Author Elana A. Mugdan gets ready to fly to London

Bags packed and ready to launch

Author Elana A. Mugdan prepares for the UK

Whilst the writer of Dragon Speaker sat at JFK airport waiting to embark on the journey that would eventually bring her to Barnstaple, we squeezed in on last interview.

So you’re sat at the airport ready for your flight to England. Is it finally sinking in that your first novel is about to be released? How do you feel?

Right now I think I’m somewhat in shock. The past few days I’ve been working at my day job, as we struggling writers do, and this trip – along with the book’s release on Friday – has consumed my thoughts. I’ve been alternately excited and nervous, but I’m thankful to have gotten to this point. It’s been a long journey, and I honestly don’t know what will happen next . . . but I have this feeling my life will change one way or another, which I think that is a good thing.

It’s often said that an author’s first novel is always the hardest, but once the first one’s written, the desire to write more is overwhelming. Does this hold true for you?

Most definitely! In fact, Book II of The Shadow War Saga is already well underway. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to finish another couple of chapters on the flight. I’m going to continue with this series, and I’m sure it will keep me busy for years to come. When it’s finally done, I also have other ideas for stories – still set in the world of Allentria – that I’m keen to start working on.

So the world of Allentria will lead to books outside of The Shadow War Saga? Are you doing anything to build Allentria outside of the actual books?

Yes, I have about 10,000 years of fictional history that I want to explore. I’ve planned a prequel trilogy that centers around the greatest and most destructive war the Allentrians have ever experienced, which is what I plan to work on next. I’ve had a lot of inspiration for those books of late, so I’m really excited about them.

In terms of world-building, I’ve been working on maps of Allentria and its kingdoms with my amazing artist friends, Kris and Simon, who work under the name atelierMUSE. I hope to keep working on the main map, and to soon have an interactive map set up on the website for fans to enjoy.

It’s already clear to see why fantasy fans are so excited by this! Allentria, and it’s history, sounds so vast. What was your creation process?

I’ve been working on the world and all of its creatures now for over a decade, and I started writing the first book when I was a teenager. Over the years, as the story expanded, I worked out the backstory of the ten ages between the end of the first Shadow War and the Twelfth Age, which is when Keriya’s story takes place. It was quite fun to sit there and come up with all the catastrophic events that have plagued the world of Selaras over the eons. I guess it just naturally came over time, because once you start an idea, you’re always thinking about it.

At the launch, you’ll be reading the opening chapter of Dragon Speaker – and in costume! Although you’re an incredibly competent actress, are you expecting it to feel different reading your own work aloud to a room full of strangers?

I’ve written and acted in most of my own films, so I’m used to reading my work in front of people, though I’ll be the first to admit it’s always a harrowing experience. This particular event will be different than the performance style I’m used to, which is primarily film acting, because of the nature of the work. I’ve done theater in the past, but this is even different from that, because I’ll have to be the narrator *and* every single one of the characters. That being said, I’m really excited with the challenge this presents! Fortunately, as the author, I know what’s going through each of the characters’ heads, so that should help me bring them to life when I share the reading with the audience.

So you’ll be reading each character “in character”?

Oh yes, that’s the fun part! I’ve been working on my voices and accents. I don’t have an exact count, but I have close to fifty distinct voices in my voice acting repertoire, and I’ve been practicing to develop new ones specifically for the book.

Well we can’t wait for you to land so we can get things going! Emotionally, how do you think you’ll feel to be attending your own launch? And what will it be like for your parents, who will be sat in the crowd?

There’s always an element of nervousness leading up to anything like this, but mostly I’m excited and grateful for everything that has happened to lead me to this point. I’m very thankful for my parents, who have facilitated this trip and who have supported me every step of the way (and who have proof read my manuscript multiple times). And I’m really glad they’re coming to England to share in the experience of the book’s release. We’ve all been to England before, but for me it’s been years, so I’m looking forward to seeing the country again.

And the country’s very much looking forward to seeing you guys! Finally, with just three days left, do you have a message for those who are attending the event?

I certainly hope they enjoy it, and I also hope they’ll like the book itself. I understand fantasy is sort of a niche genre, but I believe there are many ubiquitous themes in Dragon Speaker that will appeal to all types of readers. And if they do enjoy the book, I’d like to assure them that part two is almost complete, and that this is only the beginning of what I hope will be a great adventure for us all.

We’d very much like to thank Elana for her time, and wish her a pleasant journey.

If you’d like to attend the launch of Dragon Speaker, which takes place in Barnstaple library between 6-8pm this Friday, all further details can be found on our Facebook page.

To pre-order a copy of Dragon Speaker, which Elana can sign for you at the event, you can buy it from our shop. Click “local delivery” if you’re attending the event to save the postage fee.

Can’t make the event? Don’t worry. We’ll also have a stall at Green Man Day, where you can get your book and meet Elana.

Thanks for reading, and remember to share the article if your friends might enjoy it!

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