The Old Dragon's Head by Justin Newland

I have an exciting historical fantasy/supernatural thriller to share with you today. What I love about the book is the cover and how it catches your attention. The beautiful or terrifying, depending on your view, dragon shows you something exciting awaits you. Keep reading for an exclusive interview with the author and a giveaway opportunity.

Book Description:

The Great Wall of China may be constructed of stone and packed earth, but it is home to a supernatural beast – the Old Dragon. Both wall and dragon protect China’s northern borders from Mongol incursion. Just beyond the fortress of Shanhaiguan, the far eastern end of the wall protrudes into the Bohai Sea – that’s the Old Dragon’s Head.

Bolin, a young man working on the Old Dragon’s Head, suffers visions of ghosts. The local seer suspects that he has yin-yang eyes and other supernatural gifts. Bolin’s fief lord, the Prince of Yan, rebels against his nephew, the Jianwen Emperor. In the bitter war of succession, the Mongols hold the balance of power. While the victor might win the battle on earth, China’s Dragon Throne can only be earned with a Mandate from Heaven – and the support of the Old Dragon. In every era, a man endowed with the powers of heaven – the Dragon Master – is born. Only he can summon the Old Dragon, providing he possesses the dragon pearl. It’s the year 1402, and neither the Old Dragon, the dragon pearl, nor the Dragon Master, has been seen for twenty years. Bolin’s journey of self-discovery is mirrored by that of old China, as both endeavour to come of age. When Bolin accepts his destiny as the Dragon Master, heaven sends a third coming of age – for humanity itself. But are any of them ready for what is rising in the east?

Author Interview:

Where are you from, and where do you call home?

I was born by the sea in Essex, England. Today my home is in another coastal town in Somerset, England.


What inspired you to start writing?

I wrote a novel and some short stories when I was a student, a long time ago. Through my life, I got fascinated by history, and what made people do what they do. I did a lot of research in Ancient Egypt, China and Prussia, which later evolved into the subject areas of my first three novels.  I began turning those histories into fiction in 2008.

I’ve always read widely, with an eclectic taste in literature, philosophy, history, drama, even anthropology, biology, heraldry and geography with a passion for the esoteric and the supernatural. Combining these disparate threads into a novel was a lure I couldn’t ignore. 


What comes first, the plot or characters?

For me, mostly the plot. I work an idea, introduce the themes I want to explore, and fill out the story with the characters and the setting.


Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Writer’s block is usually considered to be caused by being empty, having nothing going on, resulting in having nothing to say. I disagree. In fact, it’s the opposite. The clue is in the name writer’s BLOCK. A blockage suggests there’s too much going on, and being full up, not empty.

The way round writer’s block is to empty out, make space for what you want to write next to get into you. Emptying out can be anything from going to a party, a long walk, or writing in your diary.

A good way to remove the block is to develop the back story of the setting, the plot or the characters. It serves to loosen the bindings of the plot or character arc and allows a way forward.


Are you working on anything at the present you would like to tell us about?

It’s a two-book series set in Elizabethan England. It’s an epic story and secret history of the coming-of-age of the Island of Angels, from which the series takes its name.

It features a Flemish emigree, Nelan Michaels, who is forced by religious persecution to flee his home and settles in Mortlake on the River Thames, near the houses of Dr John Dee, Elizabeth’s court astrologer, and Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth’s spymaster.  

The first book, The Mark of the Salamander, covers Sir Francis Drake’s circumnavigation of the world ending in 1581. It’s to be published in September 2023.

The second book, The Midnight of Eights, culminates in the repulse of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Watch out for it next year, in 2024. 


What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?

There are two kinds of writers. Those who give up and those who don’t.

Meet the Author:

JUSTIN NEWLAND’s novels represent an innovative blend of genres from historical fiction and crime, to supernatural thrillers and mystery. His stories deal with the themes of war, religion, and evolution and speculate on the human’s spiritual place in the universe.

Undeterred by the award of a Doctorate in Mathematics from Imperial College, London, he found his way to the creative keyboard and conceived his debut novel, The Genes of Isis (Matador, 2018), an epic fantasy set under Ancient Egyptian skies.

Next came the historical fantasy, The Old Dragon’s Head (Matador, 2018), set in Ming Dynasty China in the shadows of the Great Wall.

His next historical fantasy, The Coronation (Matador, 2019), speculates on the genesis of the most important event in the modern world – the Industrial Revolution.

His fourth, The Abdication (Matador, 2021), is a supernatural thriller in which a young woman confronts her faith in a higher purpose and what it means to abdicate that faith.

He regularly gives talks to historical associations and libraries and enjoys giving radio interviews and making podcasts. Born three days before the end of 1953, he lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England.

connect with the author: website twitter ~ facebook instagram pinterest bookbub goodreads

Enter the Giveaway:

THE OLD DRAGON HEAD Book Tour Giveaway


  1. Many thanks for hosting this stop on the iRead Book Tour of my old China novel, The Old Dragon's Head. Who knows when the supernatural dragon that occupies the Great Wall will rise again?


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