Interview: “Blazing Blunderbuss” by Nix Whittaker

Dragons have changed history forever.

Gideon is the top of the food chain but when he is kidnapped he is trapped in his human form until Hara rescues him. Hara isn’t looking for trouble but she seems to attract it when they accidentally steal a pirate airship and are thrust into a conspiracy that could bring war to the Empire.

Hara is running from her past when she stumbles across Gideon, an academic in need of rescuing. Only he is a dragon and he wants to collect her into his treasure. She isn’t about to let anyone tell her what to do ever again.

Blazing Blunderbuss is available for a limited time in The Young Adult Charity MegaBundle.

Whether you’re looking for a pulse-pounding action in space, a witchy urban fantasy mystery, or a sweeter tale of unicorns and magic, this MegaBundle delivers! This bundle includes 28 books, including award-winning books from NYTimes and USA Today bestselling authors. Since money is tight for a lot of people right now, the floor of this bundle at a mere dollar, but if you’re in a position to spend a little more for this great collection, please do.

Half the MegaBundle profits will go to Mighty Writers, a non-profit organization benefiting children’s literacy.


Light cracked into the wooden box Gideon was trapped in. He didn’t find himself locked into a wooden box very often, so he watched the crack widen with curiosity. There was a loud snap and the lid of the box was removed completely.

Gideon looked up at the men who stared down at him. He didn’t jump up and try to escape, as success wasn’t likely with the bands around his wrists. The bands seemed innocuous, but they made sure he hadn’t escaped from the moment he woke up in the small, coffin-like box. He had already tried to shift his form, but when he couldn’t, he had studied his very small surroundings. That was when he had discovered the bands around his wrists. He hadn’t been able to see them in the dark, but he had guessed what they were when he couldn’t shift his shape.

Whoever had organised to kidnap him had known well their task. The bands were made out of the elements which had first drawn him to this world, and it made things a little sticky when it came to his ability to change into his true form.

He didn’t think he was in his home city anymore either. He had been knocked out and he had woken up in this box, and that had been hours before, or possibly even days.

A man growled and all the men looking down at Gideon stepped away. Gideon eased into a sitting position and studied the room around him. The seedy room had no windows. It looked like a rundown tavern room set aside for private guests, complete with peeling wallpaper which had once been lovely, but was now faded and stained. The furniture was sparse and also faded. The flower pattern on the fabric now looked like children’s finger painting.

He had been placed in the middle of the room. The box was uncomfortably shaped like a coffin. The room itself was mostly filled with men. About half a dozen of them glared at Gideon, though he wasn’t sure what he had done to deserve the dark looks. The men all wore tall black boots wrapped with leather straps. They had an abundance of fur on the rest of their clothes. They sure did look warm, and Gideon wished he had some of their fur, as it was cold in the room.

Gideon grinned and said, “Is it possible for one of you to turn up the heat just a tad? My bones are quite brittle at my age.” Everyone ignored his comment as Gideon looked around to find which one of the men was in charge.

The man who had growled at the others earlier said, “Are you Gideon, the mathematician?”

Gideon studied the men. He wasn’t used to being referred to as merely a mathematician. Usually there was an epithet in front of it, like “annoying” or “moron”. He rather liked “moron mathematician” as it was an alliteration and there was some symmetry to the insult. He had worked at the university in the capital for the last four decades as a professor, and even they did not call him merely a mathematician.

Gideon turned to look at the man before he said, “I’m a mathematician, but I’m not sure I’m the one you want. I know this mathematician who looks just like me, we have the same tailor. I’m sure he would be happy to help you out, but I’m afraid my plants are going to miss me. I’m sure they’re already wilting.”

The man shrugged. Older than most of the others in the room and had a white peppered beard. His fur hat covered oily hair. He stepped forward. “I am Nikolai. And if you are a mathematician, then you are the one we want. The men who procured you for us would not have made a mistake lightly.”

Gideon had been studying the other men in the room and the room itself when Nikolai’s last sentence grabbed his attention. “Someone procured me for you?”

—from Blazing Blunderbuss by Nix Whittaker

The Interview

What inspired you to write Blazing Blunderbuss?

I was watching one of those documentaries that are really fake but a kind of what if situation about dragons. And I started thinking what if dragons were real. Except you don’t get many creatures on earth with wings and four legs and a tail. So if dragons couldn’t really evolve on our planet where would they come from. And that started me on my story. I have dragons from another planet who use science so advanced it looks like magic to come to earth. They are fleeing the total destruction of their planet but only the men took the risk to travel across the void to Earth.

It allows me to play with another culture that gets misunderstood and people trying to figure out their place in the world.

What are some of your favorite YA books as a reader, and what makes them stand out for you?

Tamora Pierce and her Alanna series is one of my top favourites. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. As you can see I love female protagonists who don’t quite fit in but through determination and strength of character they carve a place for themselves. They don’t apologise for being different and instead surround themselves with people who accept them for who they are.

Why do you think so many people, of all ages, love reading YA?

I think it is because they want to rewrite history. The great thing about books is being able to escape. To live out scenarios where we are brave and resourceful. Where we beat the evil in our lives and live happily ever after. We can relive our younger years and tell ourselves that is how we would have faced our problems when we were younger.

Why do you love writing about dragons?

What isn’t there to love about dragons? My dragons come from another world so I love writing about their culture. And usually how humans misunderstand their culture. I’m a white girl and so I find it hard to write the Other. But I also desperately want to write the Other. So instead I made my own culture up where I don’t have to worry about stepping on people’s toes but still get to explore how we react to a culture we don’t understand or don’t know. And how we also have a lot in common if we are only willing to get to know the other. What better way than to use dragons. Some cultures revere them while others consider them maiden eating monsters.

If you could be a fantasy creature for a day, which would you choose, and why?

I wanted to say unicorn as that would be pretty cool but that is so generic. Selkie is therefore my choice. I couldn’t think of anything better than being able to swim to the depths of the ocean and then when I wanted to strip off my skin and walk on the shore. No need to sell your voice to get those legs and I’d just be careful to keep an eye on my skin.

Which steampunk tropes did you use in your book, and how did you change them to fit your story?

I have an airship and inventors. My airship is the home for the Found Family in my story. I liked that idea of a home that is forever moving. I moved from South Africa to New Zealand when I was a young girl. Many thought we were traitors to move countries and I wanted a story where nationalism and that sense of home is different. So I have a moving home. I combined my inventor with a hidden or secret identity so she doesn’t do much inventing on screen. Her skills are linked to a troubled past so it is more of a device to show that she is a smart cookie.

What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

At the moment I’m working on the last book in my Wyvern Mysteries series. Though set in Scotland it has a bit of a western feel as I have train robbery in the middle. That was fun to write. My dad always liked westerns so we would watch them late at night when they were on TV. He passed away last year so I was feeling nostalgic and thought I would do something in my latest book that he would have found fun.

About Nix

Nix Whittaker is an English teacher in the heart of the North Island of New Zealand. She lives with her cats and her dog in the shadow of an active volcano where she writes in her spare time.

Nix started as a reader to help improve her spelling as she is dyslexic, but was hooked by the marvelous worlds of Mercedes Lackey and Terry Pratchett. As time passed and she read out the library, she was forced to write to feed her ferocious need to read. Now her books are influenced by Patricia Briggs and Anne Bishop as she is still very much a reader and so writes books she would like to read herself.

Find Nix

Website ~ Goodreads ~ BookBub

Find The Young Adult Charity MegaBundle!

This bundle is available for a limited time at

Half the MegaBundle profits will go to Mighty Writers, a non-profit organization benefiting children’s literacy.

Grab the bundle today! You’re not only getting a fabulous deal, you’re also helping make the world a better place!


Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!