Novels, Dragons, and Reading to Write: An Interview with Author Federico Ferrario

Join me as I talk with fantasy author Federico Ferrario about his current novel, The Dragon Seller, writing processes and inspiration.

Q: Tell me just a little bit more about you and your writing.

A: To me, writing is like running.

I know, it sounds odd.

When I was a teenager I did several tries to “write stuff,” short stories mostly. But I always had hard times to find the right pace. Usually, I rushed the story only to find, after a couple of days, that I was left without anything to say, or with no inspiration, and that was enough to kill the flow, for me.

Some people outline all the novel before writing it, some even the sequels(!!), and others write super fast [I mean more than 2k words each day] and then rewrite a lot. There is no right or wrong here. As long as it works for you, it’s fine. I know that for me, the right way is to think at the pace of my writing as if I was training for a marathon.

When I begin to write a novel, I don’t start fast; I don’t write 1k+ words right away. I take at least 2-3 weeks of low words count(200 words, ish), in which I give to my mind the time to explore the story and imagine “what’s next.”

And then, after some time, I find myself able to sustain more words each day, and this is when I stabilize my daily words count to 1.2k, 1.4k. Not more. And if I find myself in the middle of a scene or similar when I reach the limit, I stop anyway and I keep the rest for the next day. This way I will have already something to say when I resume.

Q: What inspired your novel, The Dragon Seller?

A: I don’t recall, actually. I remember I was looking for an idea for a novelette, no more than 30-40k words and the opening line of the book came into my mind: “I SAW MY FIRST DRAGON when I was ten, and I met Raleigh Thompson at thirty. Somebody, in the past, would have said it’s easier to find your soulmate than meet a legendary creature like a dragon, but believe me: true love is rare, dragons are not. I had twenty in my Flight Garden…”

That’s all I had. For two weeks I just explored this idea, but I didn’t write anything until I saw on a tv channel – by chance – The Hobbit part II, then the day after the movie “Reign of Fire,” and somebody made me read “Guards! Guards” by Terry Pratchett (in which there’s a big dragon too). At that point, i said to myself: “Ok, dude, gotta write that story about dragons.”

Q: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

A: That nothing, nothing! Goes as you planned. No matter what. I think in part it’s my writing style. I tend to not outline everything; I let my characters improvise as we proceed, just like a movie director trust his actors over the script. The script is there, of course, but sometimes new characters comes out of nowhere changing the story a little, or the MC does something I didn’t expect, but is perfect and logical and I can’t – argghh! – find anything better than his or her move.

Q: Which artists have been the most influential in your writing?

A: Hard to see from the inside. I’d say though that the best advice – I know it’s not influence, but still, for me it was important – is “First draft with the door closed” by King. That one is a novel-saver.

Q: What was the biggest struggle you faced while writing The Dragon Seller? How did you overcome that?

A: I really enjoyed writing the book…buuut, definitely the SWAT scene caused me some second thoughts and moral reservations. It was difficult to write it, but I had to write it (mind that I wrote the novel in 2014, from October to December, after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson)

Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

A: Ah, that’s not something you realize, at least for me. It’s a never-ending, self-convincing, quantum unstable process, that happens every time you like what you are writing, and you like writing it (till the next day, when you decide that your writing is garbage and you should do something serious with your life).


Q: What is your next project? How do you prepare for a new project?

A: My next project is a fantasy novel, I just passed the 50k words mark, but it will take another two months at least to complete the first draft. Usually, i get ready by writing down a lot of notes about places and characters, or by thinking about the general plot (what could be a good start of the novel, what is the conflict, the ending and such). And then I read a lot of stuff on the subject of the book. For instance, one of the chapters of The Dragon Seller – the one in which Jack and Raleigh visit the huge botanist dome, at the Boise University, filled with strange vegetables – well, that one was inspired by an article called “Growing the Great Pumpkin” on the New Yorker.

Since the interview is over, I want to thanks all the readers, and the commenters and most of all say thanks to you, Kelsey, for being so helpful and kind. You are the best!

Meet the Author: Federico Ferrario.

I am sci-fi and fantasy writer, on my debut novel with “The Dragon Sellers.”

I currently live in Milan, Italy, where I wrote three more novels and a book of poems, which still have to be translated into English.
I keep poetry in my heart and philosophy on my tongue (unfortunately, the brain is empty).

I love Jack Vance, Česlav Milosz, and I hate broccoli (so glad that I don’t like them, coz broccoli really sucks).
I am a star lover and a cosmist philosopher, the last of my kind.

Connect with Federico Ferrario:

If you want to learn more about my work, you’re welcome to visit my website

You can also connect with me on your favorite social media platform:

Don’t forget to check out The Dragon Seller!

imageAs the Drought of the Century hits the United States, legendary creatures appear on Earth: Dragons.

Like one of the famous commercials says: “Thanks to advancements in genetic engineering, Dragons are finally out of myth, and in your local pet stores!
From playful Outbacks to unpredictable jade Tangs, these little dragons usually don’t burn much, they love fruit and don’t molest young virgins.
But they are still monsters, and Jack Ports knows this very well.
He sells all kinds of varieties in his Flight Garden, including the most dangerous of all: the American Mustang, a species of battle dragon created by a failed experiment of the U.S. Navy.

Dumped by his fiancee before the wedding and short on cash, Jack just wants to put his life back together, but after a colleague mysteriously disappears, he finds himself with a dragon egg of unknown origins.
Set on raising it, Jack discovers that the egg contains a primus, the first dragon of a new species, whose genes hide a secret that many men are looking for.

And some are willing to kill to have it.

You can read a sample of The Dragon Seller HERE, or buy a COPY HERE.