H. Leighton Dickson

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H. Leighton Dickson

Goodreads Author

in Fort William, Canada



Guy Gavriel Kay, Jules Verne, A. Conan Doyle

Member Since
July 2012


H. Leighton Dickson grew up in the wilds of the Canadian Shield, where her neighbours were wolves, moose, perrenial-eating deer and the occasional lynx. She studied Zoology at the University of Guelph and worked in the Edinburgh Zoological Gardens in Scotland, where she was chased by lions, wrestled deaf tigers and fed antibiotics to Polar Bears by baby bottle! She has been writing since she was thirteen, has three dogs, three cats, one horse, three kids and one husband. She has managed to keep all of them alive so far.

A successful indie author, Heather has 8 Scifi/Fantasy novels including the Upper Kingdom series and the Empire of Steam series, as well as the award-winning DRAGON OF ASH & STARS. She also writes for Bayview Magazine and is

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H. Leighton Dickson This was a hard one to answer, honestly. I literally wracked my brain for days and in the process of doing so, I came across some very interesting bra…moreThis was a hard one to answer, honestly. I literally wracked my brain for days and in the process of doing so, I came across some very interesting brain threads. They answer the question (sort of) but provide a few deeper answers that I had never really stopped to think about. Let me explain…

Now when I first read this question, I naturally assumed it was asking about a favourite ‘romantic’ literary couple. This is likely why I was so stumped. I am not a ‘girly girl’, never read romance or romantic fiction and while I love Jane Austen and the Brontes, it was less for the romance than for the complicated period pieces that they wove. With Austen, the manners, the wit, the banter, the plucky heroine overcoming and winning the day. With a Bronte, it was the mystery, the intrigue, the melancholy and the despair. Gothic angst at it’s finest, whether Heathcliff and Cathy or Jane and Rochester. But as satisfying as say, Lizzie and Darcy are as a couple, none of these would I consider my favourites. I couldn’t just pick one and be done.

No, I’m much more cerebral than that. Friendship was always what fascinated me, or more appropriately, partnership. Phileas Fogg and Passepartout or Aubrey and Maturin – those are the relationships that intrigued me to no end, so naturally, my very first instinct was Holmes and Watson. Funny, I know. I’m not a shipper (which is very popular these days), but I have always loved their relationship. Theirs is a friendship that goes beyond a good cup of tea and a mystery. There’s a mutual dependence that Doyle only touched on, but ultimately carried through his entire series. Not really an arc, it was just there in every story. Holmes, with his brilliant mind and Bohemian lifestyle, needed Watson to ground him, decipher him, humanize him (and not just for the reader. I believe for the character.) Same for Watson, a sharp and capable man in his own right, drawn to the brilliance just a star or two above him, needing to understand, to know, to reach, to grow. They have always been, and likely will always be, my favourite literary couple, and I will never tire of their stories.

That said, if I sat and tried to think about the question as indeed a romantic couple, who would they be??? I have such a lifetime of reading that to single them out would be tricky and I spent a great deal of time pondering the notion. I liked D’Artagnan and Constance. I liked Peter Pan and Wendy. I disliked Hermione and Ron, disliked Lancelot and Guinevere. Really, I think I must have deliberately avoided books with romantic plotlines like the plague.

As I have always said, Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Lions of al-Rassan is probably my favourite novel and the relationship of characters Jehane and Ammar captivated me. Upon taking this deeper, Jehane and Ammar may well have been prototypes for Fallon and Kerris, and suddenly, things began to twig for me. I had stumbled upon a theme.

Fallon and Kerris, Ivy and Sebastien, even at a stretch, Aryss and Stormfall. The same relational dynamic was displayed. Why, I asked myself. Where did this theme start?

Then it hit me. Tarzan and Jane.

I was a big Burroughs buff in my youth (along with Wells, Verne, et al) and being a zoologist, the notion of a man not only living but thriving in the wild thrilled me. He was raw, natural and elemental, understanding things that were beyond the experience of civilized society. Now add Jane, a product of her environment but better, with an open mind, a thirst for knowledge and a desire for more than what society had set out for her. Just like Fallon, just like Ivy. The wild man of the elements? Kerris and Sebastien. Intellect drawn to instinct, and vice versa like the yin-yang symbol I so love.

It’s always there if I keep digging. Phineas Fogg wants more, Passepartout makes it happen. Holmes is the lighthouse, Watson the sandbar he is built upon. Cathy is the aristocracy, Heathcliff the anarchy. Stormfall at war in his life with the sticks. And so it goes. Whether it’s romantic, filial, or philosophical, my favourite couple is the coupling of opposites and how they ultimately bring harmony to a story and sometimes a happy ending.

Whew. That was tough! I should have just said Black Beauty and Ginger over a cup of tea. But I thank the person who asked this question. It really helped me put a spotlight on some of my own personal themes and tropes and I’m sure I’ll be thinking about this for weeks to come.

So I challenge you to think about who your favourite literary couples are, and why? Drop me a note once you’ve thought it through!(less)
H. Leighton Dickson Oh I was hoping someone would ask me that question! I actually have a series of soundtracks that I listen to while writing the Upper Kingdom series, i…moreOh I was hoping someone would ask me that question! I actually have a series of soundtracks that I listen to while writing the Upper Kingdom series, including Tan Dun's 'Hero' and 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' and Ramin Djawadi's 'Game of Thrones', but if I were to pick a theme, I'd have to say either 'Marco Polo' or 'Night Ride Across the Caucasus' in Loreena McKennitt's wonderful CD 'Book of Secrets.' That entire CD is very evocative of the haunting Celtic and Asian blend that continue to inspire the Upper Kingdom.

Oddly enough, while I was writing TO WALK IN THE WAY OF LIONS, I went through a huge Lord of the Dance phase, and my kids will often say "Oh that's Kerris' theme!" ('Breakout') or "Oh, there's Sherah!" ('Gypsy') You can hear Ursa in 'Warriors', Ling in "Celtic Dream", Sireth in 'Lament' and Fallon in any of the singing pieces. It's kind of funny that I can listen to that CD and pick out the subtle shaping of scenes including the powerful scene in Book 2 where the Alchemists converge on Sireth in the tent. If you listen to that piece of music ('Nightmare'), you can literally see the scene play out in your head.

I think if Kirin were to have a theme, it would have to the theme "Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn" - so powerful and majestic and a little sad.

What do you think? Do you have a piece of music that you listen to when you're reading the Upper Kingdom books?

And thanks for asking - great question!!!

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A Fantastical Development

Picture Well, it’s time to let the tiger out of the bag. I’ve signed with the fantastical Desiree Wilson of The Bent Agency to represent me in my literary career, starting with SHIP OF SPELLS! You likely know that, as a ‘confirmed indie’, I was skeptical of traditional publishing, having been let down on that path once before. But seeing the relationship between my friend, Jean E. Pendziwol, and her age Read more of this blog post »
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Published on October 22, 2020 14:38
To Journey in the Year of t... To Walk in the Way of Lions Songs in the Year of the Cat Snow in the Year of the Dragon
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Cold Stone & Ivy: The Ghost... Cold Stone & Ivy: The Crown...
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Dune by Frank Herbert
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It was about time, honestly, to read this SciFi classic and it didn't disappoint. The world building is unprecedented, and I can see why readers are drawn into its mythology and lore. The multiple POVs and brain-hopping within scenes was distracting ...more
Dragon of Ash & Stars by H. Leighton Dickson
"This was a fun read, even though parts of it were utterly heartbreaking. A little like Black Beauty, only with dragons in place of horses.

I did have a little trouble believing how some of the dragon-drawn carriages and carts would work--what with fl" Read more of this review »
Dragon of Ash & Stars by H. Leighton Dickson
"I fell in love with the way this story was narrated. While at times, it was frustrating to see Stormfall fall prey to the lures of the "stick people", I understood that this was a creature still learning the world. Because of that, I found this chara" Read more of this review »
Dragon of Ash & Stars by H. Leighton Dickson
"I’ve never read a book from the perspective of a dragon so this one was really unique in that regard. It was definitely an interesting read; I love new perspectives and differing thought processes. Also just dragons in general. But, I think a lot of " Read more of this review »
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Fantastic world building, totally immersive. Original and skilled and consistent. Not the kind of book you can pick up and put down and pick up again easily. You def. need a solid block of time to dive in and stay.
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“Above all things, dragons are loyal. Perhaps that is what makes us to amenable to life with sticks. Our characters are larger than their shortfalls.”
H. Leighton Dickson, Dragon of Ash & Stars: The Autobiography of a Night Dragon

“We didn’t have words. We didn’t have writing or maps or language, but we had music and in that music, we spoke victory and loss, sadness and rage. We sang fire and water, earth and sky. We wrote the history of the Battle of Lamos and told the story of Selisanae of the Sun and wove the tragedy of the lives and deaths of dragons in every land. It was marvellous.”
H. Leighton Dickson, Dragon of Ash & Stars: The Autobiography of a Night Dragon

“When there are a hundred dragons in the sky, it is Hell Down and Hallow Fire. It is the winds of a hurricane and the roar of the storm. We blot out the sun, we blacken the clouds, we churn the sea like foam. It is a magnificent, terrifying sight.”
H. Leighton Dickson, Dragon of Ash & Stars: The Autobiography of a Night Dragon
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