The Mystery of Peter S. Beagle’s I’m Afraid You’ve Got Dragons

The Mystery of Peter S. Beagle’s I’m Afraid You’ve Got Dragons

I'm Afraid You've Got Dragons-smallPeter Beagle is one of the finest living fantasy writers. His 1968 novel The Last Unicorn has long been considered a classic, and The Innkeeper’s Song (1993) and Tamsin (1999) were both nominated for the World Fantasy Award. His 2007 novel I’m Afraid You’ve Got Dragons isn’t as well known as some of his others, but it has its fans. It’s currently ranked at 3.88 (out of 5) at Goodreads, and it has five stars at Beagle has drummed up a lot of interest in it over the years by reading chapters at various conventions (you can watch him do a public reading of the first chapter here).

I’ve been dying to get my hands on a copy myself. But that’s proven to be fairly tricky because, as it turns out, the book doesn’t exist.

I’m sure this has frustrated more than a few Beagle collectors, because it can take a while to figure this out. Even the Internet Speculative Fiction Database thinks this book exists. And, as far as I know, Amazon and Goodreads aren’t generally in the habit of listing books that don’t exist. But trust me. This ain’t a book.

The closest I’ve come to finding an explanation is this brief note at the bottom of an excerpt from the novel at Green Man Review, quoting a defunct section of Beagle’s website:

The story was originally supposed to be a 40,000 word novella, no longer. But it grew. The first draft came in at more than twice that: nearly 90,000 words… I’m Afraid You’ve Got Dragons was originally contracted to Firebird Books, and announced for a Summer 2007 release — but completion of the final draft was delayed as the manuscript insisted on growing, and because of time lost to unavoidable family issues, so the book was rescheduled for Summer 2008. Before it could be turned in, however, a serious business conflict came up between Peter and Penguin USA over the 40th Anniversary Edition of The Last Unicorn. This ultimately led Peter to conclude that after many years of association with Penguin imprints it was time to move on. Since Firebird was a Penguin imprint, that meant pulling I’m Afraid You’ve Got Dragons.

The site also notes that publication is likely in 2008 or early 2009 from Conlan Press, where “Peter will have the control over the book that he wants.” But that never happened.

Ironically, a part of the reason I was fooled into thinking this book actually existed for so long was the existence of reader reviews at multiple sites. But a closer look at those reviews just confirms the dismal truth. Here’s the sole 5-star review at Amazon:

Never Published, March 1, 2009
By K. Howard “Kit”
This review is from: I’m Afraid You’ve Got Dragons (Hardcover)
When this book first appeared in catalogues, I tried to order it. After some effort, I spoke with the publisher, who said that Beagle had withdrawn the book and it was never published. What a terrible shame! With that content summary, it would have been a fantastic Beagle story. Hopefully he will reconsider.

And the sole community review at Goodreads:

Book was withdrawn from release and put on hold indefinitely.

Sadness 🙁

And there you have it. As far as I know, the book is not currently scheduled to be published any time soon.

Here’s a look at the gorgeous wraparound cover by Justin Sweet, if that’s any consolation.

I'm Afraid You've Got Dragons art by Justin Sweet

I’m Afraid You’ve Got Dragons was not published by Puffin / Penguin Books in August 2007. It is 224 pages, priced at $11.99 in hardcover (which doesn’t exist). There is no digital edition, and if there were, I bet it wouldn’t exist either. The cover is by Justin Sweet.

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Amy Bisson

It took me years to realize Buttercup’s Baby doesn’t actually exist. On multiple occasions while I was married I tried to get it for my then-husband for his birthday or Christmas.

Allen Snyder

Much like all digital editions, the digital edition is ethereal. 😉


…What? But- that-
That explains so much…
and also means I can take it off my birthday wish list instead of having it there for the sixth year in a row.


Blackwell’s ships for free to the US


It’s being published under Simon & Schuster under Saga in North America

Will Larson

Hey it’s finally getting published!! Suppose to come out May of 2024

N Shipstead

My understanding is he didn’t actually write this.

N Shipstead

Like I said, he didn’t actually write it:

N Shipstead

Since you were one of the first sites to be notified that it was questionable whether Peter Beagle had actually written “I’m afraid you’ve got dragons.”

You might be interested to know that the book is now being pulled in the UK. The publisher Is no longer offering it. The Kindle edition is no longer being offered at Amazon.

Connor Cochran

An acquaintance of mine has already pointed you at the truth, a summary of which can be found at

Peter Beagle is taking public credit for a story he did not create, and only partially wrote. There are a number of reasons for this. None of them, alas, are positive.

The initial genesis of the idea was a fanzine illustration I drew back in the 1970s. The caption was “They’re in the walls,” and the cartoon showed two priests, one of whom is glaring at a tiny mouse-sized dragon that he is holding up by its tail (the tiny dragon is grinning wildly at the priest, clearly not frightened at all). I thought the idea of a church infested by itty-bitty dragons had humor potential as a short story, so for the next decade I played with variations of the idea, all under the title “A Surfeit of Dragons.” By that time I was beginning to make Hollywood connections as a journalist, and no longer found the modern-day church approach to the idea particularly interesting. Instead, inspired by the book and movie of THE PRINCESS BRIDE, I changed the title to I’M AFRAID YOU’VE GOT DRAGONS and decided to play games with various fantasy and fairy tale tropes. (Making the main character a young man who had inherited the low-status job of dragon exterminator from his father, while dreaming of a very different life, was actually a holdover from the “Surfeit” period. In that earlier take the lead was a young man with no religious convictions who had inherited a dragon-infested Bay Area church from his deceased evangelical pastor father.)

By 1996 I had the basic bones of the story settled in my mind, and started pitching it around Hollywood. In some places I pitched it as live-action. In others, as animation. It depended on what that particular studio or production company did. I even pitched it as a potential musical, and discussed writing demo tracks with the amazing Sam Glaser, one of the most brilliant musicians I’ve ever known.

In 1997 I talked about collaborating on a spec DRAGONS screenplay (and maybe a novel) with Bev Bertenshaw, a writer friend whom I’d written a bunch of comedy songs with over the years. What Bev came up with in response to my story notes didn’t work for me, so we didn’t proceed together. Instead I fleshed it out myself, generating another 8000 words of detailed story development, and kept pitching the project in Hollywood on my own.

I met Peter Beagle in 2001, and took out a film option on his first book, A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE. While working on the screenplay I learned how incredibly dire Peter’s circumstances were. When he asked me to help fix them, I did. Peter was so happy with the results that he eventually asked me to become his official business manager. That wasn’t anything I’d ever planned to do with my life, but there was no denying that our respective skills dovetailed well, so over the next decade we rebuilt his career, got most of his lost rights back, and achieved a lot of success together.

One thing we did to boost his career was to secretly collaborate. Working together, we generated a lot of “Peter S. Beagle” stories — way more than the field was used to seeing. Consider these numbers…in the 45 years between 1957 and 2002, Peter wrote and sold just 15 pieces of short fiction, while between 2002 and 2014 there were 46 (!) new “Peter S. Beagle” stories. (In the last 10 years Peter has published another 10 stories, but in fact only one of them was written after 2014. The other nine were pieces he wrote on his own before 2014, some based on his own ideas and some based on mine, that we hadn’t offered for sale because we agreed that they weren’t good enough yet.)

The exact 2002-2014 short fiction tally is as follows: 12 stories that Peter wrote and I only edited; 18 stories where I made a critical creative or written contribution that was more than editing, but not enough to qualify as co-authoring (in my opinion); and 16 stories where I wrote anywhere between 20% and 80% of the final text. I also came up with 18 of the titles. Peter’s “In Your Dreams” I changed to “Dirae,” and “Untitled Monster Story” was renamed “The Best Worst Monster.” The first piece Peter called ”Dragon Story” I changed to “Oakland Dragon Blues,” while the second became “Trinity County, CA: You’ll Want To Come Again, and We’ll Be Glad To See You!” My favorite title creation adorns the Beagle story published in the Troll’s Eye View collection. Peter’s drafts were all labeled “Jack and the Beanstalk as recounted by Mrs. Eunice Giant,” but I sent it in to the publisher like this:

Up the Down Beanstalk (A Wife Remembers)
— Special to the Cumulonimbus Weekly Chronicle, as
recounted by Mrs. Eunice Giant, 72 Fairweather Lane,
East-Of-The-Bean, Sussex Overhead —

We’d been secretly writing stories together for four years by 2006, so it felt natural to tackle a novel collaboratively when the editor at Firebird Books asked Peter to submit something to her. At that point Peter didn’t have any ideas he was excited about, so I emailed him the 8,000 words of I’m Afraid You’ve Got Dragons plot and character notes I’d written in 1997. When he agreed that there was something worth doing there, we got started. I gave him another 2,000 words of developmental material in the form of three “story scaffold” documents (one each for Plot, Character, and Theme), and we got started.

Not surprisingly — since it wasn’t Peter’s idea and he hadn’t been thinking about the story for decades, the way I had — his early work on the book was mediocre. The project very quickly turned into one of our “mostly Connor” jobs: in this case my title and my plot, and now mainly my writing. I was responsible for 75-80% of the text in the first 11 chapters, overall, and on three or four of those chapters I wrote even more than that.
Chapter nine is a good example of how we worked. It has four scenes. Scene #1 is the diplomatic dance between Mortmain and the chamberlein. Every word of that is mine. Scene #2 is Cerise’s emotional chaos and her conversation with her mother. Peter wrote a draft for me to work from, and I wound up using some of it…but even what I kept I modified significantly. Scene #3 is Robert and his sisters at home, and once again every word is mine. Scene #4 closes the chapter with the betrothal ceremony, and most of it is mine. Just before I started it I asked Peter to send me a betrothal speech for Prince Reginald, which he did, and I used roughly half. The rest of the scene was all mine.

But I’m not going to ask you to take my word for that. I’m going to pull the curtain back a bit, and share exactly what Peter sent me. After you read these bits you should reread chapter nine in the ARC. With the exception of a 20-word clause that Peter added to one of the Queen’s lines (“they are in fact as hopelessly snarled as a ball of yarn after the cat gets through playing with it”) every difference between what is here and what is in the ARC was my contribution.


Princess Cerise’s pink tongue-tip stuck out of the left-hand corner of her mouth, as it always did when she was concentrating on her writing. She had tried Princess Cerise of Corvinia a few times, but that was too easy, and quickly became boring; so now she was alternating between Mrs. Crown Prince Reginald, which somehow didn’t look right, and Cerise, Princess of Bellemontagne, Countess of Corvina, which was too long and cramped her fingers. But she was a determined young woman, and she kept working at it until she heard her father on the stair, and promptly whisked the stylus and writing block behind a curtain. She was back in her chair with yarn and crochet hook when King Antoine entered the room to say, “Cerise? We have to talk about this.”

The Princess did not look up. “There’s nothing to talk about, Daddy.”

“Oh, yes,” the King said grimly. “Yes, there bloody well is! Your hero prince, your warrior-bunny – isn’t that what I heard you call him to your mother last night? That one. We need to talk about him right now.”

“Or maybe just Countess of Corvinia,” Cerise mused half-aloud, nibbling absently on the crochet hook. “I wouldn’t mind that. My friends would call me Princess, and who cares about the rest?” She smiled dreamily at her father, not seeing him at all.

“Cerise, I’m not having this!” King Antoine snatched the crocheting away from her. “For once in your life, I’m putting my foot down! The warrior-bunny goes.”

He had Princess Cerise’s full attention now. “It’s not fair! You don’t even know him!”

“I know he’s King Krije’s son, and that’s more than enough for me. There is no way in the world that our family is ever going to be linked to that murderous old monster. I’ve no ill-will toward the boy, no hard feelings, but he goes tomorrow. Bag, baggage, and squire – if that’s what that man really is, which I doubt. Do you hear me, Cerise?”

“She hears you,” Queen Helene spoke from behind him. “So do I. So does half the castle. Go away, Antoine, you’re upsetting our daughter.” When he hesitated, the Queen stamped her own foot. “Go on – go pass an edict or play with your soldiers, but go now.” The King left hastily, and Helene passed Princess Cerise a fragile lacy handkerchief. “There – blow your nose, and stop crying.”

“I’m not crying!” The suggestion annoyed Cerise as she had not been until then. “I’ve hardly been listening, if you want to know.” She turned to face Queen Helene, and promptly burst into tears. “Mother, I am going to marry him! I don’t care what you and Daddy say!”

“I haven’t said anything,” the Queen answered with surprising mildness. “Except blow your nose.” She stroked Cerise’s hair, waiting patiently while the Princess honked and snorted and whimpered, before she finally said, “Darling, your father is not your problem. I’ll deal with your father. The problem is Prince Reginald himself- or am I wrong? For goodness’ sake, girl, not on your sleeve!”

Princess Cerise sniffled. “Mother, I know he likes me. We go walking in the gardens, and he tells me all his adventures, and all about life at King Krije’s court, and what ladies are wearing there, and he recites poetry, and he’s just as sweet and…and chivalrous as he can be – “

“But no further than that,” said Queen Helene. “That’s where it ends.” The Princess nodded miserably. The Queen said, “Well. You have to remember, dear, Reginald’s going to be king after Krije dies, if the dreadful man ever does. And he’s going to rule over a much larger, much wealthier, much more important land than our little Bellemontagne. No, let’s face it, Cerise – “ for her daughter had begun to interrupt patriotically – “compared to Corvinia we’re a backwater, a bump in the road. And naturally Reginald has no idea whether you’re capable of being the sort of companion he will need when he ascends the throne. Here, in your home, you are still a child; there, you would have as great a responsibility as he. Greater, if you ask me.”

“Mother, I know I could be what he needs!” Princess Cerise cried out, passionately clasping her hands at her breast. “I just know I could!”

“Could you? He will rule the land, but you will have to rule the castle – which is twice the task, believe me. You will have to be a royal hostess, managing more noble guests in a week than your father and I see in a year’s time. You will be overseeing kitchens bigger than our Great Hall – you will supervise servants who outnumber our army – you will be hounded endlessly, morning and night, by maddening hordes of people begging you to intercede with your husband on their behalf. And on top of that, Reginald will be expecting you to be his partner, his trusted adviser – “ she paused for a significant moment – “his playmate, his lover, the mother of his children… all that, at all times, at a moment’s notice. Are you prepared for such a life, my Cerise? My little girl?”

“Yes, Mother,” the Princess answered quietly. “Yes, I am sure I am.”

Queen Helene studied her daughter for a long moment, and then reached out to take her into her arms. “Well, then, we will simply have to explain to Prince Reginald that he cannot live without you. Don’t worry about it anymore, dear – I did the same thing with your father. You just have to make them understand.”


From: Unclefox
Sent: Saturday, January 20, 2007 8:15 AM
To: Connor Freff Cochran
Subject: Prince Reginald’s Proposal

Would this be approximately it? Bear in mind that Mortmain obviously wrote it out and made him memorize it. Of course, there’s no way it goes in in one lump. There have to be reactions, and even comments, whether spoken or internal. Hope it’ll do.



“Majesty – ah – Majesties. For all your kind and gracious forbearance, it cannot have escaped your notice that I am but an uncouth, unlettered prince from a poor backcountry kingdom, so far below your beautiful Bellemontagne in the world’s esteem as to be all but invisible. That one such as I should dare to lift his barbarian eyes to such as your daughter Cerise strikes even this vulgar crowned peasant as absurdity piled on grotesquerie – truly, I can hardly believe it as I hear my own voice, and I feel that I must make petition for your pardon before speaking any further.

“But I am not here to sue for her hand this morning. Love, however misplaced and misbegotten, has made me abysmally foolish, but not that abysmally foolish. Word has been brought to me of a plague of dragons ravaging the rich southland fields that lie between your great kingdom and our humbler realm. I am come, therefore, with the purpose of raising a fighting force to go forth and destroy the vile worms utterly before they make they way here to do even more dreadful damage. I would hope to march at the head of an army of your bravest warriors – but I assure you that I will go alone, if I must. What one man can do against a host, that I will do, and this I swear.

“Afterwards…afterwards, should I survive, perhaps Your Majesties will consider considering me worthy…”

(He does not finish, but bows his head humbly)


There’s a lot more I could share, but I’ll stop here.

I suspect this news about the creation and real authorship of DRAGONS might be upsetting, and I apologize for that. But truth is truth. Peter has been lying about who I am and what I’ve done for close to nine years now, for greedy reasons. I’m not going to let him steal the credit for my ideas and writing on top of that.

If you have any questions, I am happy to answer them via email ( ) or phone (206-636-1985).

All best,

Connor Cochran

Susanne D'nim

If Peter has been lying so egregiously you should take the matter to court. Oh wait… something like that already happened:

The whole fraud thing kinda makes the disbelief-suspension a little difficult.

N Shipstead

It is already heading in that direction. The truth of what’s actually going on since 2015 is going to come out and you’ll discover it had nothing to do with elder abuse. It was about greed and has been for years. Their intent was to destroy someone with their lies. Oh so many lies in oh so many places

N Shipstead

And just to let you know, the book at this time has been pulled from the UK release. Amazon US has pulled the Kindle edition and the paperback.

Connor Cochran

Hi, Suzanne. Thank you for bringing the lawsuit up, because doing so gives me a chance to share a bunch of facts that aren’t in the link you posted, and which you and most people don’t know. But before I do that, in this reply I’m going to address a different point — the part you refer to as “the whole fraud thing.”

During the partial trial that took place in the fall of 2018, Peter’s attorney presented no evidence of fraud. Absolutely none. What she did, instead, was call three witnesses to the stand who *claimed* there was fraud…but then couldn’t back up their testimony with documentation.

Two of them did try, admittedly, but their “proof” fell apart. Here are the details.

The first witness who alleged fraud was an accounting company employee. He had been given a cherry-picked set of six or seven documents by Peter’s attorney — none of them operating records, by the way — and then asked to analyze their contents. The “smoking gun” that indicated fraud, according to this witness, was one document which he said showed me trying to buy various Beagle intellectual properties for less than they were worth. Sounds bad, right? As it turns out, not so much. On cross-examination the witness learned that he had gotten it all wrong. The document was, in fact, an investor pitch that Peter and I had created together and were using to try and raise funds to buy back story rights Peter had sold off years before he ever met me. In other words, the document wasn’t about buying things FROM Peter, it was about returning things TO him. (To this witness’s credit, once he realized he’d gotten it wrong he said he now saw no evidence of fraud.)

The second witness was a Hollywood executive who was offered to the court as a “forensic accounting expert.” This guy had reviewed the complete history of all the relevant bank accounts, and written a detailed report on what he had found. His testimony was that he felt there was fraud going on because he had seen some highly suspicious transactions. When asked to be more specific, he cited three things: (1) the company paying $50,000+ to buy Peter a complete set of oral implants; (2) the company paying for a trip I took to Hawaii; and (c) several “obviously illegitimate” checks written to “a school in the Philippines.”

This guy didn’t just flame out on cross-examination — his testimony practically exploded.

First, he turned out to have no forensic accounting training. He was just a plain ordinary CPA, which no court would ever accept as a “forensic accounting expert.”

Second, he had a major conflict of interest. He had provided all his analysis for free — work he estimated came to $70,000 in billable hours — while acting as the business partner of the person that Peter wanted to be his new rep in Hollywood. Far from being a disinterested neutral party, this guy would immediately profit if the court’s decision went Peter’s way.

Third, there was a $900,000 cumulative error (!) on the first page of his report (!!). This trained CPA had goofed and listed a $300,000 liability (the outside investment that backed THE LAST UNICORN Screening Tour) as two separate $300,000 pieces of income. To show just how bizarrely wrong this was, imagine hiring someone to prepare your taxes who then lists your remaining car loan debt as taxable income…twice.

Finally, his three cited examples all crumbled into dust on cross-examination. The oral implant surgery that took Peter from having three teeth left in his mouth to a full, beautiful smile again? Turns out this witness’s objection was not to having the work done, but to paying for it directly instead of through a company medical insurance plan…though when pressed he admitted that he knew of no insurance provider that would give a two-shareholder, no-employee, low-income company a dental plan providing such coverage. Then, when asked about the Hawaii trip, he had to admit that (a) in the entertainment business it is common practice for companies to supply vacation benefits as a perk to executives, and (b) he had somehow completely missed the THREE European trips that Peter had taken on the company dime. But the funniest bit, by far, was the “school in the Philippines” debacle. When asked to identify the payments he was referring to, he pointed to checks for about $17,000 that were written to “Fountain International.” To figure out where the money was going he Googled that name, and all the hits he got were for the Fountain International School, a private K-12 educational institution in Manila. Since there was clearly no reason for the company to be paying money to such an entity, it HAD to be for some devious, fraudulent purpose, right? Unfortunately for him, he hadn’t bothered to look at the BACK of the checks, which clearly showed them being cashed in San Francisco, just across the bay from the courtroom. If he had Googled “Fountain International” and “San Francisco” together he would have found a completely legitimate consulting company named Fountain International, and if he had called them (or asked me) before jumping to conclusions he would have learned that Peter and I had hired Fountain International to do a bunch of rights research and cleanup work for us in Japan, all related to the making of the animated LAST UNICORN back in the ‘80s. (This work had been a crucial part of me winning a six-figure settlement for Peter in 2011.)

That guy left the courtroom in literal red-faced embarrassment, and his testimony and “analysis” weren’t allowed into evidence.

The third witness who alleged fraud was Peter himself. Under questioning from his attorney, Peter testified that forming our IP company in 2008 was entirely my idea, and something that I’d sprung on him with no particular warning or explanation. He also said that I never told him he only owned 50% of the business, and that he would never have agreed to be part of any such deal if he had known. Finally, he testified that I had kept his ownership percentage secret from him for seven years, and that he only found out the truth when his lawyer got that information out of me in 2015.

None of that was true. Peter and I had been discussing how different possible business structures might suit his needs from literally our first breakfast meeting about solving his problems, back in 2002. Then, starting in 2003, Harlan Ellison had been telling Peter that he HAD to incorporate, same as Harlan had done. The trigger from discussion to action came when Peter’s mother died, and Peter became locked in a huge battle with his brother over her estate. Peter was incredibly angry at his brother, and was adamant that we had to come up with a business structure that would keep Peter’s creations from ever falling into his brother’s hands, should Peter die first. We then spent TWO YEARS coming up with an incorporation plan to do just that. This plan went through at least five different versions along the way as potential investors expressed interest in being part of the company. During this period Peter was in every meeting, and was cc’ed or bcc’ed on every discussion email. He also had his own attorney monitoring the discussions and advising him, and he talked about it with Harlan and other writer fiends and the person who did his taxes.

So the notion that anything was ever hidden from Peter was ludicrous. But under cross-examination Peter simply denied that any of the stuff I just shared with you had ever taken place.

He even said that he had never had ANY dispute with his brother, which was petty amazing given that four different lawyers had been involved, there were multiple court hearings, and I’d spent literally thousands of hours between 2006 and 2015 helping Peter deal with the mess. (Things were so bad between them that Peter and his brother couldn’t agree on what to do with their mother’s ashes. Peter wound up asking me to separate her ashes into equal amounts, in two matching funerary containers, to deal with the problem.)

Under normal circumstances Peter’s false testimony would have been easy to deal with: all we had to do was show the court relevant emails and paperwork from the two years of planning.

The circumstances, however, were not normal. All the counter-evidence predated the filing of the incorporation papers, obviously…but at the beginning of the trial Peter’s attorney had persuaded the judge to bar the defense from entering any documents which predated that filing. And yes, I know this sounds nuts — Peter’s claim was that the corporation was a fraud designed to steal his work from him, so evidence showing how and why the corporation was formed, and what Peter knew during that period, would obviously be relevant. Barring all that would be absurd. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what the judge did.

I have shared this with dozens of lawyers since the partial trial, and every one of them has been flabbergasted. The one who summed it up best said “It’s like you were accused of shoplifting, but the judge wouldn’t let you show him your store receipt.”

In my own testimony, of course, I SAID all the things I have reported here, and a lot more. But I wasn’t allowed to enter any documents supporting my statements. So it was just Peter’s word against mine.

The partial trial did not end in the normal way. Instead of verbal closing statements from both sides, the judge asked for written ones.

And then things got really weird, because after reviewing the written closing statements the judge asked Peter’s attorney to file more papers. There were several rounds of this, and my lawyer friends finally told me “Peter’s attorney didn’t make her case, but the judge has bought into her false story line. He feels sorry for Peter and wants to give him something, so he is offering her all these extra bites at the apple. You need to prepare for a bad outcome here.”

And so it went. A full NINE MONTHS after the partial trial, the judge finally issued his decision. In it he said that Peter’s memory was obviously unreliable and pretty much nothing he said at the trial could be taken as true…BUT…despite this monumental disclaimer, the judge also decided that Peter’s claim that I’d hidden his ownership share was credible.

And there you have it — the purported fraud the judge found me liable for was that I supposedly never told Peter he only owned half of our company. No evidence was ever entered to support this astonishing claim. The judge just decided to take Peter at his word.

But that doesn’t mean Peter told the truth.

Luckily for me, five years later there is something I can do about this miscarriage of justice.

Right now the scorecard on Beagle v Cochran is as follows: I was the prevailing party on 11 of the claims that were made against me, one claim was withdrawn by Peter’s attorney before the trial, and I was the losing party on four. But after the judgment was announced, people who knew the truth came forward with proof that these four claims were wrongly decided. In particular, I was given copies of documents that Peter SHOULD have handed over in discovery, but didn’t — documents which prove that he’d known about our 50/50 ownership from the beginning.

Under the California Code of Civil Procedures, there is a method for bringing evidence to the court’s attention if a judgment was achieved through presenting false information and withholding discoverable evidence. Shortly I will be doing so. And while I hope that the court will look at this evidence and correct its mistake, even if that doesn’t happen it will be okay — because I will be able to point folks like you to public docket records where you will be able to look at the actual records for yourself.

Thanks for reading this far, Suzanne. Further important truthful information coming in Part 2.

Connor Cochran

Apologies, Susanne. Autocorrect changed the spelling of your name and I didn’t catch it before posting. Sorry about that.

Connor Cochran

Hi again, Susanne. Now for Part 2.

The lawsuit that Peter’s attorney filed in 2015 was what lawyers call a “strike” suit. (Definition: “A strike suit is a lawsuit of questionable merit brought by a single person or group of people with the purpose of gaining a private settlement before going to court that would be less than the cost of the defendant’s legal costs.”]

At this point the obvious question is “Why would Peter Beagle file a lawsuit of questionable merit?” And the answer is: (1) he was persuaded to do so by greedy outsiders who were taking advantage of his medical issues to exert undue influence on him, and (2) he succumbed to greed himself.

Back when we’d started working together in 2002, there wasn’t any money to fight over. Peter was more than $200k in debt, he hadn’t filed his taxes in years and the IRS was mad at him, his house was in foreclosure and had been scheduled for auction, his annual royalty income from all his writing had dropped to under $15k, and his second wife was divorcing him because he had cheated on her throughout their marriage.

In 2015, after 14 years of me spending 50+ hours a week fixing Peter’s problems and then building our shared business together, things were a lot better. More than 40 new pieces of “Peter S. Beagle” fiction had been published, he’d won the Nebula and Hugo Awards, the LAST UNICORN graphic novel was a NY Times Bestseller, we were putting on sold-out screenings of THE LAST UNICORN all over the country with Peter as the star attraction, for the previous 5 years he had made $70-100k a year (or more), and we were in the middle of three different multimillion-dollar LAST UNICORN negotiations: (1) a live-action film franchise; (2) a Broadway musical; and (3) a rights reunification deal with ITV plc, the big English media conglomerate that owns the animated LAST UNICORN film.

There was a LOT of potential money on the table, and unfortunately some of the folks around Peter wanted to get hold of it for themselves.

One of these people was Peter’s emotionally and physically abusive live-in girlfriend. This woman was why Peter was chronically broke. No matter how much money we brought in for him — and by the beginning of 2015 his income from all sources was $10-12k a month — the girlfriend would burn through it and demand more. (NOTE: She is out of the picture now, thank goodness. Just after Peter filed the lawsuit she persuaded him to marry her using a California Confidential Marriage license, in order to keep the marriage a secret from Peter’s kids, who would have tried to prevent it. But in the spring of 2017 she was arrested by the Oakland Police for assaulting Peter, and in 2018 the marriage was dissolved.)

Then there was Peter’s attorney. Back in 2011 this lawyer had done an estate plan for Peter which had more than 50 factual and legal errors in it, including showing him owning stock he did not own, and listing his abusive girlfriend as his ex-wife (while completely leaving out his actual ex-wife, whom Peter still owed money from their divorce settlement). It had taken us a year-and-a-half to clean up the mess that document created and replace it with something both accurate and legal. Now the same attorney was back, and she clearly saw taking over Peter’s affairs as a way to jump overnight from doing $600 boilerplate wills to negotiating Hollywood and Broadway deals.

The other people directing the lawsuit turned out to be my two associates in the deal negotiations. For 18 months after the suit was filed they pretended to help me deal with this craziness, while in fact they were behind the whole thing because they saw it as their best way to get rid of me and take over. Nice people!

How I learned they were running the lawsuit was wild. After 18 months of “helping” me, the former film agent who’d been my second in command in the deal negotiations called to say that Lionsgate wanted to make the LAST UNICORN movie, and J. J. Abrams wanted to direct it, but that no one could even start talking while the lawsuit was live. Was there any way, she asked, to get it to go away? After some discussion she suggested a mediation between me and Peter, with herself as the neutral mediator. To my great surprise Peter’s attorney agreed to the idea right away, so we scheduled a date to hold the mediation in my attorney’s San Francisco office. During the run up to the mediation my “friend” asked me many questions about what I would and would not be willing to agree to, and also asked for various documents showing the financial/commercial history of THE LAST UNICORN. Then, the night before the session, she called my wife and asked her to persuade me to accept a walk-away deal. My wife, bless her, refused. (The former agent also tried to swear my wife to secrecy about the call, something else my wife refused to go along with.)

The mediation session was a bad joke. It lasted six hours and achieved nothing. On every point of discussion, Peter and his attorney refused to bend at all, and my supposedly-neutral mediator pushed me to give up more ground so they might say yes. In the end the proposed deal on the table would have paid just half my legal bills, left me with no share of ownership in anything I’d spent the last 15 years building, permanently buried the truth of my co-authorship with Peter, and would have required a public statement tacitly agreeing to all the lies in Peter’s lawsuit. I said no, apologized to my lawyer for wasting his time, and left.

Three days later my unhelpful “mediator” called my attorney and left a message saying that she had used all her available political capital to keep the Lionsgate deal open for another 24 hours, and could he PLEASE persuade me to say yes to Friday’s mediation proposal. That message didn’t match with what she had told me two weeks earlier, so I called her…and that’s when she confessed the following:

1) She’d been negotiating the Lionsgate/Abrams LAST UNICORN deal for the previous six months.

2) It was a done deal. All the terms were locked in. Peter and his attorney knew what they were going to get, she and the numbers guy were on board as producers with a $750k fee, ITV had agreed, everything was settled.

3) But Lionsgate wouldn’t commit while the lawsuit was still live. Hence the “mediation” trick she had pulled.

As you can probably imagine, I terminated that call with some angry language.

One last note. Around a year later I learned that she had lied to me about ITV agreeing to the Lionsgate deal. Very much the opposite — when the exec in charge at ITV saw that she and the numbers guy had inserted themselves as the film’s producers, he told them a flat NO and cut off all communications.

And this wildly dishonest person is, right now, in charge of Peter Beagle’s life and his business. It’s mindboggling to think about.

[SLIGHT DETOUR: the “numbers guy” mentioned just above was the Hollywood exec/CPA who flamed out so disastrously as a witness in the partial trial. His partner, the false friend and fake mediator, also came up to testify for Peter’s side…but after the numbers guy detonated on the stand she vanished from the courthouse and could not be found when it was her turn to be called. She never did testify.]

Now that you know the cast of characters, let’s get back to the strike suit.

The biggest obstacle to their takeover plan was the jointly-owned IP company that had been formed in January 2008. After Avicenna Development Corporation was established, Peter and I transferred all our individual and jointly-created IP into the company. (This had been important to do: without the corporate structure we’d never have gotten Peter the unpaid royalties settlement deal with ITV in 2011, nor would any of 2015’s multimillion-dollar deal negotiations have been happening.) To take over, this unethical crew had to get Peter’s IP out of the company…and there was no legitimate shareholder complaint which could do that. Even if something shady HAD been going on in the company — which there wasn’t — thanks to the California statute of limitations any complaint would have been years too late to file. This left them with a single Hail Mary option — a strike suit with a concocted story so ugly that Peter’s fans would rise up and smite me; and which would be so damaging to my personal and professional reputation that it would (1) make it hard for me to earn money to pay for my defense, and (2) put a lot of pressure on me to yield and give them what they wanted in order to make the whole thing go away.

Imaging a sleazy divorce attorney convincing a client to falsely accuse their spouse of child abuse, because the accusation itself is so heinous that it will provide lots of negotiating leverage. That is exactly what happened here with the false accusations of fraud and elder abuse.

It might have worked, except for the following:

1) I’m not the kind of person to yield in the face of a false accusation, no matter how much fighting for the truth winds up costing. (To quote Tim Allen/Jason Nesmith/Peter Quincy Taggart, “Never give up! Never surrender!”)

2) Too many people around Peter knew the facts and weren’t fooled. His three children have publicly supported me, not their dad, since this began, and two of them testified as defense witnesses at the trial (the third wanted to but could not because of a health issue).

3) I’ve been active in fandom since 1970, and nobody who knew me well ever believed the nonsense.

4) Most people in my professional world knew it was b.s. To quote one Hollywood executive, “I know an I-want-to-get-out-of-my-contract lawsuit when I see one.”


You probably don’t know that just a few weeks after Peter sued me and the companies, the LAST UNICORN screening tour investor sued me and the companies as well. What was even more interesting, his lawyers made a lot of the same allegations and even used a bunch of the same language as in the Beagle lawsuit. Clearly it had been hatched in collusion with Peter’s attorney.

This second lawsuit was over pretty quickly. My lawyer filed our response papers, and in the very first hearing the judge threw out 98% of everything, leaving only one small technical issue to resolve at a later date. As for me personally, I was entirely exonerated, and dismissed as a defendant. Which felt great.

It was absolutely clear that the investor was going to lose on the final technical point, as well, so he agreed to mediate a settlement. Doing so felt appropriate to me. If I was the scoundrel that Peter’s team claims, I would have just waited and let the court kill the rest of the investor’s lawsuit, since that would have allowed the companies to legally refuse to pay him back. But that would have been ethically wrong, so we came to terms that gave the companies time to try and come up with alternate ways to repay him.

After that lawsuit was over, the investor admitted to me why he had filed it. Turns out that Peter’s attorney had told him ITV was going to pay Peter good money to drop Beagle v Cochran, since the bad publicity was interfering with live action LAST UNICORN film negotiations. According to him, she suggested that if he sued me, then ITV would have to pay him off too. ITV, of course, never made any such offer to anyone. But I have no problem believing that Peter’s attorney told the investor a false story in order to get him to put more legal pressure on me and generally support their defamation campaign. That fits her known patterns.


There are lots of specific examples in the partial trial and its lengthy aftermath which demonstrate that the judge was biased against me. And I know exactly how that bias came to be.

Both sides issued a lot of discovery demands on the other, but both sides were not equally responsive. The companies and I handed over 108,000 pages of documents and a bunch of videos, while Peter and his attorney handed over slightly less than 2,000 pages, most of which repeated things we’d also given them. Peter was INCREDIBLY unresponsive — for just one example, we issued a discovery demand for any Beagle bank records which showed me or the companies depositing money into one of his bank accounts. This is something that happened several hundred times between 2002 and 2015, so Peter should have turned over a lot of bank statements. He gave us just one.

Meanwhile, Peter’s attorney demanded that my lawyer specify the exact source of each document we turned over. Was it from me, or from Conlan Press, or from Avicenna, or some varying mix of these three defendants? My attorney pointed out that there was no court rule requiring anything like that with discovery documents. Peter’s attorney was just trying to drive up my legal bill by making him do a lot of unnecessary extra work, and my lawyer refused to play along.

Even though we’d already turned over 35 times the documents that Peter had, with more coming regularly, Peter’s attorney amped the pressure by filing a motion asking the court to sanction us because production wasn’t going faster. Just before the hearing on this motion, my former lawyer had to move on and a new lawyer came in to handle my defense. Peter’s attorney was fully aware that my new guy hadn’t been able to consult with the previous lawyer yet, so she took advantage of this by deliberately lying to the judge.

I know that is an extreme statement, but I stand by it. I was in the courtroom and heard her. With a straight face and complete sincerity she told the judge that my former lawyer hadn’t turned over ANY documents from the companies, and that, in fact, he had refused to do so unless ordered by the court. It was all I could do to keep myself from jumping up and shouting “THAT’S A LIE!”

The judge asked my new lawyer if this was true, and since he had no idea he couldn’t answer.

From that moment on, the judge believed that I was an asshole who was abusing the legal system. This false belief worked against me again and again.

I did my best to fix things by having my former lawyer write a memo to the judge that corrected the record and made plain that he’d never said anything like that to Peter’s attorney. But the damage was already done. The judge now believed that the side which handed over 108,000 pages of discovery documents was bad, while the side that was ACTUALLY stonewalling discovery was one with the angels.

To be frank, this exposes a serious weakness in the judicial system. Lawyers are officially “officers of the court,” and under the rules they have what is called “a duty of candor to the tribunal” — i.e., they are supposed to tell the truth to the judge, and it is generally presumed that they do. Which sounds great in theory, but it allows someone like Peter’s attorney, who has no qualms about lying, to get away with a lot.


Even with all that, I would have still won every claim in the partial Beagle v Cochran trial (instead of just two our of six) if a medical emergency hadn’t changed the course of events.

Not long before the trial was scheduled to start, my lawyer’s father had a massive stroke. Overnight the poor guy had to apologize to all his clients, shut down his practice, and become his dad’s full-time caregiver. That meant I had to find a new lawyer and bring him up to speed, something every lawyer I spoke with said would take at least 4-5 months.

The judge gave me six weeks.

That proved impossible…so on my birthday in October 2018 I stepped into the Alameda County Superior Court as my own defense attorney.

It is safe to say that while I am reasonably intelligent, and had force-fed myself a whole bunch of Nolo Press defend-yourself-in-court books, I was at a severe disadvantage in the trial. I did better than might otherwise have been expected because Peter’s claims were so weak and his witnesses were even weaker, but I didn’t know enough to find procedural ways around the judge’s bias, so I couldn’t get my exculpatory documents onto the record. A real lawyer could have managed that easily. A real lawyer would also have known how to cross-examine Peter in a way that would have exposed his false statements.

Someday I am going to write a book about my entire experience with Peter, from start to finish. And the trial section is going to be both very sad and very funny, because that’s exactly what it was.


Now that you know a bunch more about the legal nonsense portion of this story, I want to close with the real point.

Whether I’m a bad person or not is irrelevant. What happened at the partial trial is irrelevant (fascinating, but irrelevant). Neither of those things has anything with who created I’M AFRAID YOU’VE GOT DRAGONS, or whether Peter is trying to take credit for more than 100 pages of book that he did not write.

On this topic I’m telling the truth, with more than 3000 pages of proof and plenty of witnesses to back me. Meanwhile Peter has nothing on his side but chutzpah and a team of people who stand to lose a lot if their last 10 years of lies are exposed.

And that’s reality.


And yet the court still found you liable for fraud.

Connor Cochran

Hi, Spider.

I prevailed on 11 of the 15 claims that Peter’s lawyer filed against me. Peter prevailed on the other four by lying under oath, and withholding documents during discovery that would have allowed me to prove he was lying.

Specifically, Peter testified at trial that at no time between 2006 and 2015 did I ever tell him he only owned 50% of our joint company. That would seem ludicrous on its face — especially given that we spent two years talking about incorporating before we finally did it, Peter had his own lawyer helping him during the talks, and he was in every meeting where all the details were being hashed out — but nevertheless, the judge bought the lie. WHY he bought the lie when he also, in his ruling, said that Peter was an unreliable witness? To get the answer to that you would have to ask the judge.

After the judgment was handed down, however, witnesses came forward with emails and other documents which proved Peter had always known we were 50-50 owners, and that he also withheld those documents during discovery instead of handing them over like he was supposed to.

Because of this I am about to file a special motion with the court that will put this withheld evidence on the public record, while asking the court to vacate the judgment because it was obtained through intentional misrepresentation.

In any case, what happened with that judge has no bearing on the question of who did or did not create and write IAYGD. If you or anyone else wants to see the same 3,000-plus pages of proof that was sent to the publishers, just email and ask for it. Then you can see the truth with your own eyes.


I work in the legal field. Over the years I’ve spoken to many, many potential clients who sound and present themselves exactly as you do, and I’m grateful for that; if your sort were more subtle or discreet in your narcissism–if you ever thought to play a single card close to your chest, rather than to launch repeatedly into mile-a-minute diatribes about how everyone but you has the facts wrong and your accusers are in fact the ones victimizing you–it might take us longer to realize how bad of an idea it would be to represent you.

There’s an old saw in our field you’ve no doubt heard, about the man who represents himself in court and the sort of person he has for a client. If your grasp of the legal system and its intricacies are in fact at the level of ineptitude your previous comments indicate, you’re doing a great job of demonstrating that saying’s veracity.

Regardless, you’ve been keeping up this song and dance for years and I don’t expect anything I say to change it. But you were known as a liar, a cozener and a snake-oil man in the SFF field long, LONG before your fraud verdict was handed down–ask anybody who placed an order from Conlan Press–and no matter how fast you talk you’re not going to outrun that. It’s transparent that you’re doing this because it chaps your ass that your meal ticket got out from under your thumb, so you’re doing your damnedest to undercut what’s left of his legacy out of spite. You’ve gambled that an 82-year-old man doesn’t have enough gas left in the tank financially or emotionally to sue you again, and congratulations, you’re probably right–but the community doesn’t forget, Connor.

Connor Cochran

Hello again, Spider.

[I work in the legal field.]

If you do, then you are in an excellent position to evaluate the accuracy of the 3,000+ pages of evidence that I sent to Simon & Schuster and Gollancz, and which I offered to share with you. So why not try that? Indeed, if I was the person you claim I am, you should be leaping to take me up on it, because then you could expose my mendacity by ripping my “evidence” to shreds in public.

The fact that you aren’t willing to look makes it likely that you are afraid of finding out that you are wrong.

Which is okay. Peter is clearly a beloved figure to you, and it can be upsetting when deeply-held beliefs are challenged. But your emotional reaction says nothing about the accuracy or inaccuracy of what I have shared here.

Please consider the following interesting questions.

1) “Peter’s team” told Gollancz that in the long history of the Beagle v Cochran lawsuit I never showed any evidence to support my claim that I created and co-authored IAYGD. After Gollancz shared this assertion, I immediately sent them the 2,880-page Bates-numbered IAGYD file that I had given to Peter’s attorney seven years ago, in response to one of her BvC discovery demands. Gollancz shared the file with Peter’s team…and then, according to Gollancz, Peter’s team abruptly stopped responding to Gollancz’s queries. How do you explain either their original false statement or their subsequent silence?

2) If there’s no truth to my position, then why has Amazon (in at least three countries, so far) been taking down their IAYGD offerings and sending out notices cancelling preorders?

3) Peter’s three children know him very well indeed. Certainly much better than you do! Yet when he sued me in 2015 his kids took my side in the dispute, not their father’s, and nearly nine years later their position has not changed. How do you explain this?

[if your sort were more subtle or discreet in your narcissism…it might take us longer to realize how bad of an idea it would be to represent you.]

I realize that these posts have been a tad long, but that’s because there is a lot to share. And they certainly aren’t long compared to actual legal filings. Nor are they “mile-a-minute” — quite evenly-paced, actually, and not at all breathless. Much more Joe Friday than Ace Ventura.

As for it being a bad idea for lawyers to represent me, it is true that I have been in a handful of legal conflicts…but the ONLY one I have ever lost is the partial trial in Beagle v Cochran, and even there I only lost…well, partially. I prevailed on two of the six claims that were at issue, which is not a bad score for a non-lawyer forced by circumstances to defend himself with only six weeks to read up on trial procedure.

Plus — as has been pointed out — this is not over. Peter and his lawyer prevailed on those four claims by lying to the court and withholding documents that would have allowed me to demonstrate their dishonesty. Luckily, the California Code of Civil Procedures offers mechanisms for dealing with stuff like that. So we’ll see what happens. The (metaphorical) jury is still out.

[There’s an old saw in our field you’ve no doubt heard, about the man who represents himself in court and the sort of person he has for a client.]

No disagreeing with you on this one. Not only am I a fool, I am a professional fool, because I am a graduate of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. (Class of ’74. I got to learn wire-walking from Philippe Petit, which was pretty nifty.)

But by your own definition…doesn’t my being a fool just make it even more remarkable that I prevailed on anything at all? That outcome tends to support the general idea that I was telling the truth, and Peter and his attorney weren’t.

A reminder: I didn’t choose to represent myself. My lawyer’s dad had a massive stroke and he had to shutter his entire practice overnight to take care of him. While I would certainly have preferred to have a real attorney there instead of having to handle the partial trial myself, I did the best I could in unfortunate circumstances and am not grousing about it. It was highly educational.

[But you were known as a liar, a cozener and a snake-oil man in the SFF field long, LONG before your fraud verdict was handed down–ask anybody who placed an order from Conlan Press]

Facts are stubborn things. Conlan Press delivered hundreds of thousands of products to customers between 2008 and 2018, and it produced a LAST UNICORN Screening Tour that put on more than 300 shows in 153 locations in the USA and Canada over a two-year period. Undelivered CP products accounted for only .3% of the orders that came in during that decade, and those were only undelivered because Peter’s lawsuit prevented their completion.

Those are the real numbers, Spider. It’s not a perfect track record, but by Better Business Bureau standards it would qualify for an A+ rating. And there’s not a bit of snake oil in it.

[It’s transparent that you’re doing this because it chaps your ass that your meal ticket got out from under your thumb, so you’re doing your damnedest to undercut what’s left of his legacy out of spite.]

The disconnect from reality in that sentence is profound.

My career, both before and after working with Peter, has been just fine. I have a long and credible CV as an illustrator, graphic designer, art director, writer, editor, performer, producer, business consultant, songwriter, lyricist, composer, and a bunch of other things. I was a BBC computer science reporter for four years. I’ve sold every piece of fiction I’ve ever written, including an F&SF cover story (my first sale) and getting into the special Stephen King issue of WHISPERS. I’ve sold more than two million words of professional nonfiction, including a 14-year run writing an award-winning essay series on creativity for KEYBOARD magazine. I was good friends with Carl Sagan and Kelly Freas and Ray Bradbury. I have scored a NOVA program for PBS, written owners’ manuals for a dozen different synthesizers and music software packages, and performed on the streets, on stage, and in some national television commercials. As an SF artist I’ve illustrated Leiber, Zelazny, Varley, Haldeman, Tiptree, and other greats, and was one of the select few invited participants in the NASA-Smithsonian Art Program at the Kennedy Space Center. As a space journalist I covered three Apollo and Skylab launches, the recovery of the Skylab Three crew, the Apollo-Soyuz launch, and events at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory when Viking landed on Mars. (Footnote to that one: I had a flute with me, and let out some celebratory riffs that were recorded by the CBC reporter on site. Years later, that audio file made it onto the VISIONS OF MARS DVD-ROM that was attached to NASA’s Phoenix Lander, so since 2008 there have been 0s and 1s of my improvised music sitting on the surface of Mars. Which is way cool.)

These days I’m heavily occupied as creative director for companies working in publishing, fine arts, gaming, and film and television production. Juggling the workload is challenging, but I am getting to collaborate with amazing people on exciting projects, so professionally I have no complaints…except for the one about Peter Beagle falsely claiming my writing as his own.

[You’ve gambled that an 82-year-old man doesn’t have enough gas left in the tank financially or emotionally to sue you again, and congratulations, you’re probably right–but the community doesn’t forget, Connor.]

First, Peter will be 85 this April 20th, not 82…but I’m not exactly a pollywog either, since I’ll be 70 in October. Age, however, is irrelevant here. Being in your 80s does not constitute a free pass for plagiarism.

Second, Peter doesn’t have any grounds for suing me, because I’m telling the truth. Since you work in the legal profession, you know that truth is an absolute defense against defamation.

Third, Peter’s handlers have plenty of money, and they are much younger than Peter. If this issue does get to a court someday, they’ll have LOTS more financial resources to put into any battle than I will.

But I don’t think it’s going to come to that.

The offer to share the proof documents is still open, Spider. And when this is finally behind us, and the truth I’ve shared about IAYGD’s creation and co-authorship has been verified — either by Peter confessing or a court confirming — I would be happy to buy you a coffee and chat in person. I suspect the conversation would be a revelation for both of us.

Last edited 3 months ago by Connor Cochran

Previously I submitted an uncivil reply, but whether by God’s will or mod’s the post has vanished. I do apologize, in either case. What I ought to have said was this:

You will, I hope, pardon me for not taking a man’s word at face value–or his several thousand words, as the case may be–when he’s been found liable by a judge for defamation, fraud, and elder abuse. Yes, even when he insists–as only an innocent man could or would, of course-that the verdict was handed down only due to dishonesty and corruption.

You will also, I hope, forgive me for doubting the good faith of that man’s argument when he appears to insist that the most likely reason I have for declining to peruse a 3,000 page document in my spare time is fear of the revelations it may contain, and not that it is a 3,000 page document, and my spare time. If that man would like to pay me to engage in document review, as my employer does, I am under no non-compete agreement, so I’m free to accept freelance work; my rate is $50 an hour, though in cases where my prospective client has previously been found liable for breach of fiduciary duty I hope he will understand when I insist he pays in cash.

Finally, I hope you will not hold it against me that I am posting a link to the Statement of Decision by Hon. Michael Markman in the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, in the case of Beagle v. Cochran, finding that Peter Beagle proved his claims against Connor Cochran for financial elder abuse, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and defamation (fraud), and that Connor Cochran did not prove his affirmative defenses. That judge’s decision can be found here:

That, then, as the poet said, is all I’ve got to say. Adieu.

Connor Cochran

Hi, Spider.

I’ve never said that the judge did not find me liable on four of the six claims that were in the partial trial. But judges are human beings, and they can get things wrong. That is what happened here. What I have tried to share on this page are some of the REASONS why the judge got it wrong. Reading the judgment you linked to does not provide the entire story.

Here’s an example. The judge makes reference to a document that valued Peter’s works at $15 billion and (paraphrasing) concludes that I came up with this number on my own, that the number is unbelievably large, and that I was clearly using this extreme valuation to persuade Peter to do what I wanted him to do. None of those conclusions is correct, but without seeing the document in question, no one reading the judge’s words would know that he was misrepresenting it.

Here are the facts.

1) The document, which I have already mentioned above, was drafted in 2006 — two years before the formation of Avicenna — and was a pitch document we were using to try and raise money to produce films and television shows based on Peter’s works, and to buy back rights he had previously sold to people who weren’t accomplishing anything with them.

2) Contrary to the judge’s conclusion, I did not write the document on my own. It was put together by me, Peter, and several film industry consultants we brought in who were experts on production financing and IP valuation. (I did testify to this, but the judge either did not believe me or forgot; and since he had already ruled that I could not introduce any documents from before the formation of the corporation, I was not allowed to show him anything that would prove these outside experts were involved.)

3) Contrary to the judge’s conclusion, the $15 billion number was not unbelievably large. His reaction just demonstrates unfamiliarity with typical numbers in the entertainment and licensing industries. Quoted out of context it may sound huge, but documents like this have high-end and low-end estimates, and it is standard for the high-end estimate formula to assume maximum possible GROSS revenue (not net income) for ALL properties in a catalog over the ENTIRE LIFE of copyright — which, given Peter’s age and health at the time, was reasonably placed at 100 years. That translates to an average of only $150m a year spread among at least 50 possible properties, so now we are down to just $3m a year of gross revenue per property…in a world where a successful property generates way, way more than that. The worldwide gross revenue from Peppa Pig over the last decade, for example, has been more than $11 billion. If one single successful cartoon character can generate that much in just 10 years, it is not extreme — as a high-end potential number — to estimate that 50 times that much IP could generate 1.36 times as much revenue…over a century.

4) Contrary to the judge’s conclusion, I was not using this document to persuade Peter to do anything. We were both using it, together, to try and persuade capital sources to fund our projects.

5) This document had nothing at all to do with forming Avicenna. Nothing! What drove the formation of Avicenna was Peter’s wish to keep his IP out of the hands of his brother after death. But as mentioned just above, I WAS NOT ALLOWED to present any documents which predated the formation of the corporation, so that evidence never got in.

[You will also, I hope, forgive me for doubting the good faith of that man’s argument when he appears to insist that the most likely reason I have for declining to peruse a 3,000 page document in my spare time is fear of the revelations it may contain, and not that it is a 3,000 page document, and my spare time.]

That’s a straw man argument, Spider. It makes for a nice rhetorical flourish, but no more. Here is our situation in simplest form:

— I have asserted that I created I’M AFRAID YOU’VE GOT DRAGONS and wrote 75-80% of the first 11 chapters.

— You say you find this assertion unbelievable because of a legal judgment against me regarding an entirely separate matter. This is a debating trick known as deflection, and you are clearly smart enough to understand what you are doing. Also, since you work in the legal profession, you surely know about Rule 404 from the Federal Rules of Evidence: “Evidence of a person’s character or character trait is not admissible to prove that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character or trait.” In short, the question is not whether I am a good or bad person. The question is whether or not I created IAYGD and wrote 75-80% of the first 11 chapters. In determining the true answer to that question, what happened in the 2018 partial trial is completely irrelevant.

— What IS relevant is direct evidence regarding who created and wrote I’M AFRAID YOU’VE GOT DRAGONS. You have been offered a chance to look at this evidence, and you have refused.

— Your stated reason for doing so is not particularly compelling, because it is obviously not necessary to review all 3,000 pages in order to see the truth. The critical documents in this matter can be reviewed in under five minutes. Ten, tops. You have so far invested much more time than that trying to defend Peter by maligning my character, so your new deflection rings hollow.

It’s tempting to take you up on your offer and pay you $50 to sit still for an hour while I hand you documents to read, but the only way that would work would be in person. And in any case, I don’t really think you were being sincere.

…though if you WERE being sincere, sure. Let’s take this discussion to direct email, work out the logistics, and meet up! I would fly anywhere on planet Earth to do this. And afterwards I could buy you that coffee I previously offered.

But I think I can make it easier on you. Just read on to the end of this comment.

Here is the unedited text of an email I sent Peter on July 8th, 2006:

From: Connor Freff Cochran
Sent: Sat, 8 Jul 2006 10:42:15 -0700
To: ‘Unclefox’
Subject: Possible?

Peter — here are the I’M AFRAID YOU HAVE DRAGONS notes from 1997. We were
aiming at an animated film project, so certain things were tailored. Consider this raw material. If you like it enough to use this as scaffolding, you are also welcome to reject or change anything too.


P.s. You’ll have to drive in and swim around and let the ideas assemble themselves in your subconscious. The “Lefty story search” process is definitely not linear.

[The rest of this email is the 8,000 word transcript of an 11/2/1997 creative session devoted to the DRAGONS idea. I’m not going to include it all here, but I will quote a bit of it in a moment.]

Here is Peter’s response email, also unedited, just a few hours later:

From: Unclefox
Sent: Sat, 8 Jul 2006 15:44:47 -0700
To: Connor Freff Cochran
Subject: “It Feels Good To Sing”
Attachments: IT FEELS GOOD TO SING.DOC.doc

I actually like it. See what you think.

I think I could get a good short YA novel out of the dragon-exterminator material, as long as it didn’t get too complicated. And I think Sharyn would likely go for it…


And there you have it, in just two documents: Peter Beagle did not create I’M AFRAID YOU’VE GOT DRAGONS. I did — and I was pitching the story around Hollywood starting a decade before I brought it to Peter’s attention.

Now for some samples from the 1997 creative session. The way I did these, back then, was that I would have a friend of mine pepper me with story questions, to which I would respond in a mix of out-loud brainstorming and lefthanded automatic writing. Like this…

11/02/97 – 11:32 AM with [Friend] in his home office in [Location]

Friend: Does the dragon exterminator become, or is he, a prince?


Connor out loud: Does the princess spend a lot of the movie going after the prince, only to discover that he’s a schlub, and that she doesn’t really love him? She really loves this guy over here who doesn’t want to be a prince, who isn’t even vaguely interested in being a prince, even if they get together.

Friend: Does the exterminator think until the end that he’d like to be a prince?


Friend: Can we have a working name for the exterminator?


Friend: Mom was right, obviously, about his possibilities in life. Could we have the other major players in the story?


Connor out loud: Get the feeling that the big dragon itself, without the wizard, is not really a threat or menacing. That it is being used to do exactly what it doesn’t want, and would cheerfully leave men alone and go somewhere else where they aren’t, if it had a say in the matter. Just right now though it doesn’t have a say in the matter.

Friend: Is the princess in the process of selecting from suitors?


Connor out loud: She kind of turns into this tyrant who is embarrassed by her parents and the way they live once she sees herself as going after this amazing Reginald, who is just passing through their kingdom. What she doesn’t know is that he has been sent out, by his dad, to GROW UP. To get a little seasoning and experience. Reginald’s dad is extremely disappointed in him, who is all surface and no substance, or at least mostly surface and no substance. So she is deeply embarrassed, because she isn’t a really big princess from a big kingdom, and there is all this stuff they’ve just been letting slide because it was friendly and funky and they kind of liked it that way. Now it doesn’t look very good to her at all. Now that she has her eye on…Reg.

[NOTE: “Reginald” is Teutonic in origin, and means “a powerful leader.”
“Robert” is also Teutonic in origin, and means “one with bright fame.” Lefty
strikes again.]

Friend: Character arc – could you describe the beginning and end movie points for Robert and the princess?




I’ll stop there. Like I said, there is 8,000 words of it, working out the DRAGONS story in great detail.

I handed it all to Peter so he would be up to speed as we worked together, and I gave him another 2,000 words as well at the start (one memo each on story, character, and thematic notes). Those three memos can be downloaded directly from

And now, keeping the contents of that creative session fragment in mind, consider these two pieces of publisher promotional copy.

In 2007, Firebird Books ballyhooed the title this way:

“Dragons are common in the backwater kingdom of Bellemontagne, coming
in sizes from mouse-like vermin all the way up to castle-smashing monsters. Gaius Aurelius Constantine Heliogabalus Thrax (who would much rather people just call him Robert) has recently inherited his deceased dad’s job as
a dragon catcher/exterminator, a career he detests with all his heart — in part
because he likes dragons, feeling an odd kinship with them, but mainly because his dream has always been the impossible one of transcending his humble origin to someday become a prince’s valet. Needless to say, fate has something rather different in mind. Peter S. Beagle is best-known for his fantasy classic THE LAST UNICORN. Now his amazing imagination turns to a different kind of otherworldly creature, in his first new young adult novel in eight years.”

And in 2024, Saga Press put this slightly different version on the back of their ARC (Advance Reader Copy):

“Dragons are common in the backwater kingdom of Bellemontagne, coming in sizes from mouselike vermin all the way up to the fabled Kings, which haven’t been seen in an age. Gaius Aurelius Constantine Heliogabalus Thrax (who would much rather people call him Robert) has recently inherited his deceased father’s job as a dragon exterminator, a career he detests with all his heart. Things go from bad to worse when Robert is hired by the royal family to disinfect the entire castle, as Princess Cerise is determined to receive Crown Prince Reginald with the shabby ol’ castle looking its best. What happens next is not the fairy tale you were expecting.”

There we go. Five simple, direct pieces of evidence from 1997, 2006, 2007, and 2024. Short and easy to read.

Schrodinger’s Cat time, Spider. There are only two possibilities here.

A. The 2006 emails and 1997 creative session fragment are real, and I am telling the truth about having created this story.

B. The 2006 emails and 1997 creative session fragment are fake, and I am lying about having created this story.

No deflections, now. No straw men. No ad hominem attacks. Which is it — A or B?

(But before you answer, keep in mind that the person who asked the questions in that 1997 session is ready to testify under oath that he was there, and did ask those questions, and that the transcript is 100% accurate. There are also computer files with metadata proving that the session transcription dates from 1997 and has not been modified since.)

I await your reply.


Comment /= reply

Last edited 3 months ago by Spider
Dawn Miller

This book DOES EXIST. As of July 2024, it is available on Libby as an audiobook only (7 hours, published May 14, 2024). A good reader and a very good story.

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