Maria Grace - Tatzlewurms, Wyverns, and Darcy

Maria Grace - Tatzlewurms, Wyverns, and Darcy
Maria Grace

Six-time BRAG Medallion Honoree, #1 Best-selling Historical Fantasy author Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16-year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences. She pretends to be a mild-mannered writer/cat-lady, but most of her vacations require helmets and waivers or historical costumes, usually not at the same time. She writes gas lamp fantasy, historical romance and non-fiction to help justify her research addiction.  As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about her book, Pemberley: Mr Darcy's Dragon.

Please give us a short introduction to what Pemberley: Mr. Darcy's Dragon is about.

Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon answers the question: What if there were dragons in Jane Austen’s regency era world? Because, of course, there were dragons!

What inspired you to write this series? Was there anything in particular that made you want to tackle this?

I blame my (now adult) sons for this project. We were sitting around our local pizza buffet tossing crazy ideas about and one of them asked “What if there were dragons?” At that point, we all agreed, there were definitely dragons in Regency England, in hiding from all but a select, special few. Upon this realization, how could I not write about them?

Where does your fascination with Dragons come from?

Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern, a fantasy classic that I love to this day, was my gateway into dragons. She created an immersive world where dragons absolutely made sense and the reader just wants to become part of that world.


Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?

According to my family, my hidden superpower is being able to find things. Seriously, they come to me when they’ve really lost things and I find them—like the uber important file folder that slipped behind the drawer and got stuck underneath the drawer in the file cabinet. When they need to find slippery info online, they are convinced I’m the search-term whisperer and conjure information they couldn’t find. At the store I can usually go right to where the stuff I want is.

Yes, it is a weird superpower, but it’s my superpower, and I’m going to use it! (yes, Galaxy Quest fans, you heard that in Sigourney Weaver’s voice. )

Unfortunately, spelling and proof reading are not among my superpowers.

Interesting cover.  Please tell us more about how it came about.

Oh the cover! There’s a bit of a story there.

The cover you see now is actually the third one to grace this book. The first one was designed by an artist who did some of my Regency romance covers. I wasn’t sure what the book really needed, and she did her best—no shade thrown!—but it just did not work.

How bad was it? A fellow author’s artist daughter hated it so much she designed one of her own and sent it to me! What a huge improvement! That became the second cover the first six books of the series wore it and its siblings for several years.

When I hit book seven, on a whim I tried a ‘cover tweak ‘ service that a different cover artist offered, to see if that could improve the covers even more. Boy, did it ever! That artist took the basic concept of the second gen covers and dialed it up to the clean, bright, catchy ones that adorn the series now. I absolutely love them.

Why did you decide to start the series with a twist on Pride and Prejudice?

I was writing riffs on Jane Austen’s works at the time, so it seemed a natural place to start. I actually thought it would only be a three-book series, covering the arc of Pride and Prejudice. The dragons had other things in mind.

What did you have the most fun with when writing this book?

Hands down, it was and still is the world building. Despite it being a fantasy, a tremendous amount of research goes into building this world. What sorts of research?

On the one hand, I’ve researched a lot of European dragon mythology to create the multiple dragon species that inhabit the world. Most of them, including the tatzelwurm cat-dragons are based in established mythologies. Several of the characters and plot lines are anchored in old dragon myths. I love to use those old stories as a jumping off point.

Since the series is set in 1810s era England, there is a lot of period research that I indulge in as well. I’ve found that it helps the reader suspend disbelief about the dragons if the rest of the setting feels very well-grounded in the historical period.

Blending those two elements is a creative treat.

As the first book of a series, can this be read as a standalone? How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?

The first book does not end in a cliff hanger, but it leads into the next one. The first three cover the complete Pride and Prejudice story arc. Books five and six tackle my favorite Austen work, Persuasion—which I have been told makes a great deal of sense with dragons! After that, the characters just kept demanding more creative freedoms, and now I’m just along to chronicle their adventures. Dragons have this propensity for getting themselves into trouble!

Tell us more about Miss Elizabeth Bennet.  What makes her special?

The heroine of the series is Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Her character is actually based on an old English myth of the Mordiford Dragon. (You can read about that here:…) The myth tells the story of a young girl with a very special friendship with a dragon.

Granted, that story ends rather badly for the dragon—and the villagers it ate. So, I did not follow that story precisely. I did, though, create a character with a rare and special affinity and understanding for dragons. It is that special gift that makes her unique, and also gets her into trouble. She gets dragons, but people—not so much. And since she prefers dragon company, she has some habits and manners that aren’t exactly appropriate for a young woman of the era, also adding to the fun.

Do any of your characters ever take off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?


I got lulled into a false sense of security in the first book of the series, thinking that they could politely follow an outline and stay within those lines. But I was deceived! My character’s lied to me. Since that point they have been plunging on ahead of me, getting into unapproved mischief and expecting me to follow along, pen in hand, reporting their adventures and keeping my stinking outline to myself.

Should have expect that—dragons aren’t precisely tame party guests.

When starting on a new book, what is the first thing you do?

Mostly I get quiet and try to listen to the characters in my head and let them tell me where they are going. That often involves long walks, hashing things out in my head, or with my hubby who is a great thought partner. He has some of the very best ideas!

Then I’ll write myself notes and try to identify the core 3-4 plot points so I have a sense of where the story is going. At that point I usually start writing the tale, knowing full well it’s going to get off the rails as soon as it possibly can.


Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?

I’m usually making the 30 second commute across the house to my office by 7:30 weekday mornings. I’ll stop in the kitchen for morning chores and to feed the four footed ‘staff’. Wearing my morning ‘uniform’ of my fuzzy pink bathrobe, I check in with my morning writing group at our virtual watercooler and go through emails and other urgent business.

After I there’s enough caffeine in my system that I can reliably button a row of buttons properly, I don moderately grown-up clothes and settle into getting words on the page. My daily goal is 2000-3000 words a day when I’m in writing mode. Editing and proofing days are a little different, but I’m generally at the computer until 4 or 5 pm.

What are you working on right now?

As usual, I’m working on multiple different projects. I’m in the planning stages of the next dragon book, with several more vying for my attention at the same time. I’m wrapping up the writing on the first book of an entirely new Gaslamp fantasy series—no dragons in this one, but lots of great fantasy nonetheless. And I’ve got two non-fiction history-based projects mostly researched and half written at this point. Then there’s the blog where I share Random Bits of Fascination, including tidbits from my research, writing updates, my four-footed staff, and whatever else seems fascinating to me—still going strong since 2012—but it needs new material weekly, so I have to keep feeding it words!

Dragon Group Cover

Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?

Readers can always find and reach out to me at, my website.

On Facebook, I can be found at On Amazon, all my 30+ titles can be found at