Recently I’ve been reading novels by newer, largely unknown indie writers. By way of helping them along, I’ll be introducing some of them here. These authors are up-and-coming, at varying stages in their development as writers. They may not all have the polish of traditionally published authors, but I think they all have potential and deserve encouragement.
Penny White is a faithful and caring Anglican priest with a bit too much familiarity with alcohol. That might explain why, coming upon the scene of a traffic accident, she finds herself giving last rites to a fatally injured dragon. Yes, dragon. Curiously, inebriation didn’t conjure this situation. The deceased dragon is real, and her pastoral care for the exotic creature is about to catapult her into a new Church role: Vicar General of Incursions. Turns out our world and another coexist in close proximity, connected by “thin places” where those who can sense them–or who just stumble upon them–can cross between. Stranger still, that other world is populated by, among other things, dragons, unicorns, griffons, harpies, and snail sharks.
The Vicar General of Incursions has to deal with accidental crossings. Somebody has to do that because, trust me, you don’t want a snail shark infestation! Still, Penny has enough on her plate already: her much younger brother, just returned from New Zealand with computer skills but no cash and even less sense of responsibility; her husband’s accidental death in a boating accident a few years before; deathwatch beetles eating the pews; clueless parishioners; other people’s tragedies. For anyone else, it would all be too much. But Penny has a thing for dragons, not to mention Dr. Who and Star Wars and whatnot, so she can hardly refuse the appointment. Besides, at least one dragon seems to have a thing for her. As does a certain police inspector. And more seriously, the death of that dragon in a traffic accident may have been no accident.
The Temptation of Dragons reads like a cross between Harry Potter and The Vicar of Dibley. It’s a fun romp through fantasy and reality, tinged with humor and pathos. Both story and writing are solid, proving that indie writers can indeed publish material every bit as good as anything that comes out of a traditional publishing house. There is a healthy dose of Anglican religion, but not in a preachy way. It’s simply a necessary part of Penny White’s life, done well because Cymri is also a priest. I’m looking forward to reading the next installment in Penny’s life, The Cult of Unicorns, as well as the subsequent novels. So, zero complaints, five stars. Well done!
I recently asked Chrys Cymri about the novel and her writing. Here’s what she said:
This is a wonderful novel. Is it your first, or had you written other novels before?
My first two novels were traditionally published in 1996. Sadly, these only sold around 5,000 copies each, so the publisher and my agent dropped me. I continued to write, but only a couple of years ago did I decide to publish what I’d produced during those years. Penny White, however, is only two years old.
Like Penny White, you’re a priest. How much of her is really you?
When my bishop told me, “I really enjoy Penny White,” I felt the need to tell him, “But I can assure you I don’t drink as much as she does.” We do have similar tastes in whisky and Doctor Who, but she is far more reticent than me. (I have a tendency to say what I think and then get into trouble for it). I don’t have her same family experiences and, sadly, there’s no darkly beautiful dragon haunting my back garden.
I couldn’t help but notice (as I said in my review) certain resemblances to both Harry Potter and The Vicar of Dibley. How much (if any) have either of those influenced the development of the Penny White series?
I like Harry Potter, but I’m more of a Narnia fan, and I think that might be the greater influence. I’ve only seen a couple of Vicar of Dibley episodes, but I did enjoy Rev and, again, that’s probably had more of bearing on what and how I write.
Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about Penny’s further adventures?
Well, the romantic triangle continues, but isn’t the major focus of the series. I’ve just finished the fifth novel, and there is a resolution of sorts. In the fourth book, The Vengeance of Snails, we finally discover the truth about who Clyde really is. Penny becomes far more involved in the magical country of Lloegyr as the series goes on, and discovers that there is a dark side to her adventures.
What advice to you have for writers or readers?
Writers: Don’t publish too soon. Make sure you have people read your novels, and take on board their criticism. Readers: Please do leave reviews. It keeps us writers going when we’re plugging on late into the night after a long day at work.
Where can readers find you?