Today we’re celebrating the launch of The Dragon Healer by Aussie Indie author, Tiani Davids with a review (from yours truly) and an interview with the author herself.
Read on for details about self-publishing in Australia, and recommendations for world-building in the fantasy genre.
What Is The Dragon Healer About?
Elinta Ferran can feel the emotions of a dragon….
Elinta has wanted to be a healer her whole life and is in her third year as an apprentice when she stumbles upon something impossible; a dragon.
The laws of Eldras mandate that the beast be killed, but the dragon is injured and Elinta won’t put aside her training. When she’s discovered with the beast, Elinta’s world is turned upside down and she’s forced to flee her home on the dragon’s back. But an unusual bond has begun to form between them, one that hasn’t been seen in over one hundred and fifty years.
When Lorrin, Prince of Eldras, stumbles upon them while going against the king’s wishes, Elinta must decide whether their fate lies together or apart. One road could lead Elinta to a life of loneliness, but the other will lead her straight into danger. If she goes to the palace with the prince, she’ll be hiding in plain sight of the very people who want the dragon killed.
But the officials of Eldras aren’t the only ones after the dragon. Someone sinister is lurking in the shadows and he’s ready to make his move, and Elinta might just be in the way.
The Dragon Healer is perfect for fans of ‘How to Train your Dragon,’ ‘Red Queen,’ and ‘Eragon’.
Interview with Tiani Davids
What led you to write your debut novel, The Dragon Healer?
A great mix of things, actually. I’d been wanting to write a book about dragons for quite a while, but I wasn’t entirely dedicated to writing at that point due to pursuing some other paths in and after uni. But some health issues (that are now thankfully gone!) meant that I had a lot more time on my hands and I turned back to writing. I wrote a vigilante story first, but throughout writing that, I just had this desire to go and take another look at my dragon ideas. So as soon as I’d finished the vigilante story, I dove into worldbuilding, outlining, and then drafting The Dragon Healer! It was a hard time for me because of my health, but I’m so thankful to God that this door was opened for me because of it. I don’t know that I ever would have really sat down and pursued this! The Eldrasian Chronicles have brought me so much joy, I can’t wait to share the first book with everyone.
What do readers have to look forward to when they pick up The Dragon Healer?
An apprentice healer who chooses the hard path because it’s right, a dragon with a hidden past and hunted by the world, and a unique bond that ties them together! There’s also a prince, a wonderful, cocky but funny friend, a slow-burn romance with a ballroom scene, and a world that needs changing.
How did you decide on the publication model you wanted to use to bring The Dragon Healer to readers?
I tossed up between indie and traditional publishing for a while, mostly because the prospect of indie publishing was daunting to me. But the more stories I heard about trad publishing, the more I realized that wasn’t what I wanted. You have far less control in traditional publishing, and you’re never guaranteed that your career will continue after your contract is fulfilled.
As soon as I really began entertaining the idea of indie publishing I knew I’d need to do a lot of research into it. It’s an intimidating prospect to do it all yourself, so knowing the ins and outs really helps diminish those nerves. I also wanted to go wide (have my book available on more than just Amazon). I’ve ultimately decided to publish through three companies; KDP, IngramSpark, and Draft2Digital, and this seems to have been the right pick for me. Shout out to Bethany Atazadeh for sharing such informative videos on her Youtube about the different companies (and also for being an amazing writer)! There’s a lot to consider when deciding what paths to take.
As an Australian debut Indie Author, what are some of the challenges you’ve faced by self-publishing in Australia?
Luckily, nothing major. The internet really makes things easier these days. But the writing and publishing world isn’t very big in Australia, and we don’t have a lot of things in place to encourage its growth. Unfortunately, most companies also seem to be not only US-based but also preferenced towards the US. Luckily, we’re not limited in using these companies to publish, but often some of their features are only available in America, or sometimes the UK. Even a lot of payments are done in USD, so we have to pay currency conversion too! I’ve had to source my cover designer and editor from the US, and while they’ve been absolutely fantastic to work with (seriously, I love them), I wish there could have been more to look into here in Australia.
You also find that most writer events are US only, so you really have to rely on social media to connect with the community. But ultimately, that’s all OK. These things will likely change over time and all of us Australian authors will be ready and waiting!
What do you wish you’d known about self-publishing when you started working on The Dragon Healer?
This is actually a tough one for someone like me who researches everything! I guess I wish I’d realized in those early days, when I was tossing up between trad and indie, just how fantastic and talented the indie community is. I’ll be honest, a few books had left a bad taste in my mouth and I was a little worried about whether joining that community would be worth it. But luckily authorgram and bookstagram really changed my mind, and I jumped right in! This community is full of such talented people, who really deserve to be seen, and I’m so glad that this misconception (that I openly admit to once having!) is beginning to disappear.
From the title, it’s very clear that The Dragon Healer features magical creatures readers may be familiar with: Dragons. What’s your advice for fellow fantasy writers on how to lean into familiar worldbuilding elements, without a story feeling derivative of other books?
This is a question that plagues a lot of writers! And it was even something I thought a lot on when designing my dragons. It’s that balance of what’s unique to one writer, and what’s common enough that it’s a normal, or semi-common, trait? After all, dragons aren’t real, so I couldn’t just go to the zoo and write down the features I saw. I didn’t want to cramp my creativity either, though, in trying to find that balance.
Ultimately, I think it comes down more to what role those creatures play and the story beats that you use, rather than the design of the dragons themselves. I could write a book about a blue dragon that can talk and at first your mind might go to Eragon, but then the story might be about the dragon enslaving humanity. There are always going to be some similarities, but it’s the differences that count.
When writing fantasy, what are your favourite tools or resources to use?
I love this question! I really dove into the resources when worldbuilding and I just love to recommend them to people.
HelloFutureMe on Youtube is honestly so fantastic. He unpacks tropes, magic systems, story beats and elements in video essays, using common fantasy movies and shows to explain (he just loves Avatar The Last Airbender, so that’s in every video!). It’s an amazing resource for working on craft.
WorldAnvil is also a great tool for worldbuilding. It’s in the same vein as Campfire, where you can record all your worldbuilding in an ordered way. The forms can even help with prompting you on what you may want to design. I used this is the very early days of my worldbuilding, but ultimately ended up swapping back to plain old word as it works better for my system.
The Dragon Healer features a fictional language, which you created yourself—why did you do this, and what was your process for this?
It does! I honestly had so much fun doing this. I really wanted Eldras, the world in The Dragon Healer, to feel living and whole, and it just made sense to me that this race of beings would have their own language. It was several hundreds of years before Asali and humans met, so it wouldn’t have worked for them to both have developed the same language.
Once again, I did a ton of research. I wanted to have a proper system, rather than making up words whenever a sentence in Asalin popped up (there’s nothing wrong with this by the way, I just really wanted to have a somewhat functional language that I could share with others).
I found David J Peterson (the mastermind behind nearly every conlang [constructed language] in movie and tv) and devoured clips of interviews he’s done. I followed his process, working from the ground up, and made my language!
Where can readers find you (and your books)?
I’m on Instagram @tianidavids, or Facebook @authortianidavids.
Thanks for joining me on the blog, Tiani!
Thank you for having me! Zetayn nalliyan ayn palla kli ayn karn mai ti
Lastly, my review?
Thank you to Tiani Davids for an advance review copy.
This is a remarkable debut novel. The depth of world-building was excellent and I loved diving into what feels like a fresh story about dragons and those who love them. For fans of How To Train Your Dragon and Eragon it’s a valuable addition to the genre. Elinta is an engaging lead who finds herself on the outside after helping (rather than killing) a dragon she finds injured in her village.
Highlights from the read include the banter, friendships, political intrigue and slow burn romance and scope of the world. It truly feels like this series has just begun revealing itself and I’m excited to see where it goes next. The original language and culture developed for the story feels fresh and exciting, integrated and drives the plot onward.
The only potential drawback is that the structure of the story can feel overly familiar at times, occasionally to the detriment of pacing. Additionally, the ending of the book felt sudden and left me looking for more answers than I’d received. I’m hoping for some more villainy in the next instalment to increase the tension.
Overall the comfort and enjoyment of this story can’t be understated if you’re looking for a cozy fantasy story with the promise of more to be delivered in the sequels. Clearly, a lot is being set up in this novel for the next instalments and Tiani Davids is a new Aussie author to watch. Definitelyconsider picking up a copy of The Dragon Healer!