Reality Skimming

Continuing Characters #7: Vern

Author Karina Fabian returns for our first Continuing Character interview with a dragon.

Continuing Characters: A series of interviews featuring continuing characters and the authors who know them best.

Magic, Mensa and Mayhem Live and Let Fly

For a dragon detective with a magic-slinging nun as a partner, saving the worlds gets routine. So, when the US government hires Vern and Sister Grace to recover stolen secrets for creating a new Interdimensional Gap--secrets the US would like to keep to itself, thank you—Vern sees a chance to play Dragon-Oh-Seven.

It's super-spy spoofing at its best with exotic locations (Idaho--exotic?), maniacal middle-managers, secret agent men, teen rock stars in trouble, man-eating animatronics, evil overlords and more!

The DragonEye, PI series by Karina Fabian begins with Magic, Mensa and Mayhem and continues April 20, 2012 with Live and Let Fly.


Vern is a private investigator with the Dragon Eye Private Investigations Agency, where he works with his partner Sister Grace. The part where it gets interesting? He's a dragon, and she's a nun/mage from the Faerie Catholic Church. What kind of work to do they do? In Vern's own words: "We'll handle just about any case that pays and, being a dragon, I'm not particular about how I get paid. Cash or carrion, I'm your dragon. We do everything from find lost pets to save the universe--sometimes at the same time. Hey, I'm a dragon. I can multi-task."

Questions for Vern

Q. What made you want to become a private investigator, and is this your first profession?

I almost laughed at this question, because as an immortal being forged in the beginning of time, I’ve done a lot. “Profession,” however, made me stop and think. I’m not sure cruising the skies for cattle, snacking on annoying knights, or trading the spare scale to some apothecary that amuses me counts for a profession. Eight and a half centuries ago, I was “drafted” into service of the Faerie Church, and I’ve done some interesting things, from bodyguard to scribe—I’ve got great penmanship as long as I have an inkwell and a sharp pinkie claw—to agent of the Inquisition. Still, in all those cases, I did what I was told and got my rewards from God and whatever the Church doled out in food and shelter; so, not a profession really.

I didn’t exactly choose the private investigation profession so much as happen into it. I’d come to the Mundane world from Faerie--not sure why, it was a “Calling”-thing—and got caught up in a mystery that baffled the local sheriff. He had every right to be baffled; what Mundane lawman suspects chili pepper vines to turn into murderers—outside of the movie theater, that is? Magic was still new to the Mundane, back then, and obviously, the world needed someone who was an expert—and brilliant, quick to learn new things, strong, with good instincts… I fit the bill, so I hung up a shingle and spent a lot of time cold and hungry because no one wanted to hire a dragon.

That was over a decade ago—a blink of an eye to a dragon. Now, my partner, Sister Grace, and I get a steady share of cases where magic and technology have mixed badly. We still do our share of finding lost kittens. (I never get asked to find lost lambs; it’s always cats.) However, we also handle some major baddies. We’ve saved the Mundane and Faerie worlds so many times, we have a code for it—STUC. (Save The Universes Case). I try to charge extra when I can, but do you know how hard that is to get past a nun? It’s not like I can hold out saving the world until I get a raise.

Still, it’s interesting work, and if you disregard the danger, broken bones, gunshot wounds and other physical annoyances, it’s a pretty good way to spend a few centuries.

Q. How do you get on with humans, and do you ever find it's difficult being a dragon in your profession?

It would be a lot easier if the government would consider me a person. Until Grace joined me, I did everything under the table, with the police force turning a blind eye. Grace holds the PI license that makes us legit, even if we have to pay taxes. It’s humiliating to think that Coyote the Trickster has a Green Card but I don’t qualify. (I just take comfort that he’s still on parole in the reservation, and I put him there. Grin.)

I get along fine with humans from Faerie. They understand about dragons and give us proper respect. (Or most do, and I just eat the rest.) In the Mundane, things are different. Took years to convince the populace of Los Lagos that I did not need a leash and asking me if I was “housebroken” was insulting. Oh, and let’s not discuss the time in Florida when I got mistaken for an animatronic kiddie ride. People as a group are ignorant, but individual persons are all right. I have a lot of good friends in the Mundane.

Karina Fabian Karina Fabian breathes fire, battles zombies with chainsaws and window cleaner, travels to the edge of the solar system to recover alien artifacts, and had been driven insane by psychic abilities. It’s what makes being an author such fun. She won the 2010 INDIE Award for best fantasy for Magic, Mensa and Mayhem (her first DragonEye, PI novel) and the Global E-Book Award for best horror for Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator. She’s an active member of Broad Universe and the Catholic Writers’ Guild, and teaches writing and marketing online. When not writing, she enjoys her family and swings a sword around in haidong gumbdo.

Questions for Karina

Q. The DragonEye Universe started out as a short story. What sparked the idea of a dragon and a nun as a private investigation team?

Vern came about because I needed a different angle on dragons and got inspired by a comedy routine in the show Whose Line Is It, Anyway? Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles were doing a noir skit about a parrot, I think, and I was laughing and thinking, “I could do this—with a dragon!” Vern was born. I followed the noir motif of giving him a jaded past, and what could make a dragon more jaded than having to work for St. George (and by expansion, the Faerie Church and God) to get his dragon glory back?

Vern was rough, very cynical, and not good with people, so he needed a soothing influence. Enter Sister Grace from the Order of Our Lady of the Miracles. She’s a high powered mage in the Faerie Catholic Church and has a tortured past of her own; and in fact, was in the US for psychiatric treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, which they don’t have a lot of experience with in Faerie. She needed someone who could protect her, comfort her, and push her to use her magic again. Vern fit the bill nicely. They have great respect and admiration for each other. You’ll notice, for example, in the books that Vern always puts himself first, even when saying, “I and” another person. Other than the saints, Sister Grace is the only person he makes an exception for.

Q. Vern has a very distinct voice. What do you enjoy about writing from his point of view?

I can let loose, be snarky, make sarcastic jokes and puns. (I looked at the henchman under my claws and drooled. “Phil A. Minion. Can I have fries with that?” I live for these moments. I really do.) It’s a lot of fun to look at the world from the point of view of a predator who believes himself superior to everyone—even the ancient gods and goddesses.

Vern’s easy to write. I scared a friend once by saying I “channel” him, but in truth, his voice and attitude do take over. It’s hard to write Vern when others are around, because I feel my face twist into a kind of half grin, half sneer, and my eyes narrow. (When I’m not chortling at something he said.) I probably look odd at best, schitzo at worse, but that’s okay because the books are such fun, and his voice makes it that way.

For the next book, Gapman, I’m alternating between Vern’s POV and that of his apprentice, the superhero Gapman. It’s a great juxtaposition, because Gapman, aka Ronnie Engleson, is so sweet and naïve and bumbling until Grace makes Vern take him under his wing, so to speak. Vern doesn’t want to deal with a superpowered babe-in-the-woods, but if he has to, he’s going to have some fun…at Ronnie’s expense. (“Consider it ‘tough love,’ if it makes you feel better, Ronnie.” “(Groan) That’s what Mom always says.”)

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