Saturday, 24 October 2015

Guest Feature




The Drago Tree by Isobel Blackthorn

(Pub: Odyssey Books, 2015)



The Drago Tree

Haunted by demons past and present, geologist Ann Salter seeks sanctuary on the exotic island of Lanzarote. There she meets charismatic author Richard Parry and indigenous potter Domingo and together they explore the island.

Ann’s encounters with the island’s hidden treasures becomes a journey deep inside herself as she struggles to understand who she was, who she is, and who she wants to be.

Set against a panoramic backdrop of dramatic island landscapes and Spanish colonial history, The Drago Tree is an intriguing tale of betrayal, conquest and love in all its forms.



“This beautifully constructed novel reveals the complexity we invite into our lives when we open our hearts to passion.” Robert Hillman, The Honey Thief 



Photo: Jalle F
The Machinations of Empire - Lanzarote and the Drago Tree by Isobel Blackthorn

The Drago Tree is a story of conquest, both of the protagonist, Ann, and the island of Lanzarote, a Canary Island off the Moroccan coast. Lanzarote provides a rich microcosmic example of the machinations of empire, its colonial history spanning 700 years from 1402, when Norman knight, Jean Bethencourt, claimed the island on behalf of the king of Castille.

I became fascinated with Lanzarote’s history as I worked the theme of conquest into the story of protagonist, Ann Salter, and her own tribulations. For me, Ann’s experiences were mirrored in the island’s history.  The more I worked with the theme, the more drawn I was to every single detail of it. In the end, I had a draft laden with information, the curse of every writer. Much of it was pastiche, and after I slaved away crafting nice sentences out of contemporaneous journal material written by a couple of priests, I had to cut it out of the draft.  What is left is the merest taste, as told by Ann, who reads all about the island before she arrives.

Here’s an extract that I was forced to delete:

‘In Europe, Empire’s unquenchable cupidity was sanctioned by Papal bulls, no land legitimately sovereign unless Christian. Ann’s teacher, Mr Badcock, was fond of telling his class of mostly disinterested teenagers that there is no greater evil on earth than in those who do evil in the name of good, especially when that good is God. Empire justifies its actions and righteous claims through adversary. No better adversary than another Empire. Ann wondered now how Mr Badcock managed to hold onto his job.

After colonial conquest, the biggest threat to beleaguered Lanzarote came from Algiers and Sale. Renegades from both cities were fuelled by a collective and vengeful hatred of the Spanish who were blithely conquering anywhere and everywhere they could. Ann imagined Mr Badcock, clapping his hands together with paraliptical relish.’


Photo: Jalle F




About the Author

Isobel Blackthorn was born in London and has lived in Spain, Lanzarote, (Canary Islands), and Australia. She’s been a teacher, market trader, project manager and PA to a literary agent. Isobel received her PhD in Social Ecology in 2006. She now lives in rural New South Wales where she follows her passions for social justice, philosophy, current affairs, books and art.

Isobel is the author of a collection of short stories, All Because of You (Ginninderra Press), and the novel, Asylum (Odyssey Books). Her writing has appeared in e-journals in Australia and the US. Her second novel, The Drago Tree, was released by Odyssey books on 1 October 2015.