrine duty, Dorelle. And you will keep pulling it until you teach your dragon to shut up and obey.”


“No but!”

Dorelle stared at Ferren. “Mashira prevented Bedelin from getting hurt. What’s so bad about that?”

Her Wing Commander stared back, unimpressed. “Mashira only prevented Bedelin from learning a valuable lesson. And here is your lesson for today, and you’d better learn it now: Dragons do not talk out of line. Never, ever. They do not think on their own. They obey their riders, or they are removed from service.”

Dorelle was confused. “Removed from service? But there are no dragons outside of the Skyforce.”

“That’s right.” Ferren looked grim. “They are removed permanently.”


“Do I have to spell out every little thing for you, stupid fisher girl? Those dragons are destroyed, because they are a liability to everyone, including their riders.”

Dorelle’s heart froze. Mashira was threatened with death because she warned Bedelin of a mistake? She had no words left, no will to fight. She couldn’t risk Mashira’s life. She forced herself to a mute nod.

“Good,” Ferren growled. “Now take yourself away and keep that self-righteous dragon out of my sight.”

“Yes, sir.”


So now I’m plotting the sequel which snuck up on me behind my back. More giant beasts will play role in that – kraken. They appeared suddenly out of the murky depths, and their riddle will only be solved at the end of the entire series.

Series? Yes. I decided to break apart the novel that might have been and tell each of those stories separately. That eliminates a lot of the continuity headache that I was getting. I no longer need to space chapters on a timeline that stopped working from the beginning. Now I can work towards a meeting of all three of them, without having to juggle chapters.

Long live dragons.

*Image source: F. Moebius

PS: I’m looking for some beta-readers for Dorelle’s story. Let me know in a comment if you’re interested.

About Hannah Steenbock

Hannah Steenbock is an author, dreamer, and coach. She has published several short stories in English and German, as well as one novel in German. In 2013 she started self-publishing her work. In 2014, she has won two awards for her short story "Sequoia".
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