For about ten years, maybe twelve, I've been working on a sprawling fantasy that keeps growing like southern kudzu. No matter how much I chop, it still sprouts tendrils and vines and leaves. I can't walk away--though it does allow me to work on other stories, I am always pulled back to The Fantasy.
Might as well tell you its name: Dragon's Rook.
Yeah. There's the word "dragon" in the title. And I wasn't even going to write about dragons or any mythical critters. Then one day while I was innocently writing, sitting at my desk, minding my own business, one shouldered its way in and wouldn't leave.
Uninvited dragons are as hard to make leave one's home as, say, a bird that swoops inside when one opens the door (that happened to me), or a squirrel that wanders in through the chimney (that happened to a friend). It's a tricky business. Uninvited dragons are not afraid of sudden moves, loud noises, sharp objects, or flaming matches. Uninvited dragons lumber in, look around, turn a few times to make their nest, and then lay there, curving their long necks to look down at one: Make me.
So I allowed him to stay.
He didn't say much at first. In fact, he said nothing. In that sense, he made the perfect roomie. On the other hand, there were all those noxious fumes. (I'd open the windows, but then the neighbors complain.)
Then, while I was once again minding my own business, sending my characters on their way--some of whom were prisoners of other characters, and therefore had to go whichever way their captors went--the dragon spoke.
Turns out he has a beautiful voice for such a bad sort. He is intelligent and has a dark sense of humor. He doesn't take well to authority--go figure--and he could use some dental hygiene, but when he speaks he's the James Earl Jones of dragons.
He told me all about himself--his name, his history, what in the world he was doing in my house--and now his story is the backbone of mine. It makes sense. Because he is such a formidable antagonist, albeit a sympathetic one, the protagonists can become stronger, greater, more worthy of the tale.
And, for the sake of the story, I'll say nothing more.
Except this: I've noticed lately that the stray cat population in the neighborhood has decreased. When I mentioned as much to "James Earl Jones", he sucked on his teeth as if removing an obstruction and didn't say a word.