Dragons have long influenced fantasy fiction.
But none of them have been like Gork.
We are a long way from Smaug, my friends. Gork is a teenage dragon in school, thrust into the moment of his coming of age tale. He is considered weak among his friends yet he has a huge heart. He has a goodness that goes beyond those around him, which draws darker forces. And he likes the prettiest dragon in school ‐ because who hasn’t?
I wanted to delve a bit more into Gork and who he is at his core. Author Gabe Hudson obliged, helping us understand his beloved dragon and how he came to write him.
Unbound Worlds: Gork, the Teenage Dragon is in bookstores this week! Tell Unbound Worlds about the book and its “big-hearted” dragon protagonist, Gork?
Gabe Hudson: My new novel Gork, the Teenage Dragon has the plot of a John Hughes movie, but takes place at a high school for dragons. The novel’s narrated by a sixteen year old dragon named Gork. He has two-inch horns, a giant heart, tends to faint a lot, and has a Will To Power ranking of Snacklicious, the lowest in his senior class. Gork is a senior at WarWings Military Academy for Draconum, and the novel takes place on Crown Day, when senior male dragons have to find a female dragon who will accept their crown and be their Queen. If the dragonette says yes, then the couple will launch into space, so that they can conquer a foreign planet together and start a colony. In this world, the female dragons are extremely fierce and tough. And Gork has his sights on Runcita, the most beautiful and powerful dragonette in his class.
Think of it as the most epic adventure ever to get a prom date, but with dragons.
UW: The obvious first question is: Why dragons?
GH: When a dragon decides to take over your life, you have no choice in the matter. Gork and his voice popped into my head one day out of the blue, and before I knew what was happening I’d written the first several pages of the novel. It felt as if I’d been put under some sort of spell. Most days, it felt like I was simply the dragon’s writing tool, transcribing the story he wanted to tell. Now maybe you’re asking yourself can a writer really be possessed by the spirit of a dragon? Of course, I’m sure it happens all the time. But the question you really should be asking is can a writer really be possessed by the living spirit of a teenage dragon named Gork who hails from planet Blegwethia and whose best friend is a silver robot dragon named Fribby with a Will To Power rank of MegaBeast? Well all I can say is that it happened to me. When I wanted to know what happened next in the story, I’d just ask Gork, and then he’d tell me and I’d write it down.
UW: Gork deals with a lot of the same issues that human teenagers do. Why was it important for you to tackle those issues?
GH: Well like I said, it was really Gork’s story and I didn’t have a lot of say in the matter. But I think Gork would probably tell you that teenage dragons and teenage humans are really quite similar, in terms of the things they have to deal with. Which is maybe part of the point. That far too often humans going around seeing other creatures, or even sometimes other humans, as The Other—and when they do this they cut themselves off from the part of themselves that sees the common denominator that exists between creatures. Also, as you know, dragons live for hundreds of years, whereas most humans are lucky if they live to be ninety. So from the dragon’s perspective, all humans are basically juvenile. Gork think it’s hilarious that humans make such a big deal out of age distinctions, as if one human is significantly more mature than another. He says that humans never really outgrow or develop beyond the same basic concerns they grappled with when they were teenagers. He thinks for human there should only really be two ages: Living and Dead.
UW: Gork, the Teenage Dragon has a lot of heart but also a lot of humor. How important is humor in your own life? Is it the only way to survive the teenage years?
GH: There’s no greater asset for surviving any age than humor, but especially the teenage years. Jokes are the ultimate survival tool. They are weapon, armor, food and water. Jokes are magic, they can stop time, control the weather, can teleport you from here to there. They can also function as nifty friend-making devices.
UW: Any plans for a sequel? Or, put better, what are you working on right now?
GH: I think Gork would enjoy telling more of his story, his voice is still very strong. But I’m sure whatever I write next will be related in some way to Gork’s world and planet Blegwethia. But it could be tangentially. I always loved how Terry Pratchett constructed his Discworld, and built so many characters and stories around that world. As a writer, what Pratchett achieved seems so singular and monumental, and his work is definitely a big inspiration.
Gork, the Teenage Dragon by Gabe Hudson is in fine bookstores now!