Coffee chat with Deryn Pittar, author of Lutapolii, a delightful YA book about dragons

DL: Firstly, since this is a coffee chat, how do you take your coffee (or not as has been the case), and what is your favourite time of the day to partake?

DERYN: Hi Debbie, Thank you for this opportunity to talk to you. As to coffee? I love a long black, with water on the side. Must have sugar! And, always before midday – otherwise I stay awake at night -  plotting novels, which isn’t a bad thing but can be exhausting.

DL: You write in a mix of genres - fantasy, romance, cozy mystery, Young Adult, Sci-Fi and short stories. Can you tell us why you choose to write across all genres, as opposed to sticking to one genre or as opposed to creating pseudonyms for your different styles?

DERYN: I often get an idea and chase it down the rabbit hole. Sometimes it’s a short story and sometimes a short story turns into a novel later on. Often I am inspired by a premise set for a contest and will write to the prescribed rules. If the premise says ‘creature’ I need to create one. If it says ‘contemporary romance’ I have to oblige. It’s a great way to extend my imagination and discipline my brain, which is inclined to flit and skitter about. However, if there isn’t a set premise I usually revert to, which allows me heaps of freedom without the restrictions of historical correctness.

As to choosing different pseudonyms for different styles: what a nightmare! I actually did that to begin with but have gradually republished and stopped using my pseudonym (Virginnia De Parte). Although Virginnia has a Facebook page and even a blog I found it all became too confusing and a real hassle. I still have to use her sometimes but only for one genre, which shall remain nameless!

DL: You live in New Zealand. I had my honeymoon there and it is an amazingly beautiful place. Can you tell us, are there any myths about New Zealand - aside from Hobbits - that you'd like to set straight?

DERYN: In New Zealand we have Taniwha. (pronounced tanny-far). These are mythical creatures from Maori legends and reside in and near water. There are many pictures of them – all different – and for my Young Adult novel called “A Taste of Gold” I created two Taniwha. Lots of fun and they weave through the story and are most important to the plot.

I’ve never seen a hobbit but we have their village, Hobbiton, which is now a major tourist attraction.

DL: I love the story behind your latest YA book "Lutapoli: White Dragon of the South". How did writing a book for teens differ from writing for adults?

DERYN:  I love Lutapolii too. He is a magical fellow who began life as a short story challenge. (Small dragon flys south. Is caught by winter. Will he survive, if so, how?) After the first chapter I simply had to carry on. I didn’t write specifically for YA’s but as it’s about dragons it seems to fit into that category. Lots of adults have read and enjoyed his story too.

The only difference I ever make when writing for YAs is to leave out graphic sex scenes. Other than that I write as I would for an adult readership. YA’s are adults without the wisdom of years to colour their opinions. As to the mating scene in ‘Lutapolii –White Dragon of the South’,  it is a lot of smoke, noise and frightened sea birds! The rest is up to the reader’s imagination as I have no idea how dragons mate. Does anyone?

DL: And lastly, are you a biscuit or cake kind of person? And what is your favourite biscuit/cake?

DERYN: I’m a biscuit lady. I like the crunch and snap of a biscuit. My favourite biscuit would be a peanut brownie – nice and crisp with lots of peanuts, not to be confused with a chocolate brownie which has become a cake-like square. 

About the book:
Dragons can't swim and they can't catch seals -but Lutapolii can. 
Lutapolii, a puny white dragon, escapes to the south to avoid his mother’s mocking words. He learns to dive, swim and catch seals but winter creeps up on him and he finds himself stranded. With luck on his side he manages to survive, and returns home in the spring, stronger, taller and very handsome – for a dragon.
After discovering he has been declared dead by the dragon queen, Lutapolii considers this absolves him of all loyalty and decides to establish a flight of his own in the southern seas. All he needs is a handful of lady dragons. Can he steal them from the queen's flight? He's matured over the winter and totally magnificent, so why not take the risk? With a bit of luck the queen won't miss them, until it's too late.
Revenge and greed, love and loyalty, this story has them all.
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