Guess what, everyone: It’s release week for Black City Dragon by Richard A. Knaak! And to celebrate the book release, I have for you all an interview with the author!
If you’re not already a fan of this series, I definitely recommend that you check it out. A 1600-year-old Catholic saint, sharing his body with the dragon he slayed, guarding the gate to Feirie, fighting off the creatures that slip through, taking down bad guys, trying to save the woman he loves before she’s killed and reincarnated again, all taking place in Prohibition Era Chicago—what more could you want?
This series has such a unique combination of elements that I’ve never seen done before, so I was excited to get the chance to ask Richard some questions and find out some of the inspiration behind these stories. I certainly found his answers interesting, and I hope you all will too!
Also be sure to enter the giveaway to win a print copy of Black City Dragon before you go!
About the Series
Black City Saint:
Black City Demon:
Black City Dragon:
A historical urban fantasy set in Prohibition-era Chicago, which combines action, mystery, and romance against a backdrop of gangland wars and the threat of supernatural horror.
For sixteen hundred years, Nick Medea has guarded the gate between our world and Feirie, preventing the Wyld–the darkest Feirie of all–from coming into Chicago to find human prey. But since he defeated Oberon, more and more Wyld have been slipping through. Nick and his Feirie companion, the shapeshifter, Fetch, have been busy hunting them down.
Nick keeps coming across the Dacian Draco, the sign of his ancient enemy Galerius, including a tattoo worn by a human thug. Unfortunately, every trail ends as if years old. Claryce, Nick’s reincarnated love, has narrowly escaped two attempts on her life, and when Nick sees her wearing a broach with the Draco on it, he knows they must look more deeply into her former lives.
With Wyld and gangsters wreaking havoc in Chicago, Nick and Claryce must confront the secrets of their pasts if they are to have any hope of finding out Galerius’s plans before it’s too late to stop them. Nick will need the help of all his friends, both human and Feirie, and the powers of the dragon within him, to keep Galerius from endangering the gate, Chicago, and all of humanity.
(Bold = Me, Regular = Richard)
Hi Richard, and welcome to the blog!
Hi! Thanks for having me!
Prohibition, Feirie creatures, Catholic saints, reincarnation, a dragon—I love how you manage to combine so many seemingly unrelated things and do it so well. How did you even get the idea for that?
Well, they all have one thing in common. They are things I have had interest in for years. Some, of course, I’ve made use of in my epic fantasy. However, in addition to ready fantasy, I also enjoy history and detective novels. Born and raised around Chicago, I heard a lot about Prohibition times. My intention was to write mysteries as well as fantasy.
One thing in my works that I like to do, is throw an incongruous element into a story, a fish out of water element. I’d always been fascinated by St. George and the dragon, but really couldn’t see repeating it in an epic fantasy.Meanwhile, I still wanted to write about bootleggers and the Roaring Twenties. Then, I began thinking of how I could get a dragon into Chicago, followed by how I could place it in the 1920s. I liked the idea of such an out of place character among so many unsavory figures. Of course, if I had a dragon, I needed to add some other parts of fantasy, like elves. Not the cheerful little kind, but the more old-fashioned unsettling one. I just didn’t want to plop them in there, though. There needed to be separate worlds, which meant there needed to be a gateway between those worlds.
Here’s how it steamrolled…
How did that gate come to be there, I wondered? How could there be a dragon without Chicago being reduced to a cinder or crushed? Who controlled the dragon. Hey, St.George defeated a dragon. I could make my hero St. George! But wait, this is 1600 years later. So, what’s he been doing? Why is he still alive? A quest? A curse? Yeah. A curse offers more options. How’d he get the curse? Something to do with the dragon. So, it’s his dragon that we see in Chicago. Say, if there’s a gateway, why aren’t elves and things spilling out of it? Because the gateway is guarded? By St. George? But why? Why’s it in Chicago, anyway? Say, the dragon maybe was guarding the gate, but St. George slew him so how can that be? Is he now forced to be the guardian…against his will? And how do I incorporate the dragon if he was slain? Bound to St. George somehow?
Yeah, this is the way my mind works. Something doesn’t seem likely to fit together? There’s always a way with me.
And thus was born BLACK CITY SAINT.
Speaking of the 1920s, the Prohibition Era is one of my favorite settings, and I love that it plays such a big part in the story. How much of that aspect is based on real history, and how much is creative liberty?
There’s a lot of actual history involved and I think that make it work all the better. Unless otherwise needed, I try to keep the facts true, but I show that there’s more to the events than most people realize. Take one of the central bits of history (no, not the Chicago Fire, although the logic of a dragon being responsible in some way is inarguable). The Wingfoot Express disaster. A piece of Chicago history I’d actually never heard about until a few years ago. A terrible disaster then…but what if more happened behind the scenes. So, a lot of the creative liberty involves actually adding details to something that happened, revealing the secret world Nick lives in and how it is affecting everyone without them realizing.
I’ll be honest, I think the dragon who shares Nick’s body is my favorite character in the series. His commentary cracks me up, and he’s just fascinating. Is he fun to write? Difficult? Both?
I thought he would be a danger to write. There was a risk he could become a mockery of what I intended, but as I started utilizing him, his comments just seemed to slip out naturally. I think he touches on my most sardonic side. He has become very fun to write, but I always try to watch that he doesn’t get carried away. You’ll notice that he doesn’t always voice an opinion, but I’ve come to realize that he’s always aware, always plotting. He’ll let me know when he has something he wants to say. Still, he is the dragon, so now and then, he’ll surprise me.
There are a lot of interesting characters, and Nick seems to have a precarious relationship with most of them, though there are a few he really cares about. Which character and/or relationship is your favorite to write?
That’s a tough one. The one between Nick and Claryce has really evolved as she’s proven to be his equal. On occasion, she puts him off-balance. There’s an intriguing relationship between Nick and Fetch, of course, but one of the most delicate ones is with the ghost, Diocles, aka the man who had him executed.
If there’s a favorite among favorites, I guess I have to say Nick and the dragon. They are so tied together, even literally, and have their own distrusts. Watching Nick do battle with the literal beast within him is always fascinating, especially since Nick doesn’t always win those battles. They come rather smoothly, though, maybe because those two were the first characters I really solidified. Without them together, there is no story.
I do love seeing how Nick and the dragon work together. Every book so far has had its own plot, but there are also a lot of connecting threads. Is there a specific ending that you’re working toward, or is the series open-ended for now?
I’m going to say yes on both. I do have a specific ending in mind, one tied to history as well, but as I’ve worked on the connecting threads, I’ve seen how the story has to go other, related directions at the same time. One way or another, I’m going to follow the path. I already know the plan for what is tentatively called BLACK CITY ANGEL, so, assuming that gets cemented, I’ll see where Nick and company want me to go afterward.
Ooh, I’m excited already! Now for Some Fun… The Lightning Round:
Night or day?
Hot weather or cold weather?
Vampires or werewolves?
Werewolves. Definitely werewolves.
Coffee or tea?
Movies or TV shows?
Depends on the movie or TV show…movies as a default, I suppose.
Thank you again for doing this interview with me! Is there anything else you want to say to your current and potential readers?
Thanks to those of you who have enjoyed the series! I appreciate spreading the word, of course. Always helpful. As for those of you who might be interested in the series…a dragon in Prohibition Chicago! What more do you need?
About the Author
Richard A. Knaak is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Legend of Huma, WoW: Wolfheart, and nearly fifty other novels and numerous short stories, including works in such series as Warcraft, Diablo, Dragonlance, Age of Conan, the Iron Kingdoms, and his own popular Dragonrealm. Black City Saint, and Rex Draconis sagas. He has scripted comics and manga, such as the top-selling Sunwell trilogy, and has also written background material for games. His works have been published worldwide in many languages.
His most recent releases include Black City Dragon — the third in his new urban fantasy series from Pyr Books — Lords of the Dragon Moon for his epic Rex Draconis saga, and Climate Changeling, based on the Flash television series. He is presently at work on several other projects, among them both Shadows of the Dragon Moon & Of Dragon’s Blood — the next steps in the Rex Draconis saga— continuing the Dragonrealm, and more.
Currently splitting his time between Chicago and Arkansas, he can be reached through his website: http://www.richardallenknaak.com where more information on this trilogy can be found. While he is unable to respond to every e-mail, he does read them. Join his mailing list for e-announcements of upcoming releases and appearances. Please also join him on Facebook at @richardallenknaak and Twitter.
If you like the Prohibition Era, dragons, fae, saints, urban fantasy, or all of the above, be sure to enter the giveaway, sponsored by the lovely people at Pyr Books and Kaye Publicity, to win a copy of Black City Dragon! It ends April 2nd!