"That's all very well," Lydia said with an exasperated sigh. "But I really wanted someone with their own transport. What if there was an emergency?" As the words left Lydia's lips, a roar blossomed outside and cut off suddenly. Tuli scrambled upstairs to look out the window. Below, a petite figure stood on the gravel drive beside a dirt bike, took off a scuffed red helmet and shook out long, black hair before twisting her tresses up again in a scarf.
Tuli almost squealed. "Is that her? I like this one, mum. Mum? Mum!"
"She's on a motorbike! Tuli, you are absolutely not getting on a motorbike."
Lydia put on her best stern voice. "Shush now. Wait up there."
Tuli scurried back to her favorite stair, ears alert for the new visitor, hoping she was nice and sensible and down-to-earth like her mum wanted, but also imagining she might be everything she herself wanted too.
By the time Lydia had the door opened, the girl's leather jacket and helmet safely stashed in the under-stair cupboard, Tuli was already roaring along the single-track roads in her imagination, wind whistling past her and arms around the waist of the dark-haired girl riding up front.
Tuli shook the daydream away so she could concentrate on her eavesdropping. "I'm so sorry I'm a bit late," the girl was saying. "I had to stop and wait for the cows."
ALI COYLE: I adore this early scene in Chrysalides, with Tuli and her mother first meeting Rishona, partly because it gives me such a strong sense of place. In my head, this whole story is set in Devon, in a house I lived in which bordered a forest, sat two miles down a single track road, and heaven help you if you wanted to go anywhere at milking time. I can see it in my head, and when you read Tuli's story I hope you can too.
I love Lydia's attempts at interviewing potential companions for her daughter because nobody could ever be good enough. Lydia knows this, knows she is looking for reasons to reject Rishona. That Lydia's first reaction to the bike is to forbid Tuli from getting on it shows how fearful she is of allowing Tuli independence. Lydia is struggling with the thought of leaving her darling daughter alone when she desperately wants to be able to stay.
I also love Tuli's reaction to seeing Rishona for the first time. She's smitten from the instant Rishona takes her motorcycle helmet off and shakes out her hair. Tuli already knows she's not into boys, and a biker girl dressed in a black leather jacket is like something out of a fantasy for her.
It is important to me that Tuli and Lydia have a positive, supportive relationship where Tuli can be open about who she is and Lydia loves her for everything, not despite everything.
Including the fact that her daughter is also a dragon.
Ali Coyle is a science educator by day, a fiction writer by night, and has been an unapologetic daydreamer since birth. Whilst studying physics at university, Ali chose to interpret the 'scientists can't write' stereotype as a personal challenge and has been writing down their daydreams ever since. Along with publishing Chrysalides, her first book with Improbable Press, Ali has an extensive back-catalogue of fanfiction and currently writes as 'Rudbeckia' on AO3. Ali can also be found at @alicoylewrites and @rudbeckiaSun on twitter, and on her website. They are very fond of folk tales, mild horror, romance, and cats.