QSFer Ash Roberts has a new queer YA fantasy out (bi, lesbian): “Royal Dragon.”
Kalia’s life is all mapped out for her – she is heir to the elven homeland and marriage to a Duke’s son had been arranged before she was old enough to walk. For her, the war in the north is far away and all she knows of it is stories about the fearless Dragoneers. Her life is safe. Idyllic. Until she accidentally bonds with the blue dragon, Farean.
Kalia is banished from her homeland and her engagement is broken – the nobility will have nothing to do with dragon riders. And the Dragoneers don’t exactly welcome the former princess with open arms. To gain the respect of these warriors, she must enter the Great Dragon Race and demonstrate her skills. But she’s still a novice, it’s as unlikely as flying without a dragon.
The war against the Goblins suddenly close to home, Kalia must find her place in a world very different from the one she knew. A world of fighting and fear – and a place where lovers are chosen rather than assigned. As the challenges mount, she discovers that she’s not the person she thought she was. And that may be a good thing.
“You are the princess of Darneta, the greatest of the Seven Kingdoms,” he said. “You have a duty to your people to be present for important events. You don’t have to like it. Now, sit and watch these eggs until something happens. And when they hatch, you will cheer and look happy.”
He turned back around in his seat, facing the dais with its egg. Mother passed me a cloth, and I dabbed my eyes, careful not to smear the little bit of makeup I’d been allowed to wear. I glanced around. The guards stood stoic as ever, but the servants were doing their best not to look in my direction. A few rows ahead of us, I caught Etlin’s eyes. He looked away quickly, pretending to be intensely interested in the egg as it sat on the heated rocks.
I took a breath, looking at it myself. I could do this. After all, it was just an egg. An egg couldn’t kill. That came later. When it hatched. But for now, it was just an egg, like the chicken eggs I ate for breakfast, only larger.
I studied it. It stood three feet high and could have been a rock if not for the perfect ovoid shape of it. Once, dragons had hatched in the wild, and the mother’s had arranged their eggs to look like natural formations to protect from predators. I couldn’t image what predators a dragon could have.
The egg wobbled.
I sucked in my breath. It wouldn’t be just an egg much longer.
It wobbled again, and a crack formed near the top.
I tried not to panic, gripping my seat with both hands to keep myself from jumping up and running out.
Silence fell over the crowd as we watched the egg fracture.
The potential Dragoneers scrambled for position, the older teens pushing to get in front while some of the younger contestants sought shelter behind their larger competitors. Save for the Dwarves, who abhorred the very thought of flight, every kingdom race was represented on the hatching floor. A werewolf and a vampire shoved each other, nearly breaking into a fight.
Then, a tapping sound froze everyone, and a blue beak thrust through a crack in the shell. Tiny silver talons poked out next, pushing the opening wider. Finally, the egg split open in fractured pieces, and an infant dragon spilled from it.
It pushed up on its wing claws and craned its head, looking around and screeching like one of Father’s racing hawks, except louder. It stood about five feet tall, and light filtered through the translucent wings to cast a blue pall over the nearby contestants. As it swung its head this way and that, crying for its mother, I got a good look at its odd-shaped skull.
“What’s wrong with it?” I blurted.
The entire audience turned at my outburst and stared. I felt my ears growing red. But there was something obviously wrong with the dragon. Usually, the monsters had large, pointy, Elf-like ears. They didn’t have stubby little flaps.
The dignitaries and hopefuls weren’t the only one whose attention I had caught.
The baby dragon turned its head and looked at me, its eyes seeming to pierce my soul and examine the very heart of me.
She. I heard a voice whisper behind me.
Ash Roberts is a transgender author who writes books about dragons, and those who ride them. She has loved dragons ever since a family friend lent a precocious fourteen year-old her copy of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight. She was hooked.
She credits Rick Riordan with saving her life because of a trans character he wrote. To pay it forward, she now rights books with plenty of LGBTQIA+ characters so that queer kids can see themselves in stories and not feel so alone.
When not writing, she spends her time in Northern Colorado with her wife and their family, including 2 3/4 cats.