Fantasy writer seeks inspiration from Appalachian folklore PDF Print E-mail
Appalachian Culture - Appalachian Culture
Written by Jenna Tenaglio   
Thursday, 19 November 2009 16:29

imagesOn Thursday, November 12, Mountain City Traditional Arts in Frostburg hosted a book reading featuring author Andy Duncan, a fiction writer and faculty member of Frostburg State University’s English Department.  To a packed house, Duncan read excerpts from his recently published short story, “The Dragaman’s Bride” which was included an anthology of dragon stories aptly titled The Dragon Book: Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy.  The anthology includes work from various authors and is edited by Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann.  The Dragon Book is the sequel to the 2007 collection Wizards: Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy, which also featured a short story of Duncan’s,A Diorama of the Infernal Regions, or The Devil’s Ninth Question.”

When Duncan was approached by editor Gardner Dozois last year, he committed himself to The Dragon Book and decided to write an Appalachian dragon story.  Duncan had also used a bit of Appalachian literature as inspiration for his short story featured in Wizards--a well-known folk song, “The Devil’s Nine Questions.”  Duncan’s decision to use an Appalachian tale for ideas in the second anthology was influenced both by the fact that he had used a song from the region for Wizards and the fact that “The Dragaman’s Bride” followed the same protagonist, female wizard Pearleen Sunday through the mountains of Virginia.

“It was only after thinking about it did I remember this old Jack Tale,” said Duncan, speaking about the story he chose to use as a muse for his writing.  The author finally selected a Jack Tale that he had read in the past from a 1940s collection by Richard Chase.  Jack Tales refer to folk, prose tales passed down through oral tradition that originated in Europe.  The tales follow the quests of the young protagonist, Jack (called so because the name signifies a relation to the “every-man”) who is often a trickster, but always an unlikely hero.  When the Jack Tale tradition migrated to America from Europe with immigrants, Jack eventually became a farm-boy hero.  The particular tale Duncan chose to pull elements from was one that followed Jack and his brothers through an adventure to rescue three women from the underground lair of the Dragaman.

Although certain elements were extracted from the Jack Tale, such as the concept of a girl being held captive by the Dragaman as well as an invitation to dinner being extended to one party, “The Dragaman’s Bride” features an overall historical setting.  “A story about one thing isn’t as interesting as a story about a number of things intersecting,” said Duncan.  To intersect with the Appalachian dragaman story, Duncan chose to include a strange episode of sterilization that occurred in the Virginia Mountains during the era of the Depression.  The result of Duncan’s extensive creativity and research is the fantasy, adventure-packed story of “The Dragaman’s Bride.”

To read this wonderfully crafted literary production in its entirety, Wizards and The Dragon Book can be purchased at Main Street Books in Frostburg, Maryland.  Literary fans should also keep their eyes peeled for the release of a new work by Duncan, The Night Cache, set to be released in as a separate volume from P.S. Publishing in BritainThe Night Cache is a tale of adventure, lesbian romance, and treasure seeking and is the first of Duncan’s endeavors to be set in this area of Western Maryland.  The publication will be available in December.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 November 2009 22:33
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