Is that who I think it is?

Yes, Cressida Cowell, author and illustrator of How to Train Your Dragon books, lives locally. She wrote the first book in 1998 and now twelve books later the series is complete. The stories were inspired by childhood holidays with her father on a remote island in the Shetlands which were once inhabited by Vikings – “the kind of place where dragons really could have existed” she says. The series tells the tale of Hiccup, who starts out as a small boy and grows up throughout the series, and his dragon Toothless – “a small, disobedient Common-or-Garden dragon, who speaks to Hiccup in Dragonese (with a stammer).”

The books have been made into hugely successful films by Dreamworks. In the film version Toothless is “a large, frightening Night Fury, who cannot talk” but she says: “Both Toothlesses have a sweeter, gentler side to them than is at first apparent” and both Toothlesses were inspired by cats, in both look and in character”.

Her aim throughout the series is to answer the question “What if dragons really existed, and if they existed, what happened to them?” She spoke to Bridget Osborne, editor of The Chiswick Calendar, when she had just finished the last book in the series, How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury, which is about the ‘great war’ between humans and dragons. She appeared at the Chiswick Book Festival in 2016.

“What if dragons really existed, and if they existed, what happened to them?”

Cressida Cowell talks us through how she draws her characters

How to Train Your Dragon books

  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • How to Be a Pirate
  • How to Speak Dragonese
  • How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse
  • How to Twist a Dragon’s Tail
  • A Hero’s Guide to Deadly Dragons
  • How to Ride Dragon’s Storm
  • How to Break a Dragon’s Heart
  • How to Steal a Dragon’s Sword
  • How to Seize a Dragon’s Jewel
  • How to Betray a Dragon’s Hero
  • How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury

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