Alex Gilvarry How did you go from writing Dear Mr. President, a book of short stories about war veterans, to Gork, the Teenage Dragon, a coming of age love story about a dragon who attends a military academy in outer space?
Gabe Hudson There’s a tiny shelf of mind-bending writers that I feel a connection with, including Franz Kafka, Lewis Carroll, Philip K. Dick, Douglas Adams, and Kurt Vonnegut. Their weird imaginative prowess and potent truth-telling feel like they came at great risk to their psychic well-being. For a long time now I’ve felt a calling to produce work in that mode. And I very deliberately set out to do that with Gork.
AG So why a dragon? And why a dragon in outer space?
GH I’m drawn to monster myths and my writing is a way to unearth the humanity therein. I’d say that both dragons and Marines have reputations imbued with monster mythology. In the case of the Marines, it’s self-perpetuated, part of the culture. When I was in the Marines, we called ourselves devil-dogs and sang old songs filled with battlefield lore.
In the Western narrative tradition, I’ve long felt there was an accepted bigotry toward dragons. Dragons either play the role of monsters or servant-buddies where they fly around with some dumb human on their back. It’s been the great narrative pile-on. Even all these schmucks talking about how they loved Dungeons & Dragons as kids and how it taught them to “imagine,” were playing a game where dragons literally cannot be a “player character.” What they’re saying is they learned how to band together as a group and decree that this entity who looks different than they do can only be a monster – the killing of which is something to be celebrated. From Gary Gygax, the creator of that game, to J.R.R. Tolkien, there’s this procession of white guys who’ve made a fortune from composing narratives where the red dragon is portrayed as some sort of depraved savage.
So I thought: considering the thousands of dragons that have appeared in western narratives, why has there never once been a tale told from the dragon’s perspective? For one very clear reason: a paucity of empathy. With Gork, I wanted to flip the script. Let the dragons tell their side of the story for once. And lo, it turns out dragons are a great deal more complex and evolved than anyone would’ve ever imagined.
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