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The Dragon of Ynys a Clean LGBTQ Fantasy by Minerva Cerridwen ➱ Book Tour with Giveaway
Dragon of Ynys
Clean LGBTQ Fantasy
time something goes missing from the village, Sir Violet makes his
way to the dragon’s cave and negotiates the item’s return. It’s
annoying, but at least the dragon is polite.
when the dragon hoards a person, that’s a step too far. Sir Violet
storms off to the mountainside to escort the baker home, only to find
a more complex mystery—a quest that leads him far beyond the cave.
Accompanied by the missing baker’s wife and the dragon himself, the
dutiful village knight embarks on his greatest adventure yet.
Dragon of Ynys is an inclusive fairy tale for all ages.
Violet had heard quite a few stories about dragons and while they didn't agree on most points, all of them mentioned that their kind preferred to live in caves. So without wasting time, he informed the mayor that he had found a clue, and then left her house and the village. He walked all the way to the mountainside and it took no longer than an hour to find a large cave.
As he entered, he wished the dragon had chosen a sunnier day. Cloudy as it was, he could only see a couple of steps ahead, and the darkness beyond made it impossible to know how deep into the rock the cavity went.
He trod onto what felt like thick carpet, and grunted as he stubbed his toe against something hard. A similar growl sounded in answer. For a moment, Violet wondered if echoes could be louder than the original sound, but then there was a rustle and the tinkling of metal against metal.
"Excuse me?" he called.
A black mass moved out of the darkness and two yellow eyes fixed on Violet. "Excuse me, you said?" a deep, reverberating voice asked. "What should I excuse you for?"
"Er..." Violet took a few steps back from the giant, scaly face. "Disturbing you, I suppose. Though actually, I guess that you are the one who owes the mayor an apology."
"An apology?" the dragon repeated. "We are meeting for the first time and you are demanding an apology? Is that how your people say hello?" The creature sat on its hind legs, but its head still towered high above Violet's. It did catch some light now, and he could see the gleam of enormous fangs.
He wondered if this had been a safe plan, but then decided it would be better to just press on. "Fine," he said, "I don't care all that much about the apology. But what I do care about is that the mayor employed me to return her golden chain. I have reason to believe it is in your possession, and I would like to take it back."
"Oh, all right." The dragon sounded rather amused. "I suppose that in a place like your village, that chain really is the only perk of being mayor. Far be it from me to take that joy away."
With a loud tinkle of moving coins, the beast shifted and reached behind itself. Then it dangled the golden chain, hooked on a claw that looked at least as dangerous as the fangs, in front of Violet's face.
"Here you go. Sorry for causing you trouble."
"Thank you." Violet was not exactly an expert when it came to gold, but the chain seemed to be unharmed. "I will leave you to it, then."
"To...being a dragon and doing...dragon things." Violet frowned. "What I meant is, I'll be off, returning this."
"Of course. Have a nice day." Going by the shimmer of its teeth, the dragon was still smiling.
With the chain safely back around the mayor's neck, a council meeting was called in order to decide what to do about the dragon.
"I don't think there is much you can do about it," Violet mused. "I've seen it, and I think it's a little too heavy to simply kick out of its lair. Besides, it's not actually in our village. And it was quite polite."
"But surely a dragon can mean nothing but trouble," one of the two council members piped up. "Perhaps this was only the beginning!"
"We don't know how long this dragon has been living here," the mayor countered. "We've never even seen it fly over Ynys. At least I haven't. Now it has stolen one thing and returned it upon a simple request from Sir Violet. I don't think we have to fear this creature."
So, to Violet's relief, the meeting was over before dinnertime, and the mayor did not assign the village's only knight to go up against the dragon.
He had thought he would be terrified. After a lifetime of having both feet firmly on the ground, flying had not sounded appealing at all. But secretly...it was amazing! He could see all of Ynys behind him, glimpsed what was beyond the other bank of the river, saw the fields shrink into a green and brown chequered carpet.
Even as they rose into the fog and he had to look over the side of Snap's wide back to see the jagged rock beneath them, he was quite certain that this was the best thing that had ever happened to him.
So of course the dragon had to ruin it.
"Please stay in the middle," he said. "It's exhausting to make adjustments for your weight all the time, and if you fall, I doubt Holly will appreciate the nosedive. That is, if we are in time to catch you at all."
"Point taken," Violet mumbled, centring himself once again. "It's just— You never told me how beautiful the world is, seen from the sky."
"You were walking on it," Snap said. "I thought you knew."
As Violet marvelled at the feeling of the cold air around his head and at the white landscape of ridges and crevasses to their sides, he almost forgot that they were on a quest. It might have taken almost an hour, but it felt far too soon when the dragon started his descent.
"Hold on tight," he warned, and Violet became aware that he liked this part a lot less.
He reluctantly picked up his pace so he'd be closer to Snap. Which, of course, meant he bumped into his tail when the dragon stopped suddenly.
Once again, he landed on his back in the snow.
"Sorry about that," Snap said. "I found it!"
"Oh, it's nothing," Violet answered as he scrambled upright again. "Who needs dry trousers when they're already freezing to death?"
Holly was looking at the ground between Snap's front paws. As Violet stood beside her, he saw a small, round, silver object in the snow.
"You think that a bell will lead us to Juniper?" Holly asked, puzzled.
"Oh. No, this has nothing to do with Juniper." The dragon frowned. "I understand why you might think so. But no. This just caught my eye as we flew over. It's smaller than I expected from the gleam, but look." He hooked the tip of a claw behind the ring at the top of the bell. "It's very pretty. And it smells only a little bit of sheep."
"Pretty?" Holly grabbed the bell and threw it as far away as she could. "You're telling me we're wasting time here because of such a ridiculous thing?"
"Hey!" Snap followed its flight with his eyes. "I was going to hoard that!"
"You can grow your hoard when Juniper and I are back home!" Holly took a deep, trembling breath. "Please. Until we've seen that she's safe, I want no more distractions. From you or Violet."
"Now what did I do?"
Snap's gaze lingered in the direction where the bell had flown and he looked sadder than Violet thought was possible for a dragon. But then he seemed to pull himself together. "Fine. I'll return for it later. We'll just hope no one else ever comes here to hoard things, right?"
He dropped to his belly and for a moment Violet thought it was his way of mourning the lost treasure, but then Holly climbed onto Snap's back and Violet realised he should do the same. Hopefully the warmth would dry his clothes a little faster.
What inspired you to write this book?
At the end of 2016, I saw a call for submissions from Less Than Three Press on the theme “For the Hoard”. Specifically, they were looking for LGBTQIA stories about dragons. This was everything I’d ever hoped to be able to get published! I started brainstorming about what sort of story I wanted to tell and remembered a dragon and a knight character I’d written a short fairy tale about in Dutch. I asked myself what sort of story I would love to read most at that moment. And I realised that what I wanted—what I felt the world needed—would be a light-hearted, traditional-style fairy tale with a message of acceptance that could be enjoyed by both younger and older readers.
At that point, I hadn’t encountered many aromantic, asexual, or transgender characters outside of fanfiction. But I did read real people’s stories on platforms like Tumblr and in their own blogs and short stories. I had started to realise that it didn’t make any sense how little representation there was of them, of us, compared to how many of us there are in real life. Why were so many of us feeling alone? How could we almost believe that something might be wrong with us while our actual numbers show that what we are feeling is completely normal? Realising the importance of representation was a huge motivator to start writing faster, and to finish the story before the deadline. And I didn’t write it perfectly. I made mistakes, which was honestly to be expected, because I was writing about subjects I was still learning about and about aspects of my own identity that I still hadn’t fully explored. This became clear after the publication of the 2018 edition of The Dragon of Ynys, and was the reason why the book went through a long process of revisions before it was published again in September 2020. I’m very grateful that I got this chance to learn and to improve the story. It helped me to figure out my own gender identity and was even therapeutic in the sense that thinking about why I’d phrased certain things in a less than ideal way made me realise why I had been reluctant to accept myself fully.
I guess it’s really fair to say then that my inspiration was to write the story that I needed myself.
What age group is the audience for your book?
The Dragon of Ynys is suitable for all ages. Like the fairy tales of old, I love the image of entire families (definitely including chosen families!) sitting around the fire and telling one another stories like this one. I think it’s important at any age to encounter characters that are like us—or perhaps not like us at all. After all, you don’t have to be queer in order to read about LGBTQIA+ characters. It can be helpful to hear another perspective than the one we are used to reading. Either way, I don’t think anyone is ever too old to hear that the best thing they can be is themselves. And as for the youngest readers, there is no explicit content in the story, and I think they will like Snap (the dragon) and his infallible logic.
I also wrote an essay on why the label “all ages” is important to me for LGBTQ Reads, which you can read here.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I remember a moment when I was six where I decided I was going to write a book. I’d written a small fairy tale before, and I’d been found telling my own stories while holding an actual book of fairy tales, but that was the point where I knew I was going to write a novel.
It was about a bear—because there were bears on the cover of the lined notebook—who was adopted because he was sick too often for the biological parents to take care of him (quite grim for a six-year-old), but as he grew up, he found a home with a pirate with whom he was going to have adventures.
I never found out what happened next because, at the time, that was as far as my focus for this whole book project reached.
I think my next book attempt happened when I was nine, and I kept writing on and off through the years. I always loved it, but that didn’t mean I wrote every day or in some periods even every year. So… I think the answer is that in my mind, I’ve been a writer since I could write. I only learned about craft and storytelling rules and actually finishing stories much later, but I was writing. That counts.
Cerridwen (she/xe) is a genderqueer aromantic asexual writer and
pharmacist from Belgium. She enjoys baking, drawing and
2013 she has been writing for Paranatellonta, a project combining
photography and flash fiction (https://paranatellonta.tumblr.com/).
Her first published work was the queer fairy tale 'Match Sticks' in
anthology (2016). Her short stories have also appeared in Atthis Arts
Minutes at Hotel Stormcove
(2019) and Community
of Magic Pens