Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don’t forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 

Author’s name: Gwen Dandridge
Title of book and/or series: The Dragons’ Chosen
Brief summary of the story:
The dragons came from beyond the Crystal Mountains, demanding a virgin sacrifice…and Princess Genevieve learns she’s it when she’s handed a golden token–the mark of the chosen. Genevieve accepts her fate. She must, in order to save her kingdom. But the journey to her final destiny is complicated by the arrival of Chris, a 1970s Berkeley co-ed. To Chris, the whole scenario reeks of deception. Where she comes from, corsets are for burning and virgins are hard to find. She’s sure the dragons are out for more than innocent blood, but the only way to find out what they really want is to accompany Genevieve on her journey. Not what she had planned for her freshman year of college. Genevieve is duty-bound–unless Chris is right. Then her sacrifice would mean nothing. Other than woe to those who duped her…
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
This story begins in the grassy hills and valleys of the medieval kingdom of Verdeux. Off to the west are the steep Fandrite mountains and within that–the Crystal caverns.

If we were to visit Verdeux as tourist, what would you recommend we see or do there?
It depends on your level of adventure. If you’re the adventurous type, head beyond the borders of Verdeux to the Crystal caves and explore the depths of these. There you can marvel at the curious rock formations that grow within. The Fens would also be interesting—if you have a high tolerance for midges and other biting insects. For those of you who are not so daring, the castles are wonderful, cool in the warm summers and fun to explore. For myself, I would be off horseback riding across the rolling hills of Verdeux!
What dangers should we avoid in Verdeux?  
Verdeux is a stable country without many predators. Once out in the wilderness, there are many dangers: fire boars, wolves and, of course, dragons!
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Verdeux?
Roasted fire boar if you are in the company of dragons! Otherwise, normal fair for that time: mead, ale and wine to drink; game to eat (venison, pheasant, grouse). It’s a heavy meat culture so you wouldn’t see many green vegetables. J
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Verdeux?
Swords, bows, trebuchets, lances are all incorporated in warfare in medieval Verdeux.
What type of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Verdeux?
Horses and horses pulling carts. Carriages haven’t been invented yet so riding in carts is pretty rough.
Tell us about any sports, games or activities that are available for entertainment in Verdeux.
Princess Genevieve and her father are both avid chess players. Most of the royals play card and board games to while away the hours. During the evenings troubadours are invited to sing and play during dinner. Storytelling is widely used as a way of passing time and socializing. You could join in at a country dance, it doesn’t take much talent, just a desire to have fun and enjoy the music. During evenings, skits are put on by the locals. Sit down and enjoy the show.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
I’ve traveled quite a lot in my life and lived in different cultures. I also read widely. These have strongly influenced my writing. Chris lives in a 1970’s Berkeley culture and I lived there during the 1980’s. Genevieve’s world is more medieval French. My stay in France for three months, climbing castle walls and scrambling over drawbridges, gave me a smattering of insight into what a medieval world might have looked like.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
In the book I touch on a number of hot-button issues but in a gentle and subtle way. I want people to think.
1. What are the desirable traits for females in different societies?
In my book, Genevieve and Chris are both strong females in their worlds and both define strength differently. Is strength defiance or is there strength in sacrifice? Is standing up for yourself important or is submitting yourself to the greater good the better way. At any given time, how do you tell which way is best?
2. What does it mean to be human? What defines that?
3. What is most important in love?
Genevieve and Chris have to answer these questions. For each woman there are different  issues and different choices. How does one decide? What qualities would you want in a partner and why? What qualities would you willing to sacrifice for the perfect partner?
4. Who are you outside of the world that you are raised in?
Would you behave differently if transported across the world to a different culture? Would you change as a person or would you adhere to what you already know?
5. How do you react to adversity? Both Genevieve and Chris are presented with difficult situations. Each one reacts based on her understanding of how the world works. Could there have been another way?
Author Autobiography: Not so long ago, my life centered around Morris and Sword dancing, I started writing around the time I ended my fifty-bell habit. During the last fifteen years I have belonged to SCBWI and have been active within the group. My golden retriever and my husband keep me hiking and roaming the hills. I dabble in stained glass, baking and gardening. When opportunity arises, I also make weird piñatas and hang out in my tree-house.
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book?  The Dragons’ Chosen is available as a paperback or in epub, mobi, pdf, lrf, pdb, txt or html versions.
The paperback and kindle versions are available here:
The pdf version can be found at:
Where can readers connect with you online? 
I love to hear from readers. Contact me at my facebook account at https://www.facebook.com/Gwen-Dandridge-Author-674339635928556/
Or on my web page at www.gwendandridge.com

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Verdeux.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to another fantasy world, in Realm Explorers Part XCXVII!
-Annie Douglass Lima