Art & Design


The Dragon and the Crow

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Writing a novel is no easy feat. Getting one published even less so. For Melbourne writer Travis McKenzie, more than five years of solid work culminated when Perth-based Dragonfall Press offered him a deal for his first novel The Dragon and the Crow last year.  Now into its second printing, we speak to its author about his well-received fantasy debut.

‘It’s definitely a story about fathers and sons,’ says McKenzie, settled over a pint in the Brunswick Green. ‘It’s about growing up and getting your own identity that’s separate from your father’s.’

The Dragon and The Crow takes place in a world where magic is currency, a part of everyday life to be earned and spent (think buying petrol for your car). The protagonist, Brin, is a boy on the cusp of manhood and deeply troubled by his inability to grasp magic like the other boys and girls around him.

‘There’s a whole set-up about obviously the main character Brin and his desire to be a magic mender like his father. But it’s also about this king—this patron of the entire world—who’s got these sons and they have to live in his shadow as well. The conflict between the expectations of fathers and what their sons actually are.’

Part one of the planned Magickless trilogy, the next book will take aim at the other side of the parental coin. ‘It’s definitely about the influence of mothers, bringing femininity into it,’ says McKenzie.

It’s probably no coincidence that McKenzie is a high school Art and Media teacher. The avid science fiction and fantasy fan is also a gifted sculptor and puppet-maker, studying Creative Arts at Melbourne uni before teaching) has spent a lot of time surrounded by teens and the experience hasn’t been wasted in his writing.

The Dragon and the Crow works, for all its finely crafted mythology, because the kids feel real and so do their concerns. It takes strong archetypal themes and gives them unique character. Where so many writers of genre fiction get bogged down in pedantic detail, McKenzie is more concerned with good old-fashioned story telling.

Will The Dragon and the Crow appeal to those not of  ‘magic and elves’ appetites? Who cares. If you like your novels fantastical, Travis McKenzie’s fine debut is well worth a look.

Travis will be signing books at Notions Unlimited Bookshop in Chelsea from 4pm to 530pm Saturday 5 May.

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