With her debut fantasy The Ruin of Kings just hitting the shelves, we caught up with author Jenn Lyons and asked her a few searching questions about one of our favourite topics – dragons!*

*may also contain kraken

Dragons! What made you fall in love with dragons? Do you think it is possible to ever have too many dragon stories (we don’t!)?

My first memory of a dragon was my mother taking me to see Sleeping Beauty. I think I was around four-years-old? I remember liking the movie–but when Maleficent turned into a dragon at the climax I was awestruck (also more than a little disappointed when she died.) I have adored dragons ever since and truly, it’s simply impossible to have too many dragon stories.

How has the writing process for the second book changed since the first? What do you wish you knew before you started writing a fantasy series?

It only changed in that I suddenly had a deadline to contend with that hadn’t existed with the first book. That’s a fairly infamous curse of debut authors, as I understand it. After all, you may take years to complete the first book and then suddenly have just months to complete the second. So that was a bit stressful until I figured out how to cope. What do I wish I’d known? Hm. To have more faith in myself! This whole series came close to never existing simply because I assumed that no publisher would be interested. Thank goodness for friends who pushed me forward in spite of myself.

What is the strangest thing you have ever done for research when writing? Have you ever come up with a crazy idea just to excuse countless hours of bizarre research?

I once spent almost a year studying genetics and epidemiology for a science-fiction story, and that information ended up being a throw away sentence. I had fun doing the research, but I absolutely overdid it. However, I don’t need an excuse – if something’s interesting to me, I’ll find a way to use it.

As a self-proclaimed proud geek, what is it about genre fiction in particular you love so much? What should we all be reading?

As a child, I needed the escape. Oh, I needed it in the worst way. I had a brutal childhood, and the last thing I wanted was to exist in this world when I could run away to Narnia, Barsoom, or Middle-Earth. As an adult, I have more appreciation for the genre’s ability to address truths about ourselves and our existence, to ask questions, to interrogate our assumptions—and to do so while also entertaining. I don’t just think that’s important, I think that’s vitally necessary.

And how am I supposed to pick just one book when there’s so much amazing stuff out there right now? If you haven’t already, take a look at R. F. Kuang’s The Poppy War, as well as Robert Jackson Bennet’s Foundryside (and his The Divine Cities books as well) and Alexandra Rowland’s A Conspiracy of Truths. And then I will jump up and down recommending some books to look out for later this year: Max Gladstone’s The Empress of Forever and Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth. Amazing.

Pitch us The Ruin of Kings! Why should we pick up a copy?

Well, to steal a line from the late, great William Goldman, because it has fencing, fighting, true love, pirates—okay, no pirates, but it does have a kraken. Also, dragons, demons, mimics, wizards, gods, dinosaurs, and a hero who finds himself in the center of a conspiracy of evil sorcerers who all believe his fate is tied to the fate of the empire.
Did I mention the dragons?

Jenn Lyons lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, three cats and a nearly infinite number of opinions on anything from Sumerian mythology to the correct way to make a martini. She is a video game producer by day and spends her evenings writing science fiction, fantasy and paranormal mysteries.

We have 5 copies of The Ruin of Kings to give away to some lucky UK readers, so head on over to Twitter!