Whether you’re a devout follower of the Mother of Dragons, a wannabe medieval knight or simply a Charmander fan, there’s no denying that dragons have made quite the impact on us all, especially now, as the fantasy genre continues to grow stronger and more popular. Today, C. Sharp, author of The Elementalists, a new YA contemporary fantasy tale, discusses society’s love for these fire-breathing creatures. Take a look:
What is it about them that make us, young and old alike, fascinated with the concept, form and imagining of dragons? Legends of dragon-like creatures have existed in almost every culture across the globe for thousands of years, likely carried down via prehistoric oral tradition prior to that. They touch upon something at the core of our human psyche — equally as fascinating/terrifying/alluring to my five-year-old daughter as they are to me. They are the elements personified, apex predators, as well as the physical embodiment of magic, wisdom and the unification of all animals in one perfected shape.
Dragons have been the stuff of dreams and nightmares for as long as humans have existed. The ancient Chinese held them in reverence at the pinnacle of the zodiac, as the keepers of knowledge, luck and even the teachers of our human language. The early Greek, Vedic, Jewish, Persian and Germanic peoples told tales of such monsters battling for supremacy with the gods. The old European mapmakers would use their monstrous visages to mark the unknown territories of seafaring charts. Dragons have always been the guardians of the liminal places in our world — the crossroads, the shadows, the deepest wilderness or darkest caves — just as they now so rightly guard the fog-covered bridge between youth and adulthood today.
YA literature is the natural realm of these timeless beasts. Dragons are the gatekeepers to the future, as they’ve always been. When we are young, we believe in magic and endless possibility for our world and ourselves, but as we become adults we’re taught of more concrete things — responsibility, personal achievement, the competition for money, fame, love and security. Dragons are there at the in-between; the bridge we cross can lead anywhere, depending on how we face the guardian at the threshold.
Most will turn away or run ahead in fear, forget about the magic of youth and the infinite choices in our personal fantasies. For many, the dragon is destruction and failure, temptation and regret, but the image of the beast always remains, looming, waiting to remind us of what we’ve lost or are too afraid to acknowledge. Those unmarked paths we glimpsed as kids, and dared not go down, are still there, guarded and waiting for us to be brave. The hidden magic is just as real now as it was when we were five, the dreams of our younger selves just as relevant in our quest for a better life as money and met goals. The dragons we’ve let hold us back are there to give us the wisdom we’ve long sought, if we only let them be our teachers.
Why are dragons so prevalent in the literature of the young? Because whoever you are, and wherever you’re from, for thousands of years and thousands to come, dragons have always been there with you guarding or guiding to the places that you have wanted but feared to go — and you have always been the dragon.
— C. Sharp
The Elementalists is available now, so be sure to grab and download your copy from your favorite retailer. For more YA books and authors, visit our Everything YA page.