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Review by Anniek
Born in Aeria, Keriya Nameless, has basically been ignored all her life. Her mother died at childbirth and with no man who claimed her as his daughter Keriya remained nameless. In Aeria the people have magical abilities. Keriya has none and therefore she is seen as unworthy. Every year there is a Ceremony of Choice. This ceremony will show the persons who participate which profession they'll have after they return to the village. If they don't return their life will be a sacrifice for the goddess.
Before people can participate in this ceremony the Elders must find them worthy first. Keriya is eavesdropping when the Elders are naming the worthy children. Keriya is not one of them. She interrupts the meeting and tries to get the Elders to change their mind. It works, Keriya is also placed to take part in the ceremony. A lot of people are not happy about this and the Elders think that Keriya will never make it back to the village alive. Will she succeed?
Keriya is a young girl who has always felt that she's not good enough. She rebels against the Elders of Aeria and this often results in punishment. All Keriya wants is to be heard and seen. My heart ached for her, because all she is craving is love and attention. When the goddess Shivnath chooses Keriya as the one to save the last living dragon she finally has a chance to make people see that she's worthy after all. She has to flee her village and she has to grow up quickly to fulfill her quest. I liked to read about how well she was adapting to her new life. Keriya is smart and at times still naïve. That's expected of a young girl who has never been outside of the village she grew up in. Even though it's difficult to see Keriya as a heroine in the beginning she turns out to be the perfect choice after all.
Elana Mugdan has created a mesmerizing magical world. She has a great imagination and this shows in the characters and their customs. Elana Mugdan is also a filmmaker and I think it's because of this she manages to make the story come alive so well. I could visualize it without any problems and loved the vivid descriptions. I could also easily picture Keriya's journey and the people she has to deal with. On Elana Mugdan's website there are images of the characters and their world, which made it even more real for me. Dragon Speaker is new and refreshing. I love it that this story is so unique. Elana Mugdan's amazing book made me a fan of her fabulous fantasy world.
About Elana Mugdan
Elana Mugdan is an author and filmmaker based in New York City. She has received many accolades in the film industry, including a number of awards for her feature film Director's Cut, which she wrote, produced and directed, and awards for unproduced feature-length screenplays.
Ms. Mugdan has always been an avid reader, and is a lifelong fan of fantasy and science fiction stories. She is described by her friends and family as "the weirdest person I know", and wears that weirdness proudly on her sleeve. Some of her favorite authors include J.R.R Tolkein, Philip Pullman and Robert Jordan.
Ms. Mugdan currently resides in New York, living a quiet but eccentric life with her pet snake, Medusa.
Find out more at
1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I'm a born-and-raised New Yorker, but I'm a country girl at heart. I love my city, but there's just something about being out in the wilderness and climbing a mountain that gets me. I've always loved reading and writing, and I wrote my first "book" when I was five years old. I spent the past ten years in the film industry but now I'm focusing on my writing career, and it feels like I've finally ended up where I was meant to be.
2. If you would be a dragon what would you look like?
It's hard to choose, because there are a lot of dragons I'd love to model myself after! I think I'd have pale-colored scales, something light and metallic to catch the rays of the sun -- maybe diamond-white, or bronze like Thorion (the main dragon in my book). The dragons in my series all have purple eyes, a color which denotes a particular type of arcane magic that they're able to wield. So I'd definitely have purple eyes, too. Just like snowflakes, no two dragons are alike, so I could have a lot of variety in regards to armor and horns...but I think I'd keep it simple. I'd just have two pearly horns on my head, curved like those of a ram.
3. What's your favorite festive holiday and why?
Halloween, without question. Growing up it was always my favorite holiday, the one day of the year I looked forward to most. Everything about it appeals to me: the season, the decorations, the parties, the sense of community, the fact that you get to dress up and pretend to be someone else for a day, and of course, who doesn't love running around all night hunting for free candy? It was always an adventure when I went out trick-or-treating. Even to this day I still make it a point to dress up and go out in the neighborhood to see the costumes and wish everyone a Happy Halloween!
4. You are also a filmmaker. If you could make any film you'd like what would you do?
I've got a number of projects on my wish list. Obviously I'd love to see my books get adapted for the silver screen, and I think Dragon Speaker in particular is well-suited to be turned into a film. Apart from my own work, there are a few other books I'd love to make into movies. One of my favorite books is The Last Unicorn. It's been made into an animated film (which I also adore), but it's long been a dream of mine to make the live-action version!
5. What's your favorite movie or TV-show?
I don't watch a lot of t.v. -- mostly because I don't have time for it -- but my favorite movies are the Lord of the Rings films. They came out when I was pretty young, and I remember sitting awestruck in the theater during Fellowship and thinking, "I want to make movies like that". Those were the films that made me want to be a filmmaker. Other favorites include The Last Unicorn, mentioned above, and the old classic, Dragonheart. Come to think of it, Dragonheart is another film I'd love to remake...the original was great, but I think it would be amazing to see Draco get a makeover with the CGI technology we have today!
6. You are known by your friends and family for being weird. What's the weirdest thing about you?
Oh dear, there's lots of weird things about me, some of which I probably shouldn't admit on the internet ;) Most of my idiosyncrasies are fairly run-of-the mill (e.g., I like my dinners cold and my water warm), but there are more interesting things, too. I'd rather cuddle with a 12-foot python than a standoffish cat. I like bugs. A lot. (When I was young I used to kiss dead bugs and give them funerals.) Oh, and I can do a "bowling ball" -- I can do a back bend, grab my ankles, and roll along the ground just like a bowling ball might. Between that and all my double joints, I could have had a very promising career as a circus performer.
7. What do you like to do when you're not reading or writing?
I love nature and the outdoors, and I try to go hiking as often as I can. There are some really great locations upstate where I enjoy going on the weekends, especially during the fall season when the leaves are changing color and the weather is just right. If I can't get out of the city, I'll go running in my neighborhood. And of course, every now and then I'll go to midtown to catch up with friends and party a little!
8. You have a pet snake Medusa. What fascinates you about snakes?
I love all animals, but snakes are a particular favorite of mine. Call me weird (everyone else does!), but I think they're adorable. I love their faces and their cute little tongues. If you find a snake with a nice temperament, like Medusa, it's so easy to cuddle with them. Of course, snakes are like people: some are nice, and some are not so nice. You have to know the snake you're handling and respect its boundaries. I'm very fortunate in that Medusa has the sweetest disposition. She's very patient and tolerant, and if I'm at home writing, she'll just hang out around my neck with me. It's actually very relaxing.
9. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
The best advice I can give is that like everything else, good writing requires practice. You have to carve out time in your schedule to work at it. Give yourself a couple hours every night to sit and write. It helps you get into the routine of working on your stories daily. The next best thing you can do is to read. It keeps you sharp, and by reading great books you can pick up great writing techniques. Finally, it never hurts to carry around an idea notebook, a place where you can scribble down ideas the moment they come to you. You may be struck by inspiration at work, but by the time you get home you've forgotten that brilliant storyline you came up with. If you can, jot it down in a notebook and revisit it later -- it really does help!
10. What can we expect from you in the future?
Over the course of the next ten years there will be four more books published in The Shadow War Saga series. Book Two is nearly complete, and Book Three is done (I know...I enjoy writing out of order, what can I say?). I'm really excited about the upcoming books, and also for the potential US release of Dragon Speaker, which we hope will be slated for summer 2017. There are many more stories I want to tell, most of which are based in the world of Allentria. I have a trilogy of prequels planned, as well as a standalone novel about Shivnath, the great dragon god of the Smarlands. If I'm very lucky, in the future I'll have the chance to tell all of these stories and more :)
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