Dragons take flight in debut novel by 11-year-old author

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In A Dragon’s Tale, Shore is a hybrid dragon threatened by Chief Inferno, the chief of the FlameTail clan.

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In A Dragon’s Tale, Shore is a hybrid dragon threatened by Chief Inferno, the chief of the FlameTail clan. And if the name “Chief Inferno” isn’t enough to sell you, then maybe it will: the author of the new novel is 11-year-old Vancouverite Bookey McCormack. We told the grade 6 student at Pacific Spirit School about his first publishing venture, but certainly not his last.

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Q: When did you start writing A Dragon’s Tale, and what inspired you?

A: Before COVID, my passion was making movies with my friends. But during my forties I couldn’t do that, so I thought, what is an individual activity that I can do that is also creative. At the same time, many children in my class were reading an amazing series called “Wings of Fire” by Tui T. Sutherland. I fell in love with it and started to love dragons. So I thought, what if I could write my own novel about dragons during the pandemic? And at the same time, I went with my mom to the Black Lives Matter demonstration after the very sad death of George Floyd. And I also read The Diary of Anne Frank and learned a lot about the Holocaust. I felt so sad about what was going on. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with those emotions, so I kind of incorporated these dark historical things into my book.

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Q: There is a surprising amount of deaths in the prologue and the first chapter. The stakes are high.

A: It should get a little less violent as the book goes on. I had to show how corrupt the world is at first.

Q: How did your process go?

A: I kind of wrote whenever I felt creative. My teacher in grade 5, when I was writing the novel, set aside time for me during the day to write, which was really nice of her. But whenever I had good ideas, I wrote them down in an outline. I made a lousy draft, which is a good thing. If you’re writing a novel, don’t try to perfect your first draft. Just write your sloppy story. Then you can go back and fix it. I wrote a first draft, proofread it, then hired an editor who had worked with my mother for many years. She edited it and we started with the development edit, which looks at the big picture – adding more action to that scene, and why this character disappears in the last 10 pages, which was a big party. And make history richer. And then I looked at that, then she did a line edit for typos and awkward sentences. Then my mom read it one more time, then my dad read it. Then, once the cover design and layout was complete, it was ready to go.

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Q: How are your classmates reacting?

A: One of my very good friends, Marley, kept asking me when my novel would be published. Finally, I brought my backpack to the classroom, and when we had an opening circle where we shared the highlights of our weekend, I pulled out my book and everyone started to applaud and applaud.

Q: You published the book yourself. Have you thought about looking for a publisher?

A: We wanted to publish it traditionally first. I spoke to an agent, but she was too busy. And she wrote me the nicest letter, to keep writing. I also wanted to get the book out before Christmas. When you traditionally publish a book, it takes longer. I figured if I could self-publish this book, I could get it out before Christmas. And if it sells, I can present it to a publisher.

Q: Are you going to go back to the movies or do you have the writing bug now?

A: I would love to do a second book because a lot of people have asked for a sequel. I completed A Dragon’s Tale in a way that I could continue the series or I could end it. You can tell people I’m in chapter two. I have finished the first chapter of the sequel.

A Dragon’s Tale by Bookey McCormack is available at amazon.ca.

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