THE STORY

 

"When I write, I don't just write. I research, sketch from life, sketch from my own photos, gather historical photos from other creative artists. In ten years, I now have several volumes of drafts, tear sheets, character profiles, scrapbooks, and sketchbooks. Sometimes I think like a writer, sometimes a costumer, sometimes a model-builder." 
- Breton W Kaiser Taylor

The book takes place in Brittany, France, which is Breton's namesake. The place names are real or imagined. The birdlife in the story is based upon the migratory birds that can be seen near Brittany's shores. The plants are based upon the herbs and flowers popular in the Medieval Era, and the author/artist's photos taken at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens, S.F.

The name Emerhill, meaning wise hill, came to him after thinking of his Irish ancestry, and "the Emerald Isle." Breton started thinking about re-shaping the book as part of a trilogy, and is currently working on a sequel. 

"My process is complex, I guess. I channel ideas as they come to me. And I constantly reach out for them, too. I went to Paris, and I was particularly inspired by the Cluny Museum, with its stained glass windows, Medieval statuary, and unicorn tapestries. It inspired the setting, which I based upon photos I took there, along with the photos I took of Versailles. I was awe struck by how beautiful it was. I also thought the place had powerful ghosts."
- Breton W Kaiser Taylor

"The setting was inspired by research on Wikipedia, and other resources. Brittany is located below Normandy, France on a map, I envisioned the small kingdom of Emerhill located along the coast, south of the Bay of Dournenez. I found out about different archipelagos (groupings of islands) nearby, and read about the Spanish Island of Dragonera, Majorca, so-named for its dragon-like silhouette. It is the same island upon which J.M. Barrie based his novel, PETER PAN. I did not know this when I was first inspired, but the fairies in EMERHILL existed in about 1200 A.D., the dragons maybe earlier." 
- Breton W Kaiser Taylor

Kaiser Taylor was inspired by surnames from around the world. He was interested in creating a book that was an inclusive and modern story, yet also a fairy tale. He took a class in Children's Literature. He studied Wilhelm Grimm's versions of fairy tales, along with those of Charles Perrault, Lewis Carroll, and Hans Christian Anderson. 

"I wanted to address the modern parent and child. Cinderella might want more from life, now. Noreia began as a misfit, a disgruntled daughter. She grew into much more, standing up for herself. I started writing what is now the second book in the series, and the first book is really Noreia's story." 
 - Breton W Kaiser Taylor

Some parents may not like the way that Noreia challenges her father. However, EMERHILL is a fairy tale. It's a part of her nature to act first, think later. Alice often challenges the characters she meets in Lewis Carroll's novel, Alice in Wonderland, Alice asks questions first, and then experiments. In L. Frank Baum's THE WIZARD OF OZ, Dorothy always stands up for anyone who is being mistreated. Her friends need her help. The dragon in the story is Dormach. He is a compassionate dragon, son of a strong and wise dragon named Stalwart. Noreia befriends him in order to help him.

 

THE CHARACTERS

 

"The characters drove this novel. I wrote many outlines, but I did so in order to help my characters decide where they wanted to go. I actually used the names I found to build my characters from. Each character was created with a personality to match the name, along with a familiar archetype."
- Breton W Kaiser Taylor

The author was inspired by the names of historical figures, ancient names, as well as mythical names from around the world. The author enmeshed various cultures together in the Prologue myth, referring to both the passing down of legends, and the desire to reflect a thriving global culture. Some of the names were created by the author, such as "Fogspell" (the name of the General of the Dragon Guard). Some names like "Noreia"(named for a Gaulish goddess of the moon) came from Celtic mythology. Gwenaelle is not a typical grandmother. She's an Earth Mother, and a spirit guide. Noreia is many faceted, like the phases of the moon. Her future is mysterious and intriguing.

 

THE ILLUSTRATIONS

 

The Dragon of Emerhill is an illustrated novel. He wanted the illustrations to be a place for reflection on the text, a pause. He used pen and India ink to create ink drawings, and watercolor for the paintings. They are incidental, like a book a grandparent might have read to you once. 

 
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"I worked with modeling clay and cardboard to create the rough, rounded sandcastle of Lismoire. I built a castle from inside-out cereal boxes for Emerhill Castle. My parents' garden influenced the flora and fauna, along with my own photos of side-of-the road landscaping, The SF Botanical Gardens, and my own still-lifes. I have researched birds and their whereabouts on the globe. I am interested in using the right plants to evoke the feeling and look of each location in the book. Emerhill is based on European plants, whereas Dragonera is based upon a combination of exotic flowers and Jurassic Era plants. I went to the Cloisters Museum, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum in Brooklyn to see their garden, and the beautiful chiseled architecture people lived in during the Middle Ages. The stained glass, tapestries, and mythological friezes were inspirational to me. The medicinal plants that Noreia's grandmother mentions are inspired by this trip with my parents and godparents."

 
 

I worked with modeling clay and cardboard to create the rough, rounded sandcastle of Lismoire. I built a castle from inside-out cereal boxes for Emerhill Castle.

 
 

For the figures, I use wooden artist's models to draw from. I also attended classes where I drew sketches from life models. I do my own drapery studies in my studio, and get inspiration from Medieval paintings and tapestries.