Children’s fantasy author Julia Suzuki drops in to tell us about her series, The Land of Dragor, and what contemporary issues inspired her books.
Thank you for inviting me as a guest on your blog, it’s a pleasure to be here.
The Land of Dragor is a children’s fantasy series, the prequel was published in September last year, which focuses on Yoshiko, a young dragon born from a mysterious egg, and the trials he must overcome, with the help of his friends, to bring back to Dragor what had previously been lost.
In a secret land, far away from the habitation of man, dwell the world’s remaining dragons, hoping the dragsaur beasts have vanished forever. Here they try to go about their busy daily lives, but all is not well and their talents are fading. Things change, however, when, from a strange egg, Yoshiko is born – a dragon with a unique destiny. Great adventure lies ahead for him, as many challenges must be overcome, leading to a dangerous mission to the human world in attempt to return to the clans their missing magic! Can Yoshiko make it in time?
Although The Gift of Charms marks the beginning of a fantasy adventure series, anti-bullying is one of the main themes. Bullying is a serious issue that plagues many of us, adults and children alike, and has an immense effect on our lives. I believe it’s important for role models in the media, and artists in the various forms, to address such issues, to encourage people to be fairer to one another. Literature is a hugely influential medium; books can help teach children how to behave, by introducing them to a difficult situation and showing them a way they may be able to deal with it. Bullying is something that should be taken very seriously, as no one deserves to be hurt by another person by blatant meanness. We should all look to find happiness but the concept of ‘utopia’ can only be achieved through kindness to one another.
In the same breath, a deeper understanding should also be encouraged. Although Igorr treats Yoshiko unfairly, it isn’t as clear-cut as it first appears. Igorr has a difficult relationship with his father and has grown up with a bitter streak and the need to impress his peers above all else – to look strong and feel validated no matter what that entails. In reality all he is doing is letting himself down – and being held back from reaching his own real potential. The deliberate infliction of pain on the innocent is not justifiable but the cause of this nastiness can be an actual defence mechanism; lashing out at others at times is a symptom of someone who has been hurt or bullied themselves by others. Attempting to engage a bully in conversation and understand their situation can be a positive way of getting to the bottom of why they bully, and, through helping them with their own issues can stop them from hurting others again.
Another theme that runs strongly through the series is tolerance. Many clans live together in Dragor, but the Alana dragons believe they are the best clan, and look upon the others as inferior. The idea of everyone living together in harmony, is one that many of us have, but it unfortunately has not been the reality – only tolerance and acceptance can help us to achieve this goal. We should embrace similarities, and celebrate differences, as they are what make us unique. We all have qualities we bring to any situation, talents we can utilise, and weaknesses we should accept and work through together. Through embracing the fact that we need the talents and input of others, we can work towards a better, more accepting society. This theme that runs through the series is particularly poignant, as it relates strongly to what is going on in the world right now.
I often visit schools and talk to the children about such issues. I love engaging with them, seeing them get lost in the world of Dragor, and take to heart the messages inside. I believe it is important for us to spread awareness of important issues close to our hearts, and I am doing so through my books. It gives me great pleasure to be able to do so.
It would be naïve for any author to claim that their books can change the whole world. But, if many individuals are reached, if we help by shedding some light, if we speak out against bullying, against racism, or any other wrong being done to or around us, then they – and I – have succeeded in making a difference. I believe, for all of us, making a difference is our purpose here on this planet.
Julia Suzuki grew up in Staffordshire, listening to the magical sounds of fair rides and animals from a theme park across the stream at the bottom of her garden. Through working with a Disney licensing company and working with entrepreneur David Lloyd in an international resorts business, Julia visited many beautiful places, inspiring the setting for her literature. Her love of reading, of nature and of the outdoors fed her colourful imagination and inspired her to become an author. Visit her website http://www.juliasuzuki.com to discover more. You can also find Julia on Twitter: @JuliaSuzuki_uk.
Julia has just finished writing the second novel in The Dragor Series. To buy The Gift of Charms, visit bit.ly/BuyDragorBooks.
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