Great to be a guest here at Literary Life. Thanks for hosting me, Megan. Today I am going to answer the question…
Why Write about Dragons?
I don’t know. Why do some people play football? Why do others make patchwork quilts? It’s what I like. They are beautiful to behold, and they have powers such as shape-shifting and humans have been telling stories about them for thousands of years. I haven’t always been obsessed with dragons. It is a love that came to me as an adult when I wrote my first dragon story.
My First Dragon
I have to confess that my first dragon story wasn’t my original idea. I stole it from my husband. It was a bedtime tale he had made up to tell our daughter [author Lili Wilkinson]. I developed the idea into a movie script and that first dragon story became a tele-movie called The Balanced Particle Freeway. My first dragon was called Mizuchi (which is Japanese for something, I can’t remember what). He was a gorgeous, big green creature made out of rubber. He could walk and talk and was operated by a sweating guy inside him.
The producer tried to find funding from international partners in order to raise the money to get the movie made. So when she had interest from a German company, she said, ‘Carole, can you work in something to appeal to viewers in Germany.’ There was some interest from France and from Wales. So I researched German dragon legends, and French and Welsh. That’s what really got me intrigued about dragons. There were stories about them from all over the world. I wrote the script. It got made. It was watched around the world. By that time, I was hooked. I kept researching dragon stories. I wanted to find every dragon legend and myth that has ever been told in every part of the world. I’m still doing finding them.
It was the Chinese dragons that intrigued me most. Unlike all the others, they are benevolent. Where dragons from the West are evil and fire-breathing. Chinese dragons breathe steam which forms rain clouds, and only kill humans if severely provoked. And what strange ethereal creatures ancient Chinese writers described. They come in five different colours and make sounds like the clashing of copper bowls. They have a taste for roasted swallow and arsenic. When I decided that I wanted to write a dragon novel, there was no doubt in my mind, it had to be about a Chinese dragon.
Danzi was my first Chinese dragon. He is the dragon protagonist in the first Dragonkeeper novel. Chinese dragons can live up to 3000 years, so he wasn’t old by dragon standards, but after 40-odd years in captivity his skills had diminished, his body was no longer agile, and he was a dragon of few words. He also had a penchant for quoting from the Dao de Jing*.
I had no idea how much my young readers would love Danzi. I had no clue that ten years after I wrote the first Dragonkeeper book, readers would still be emailing me begging me to bring him back into the story.
Kai is a different kind of dragon altogether. He’s young, and cheeky. In Blood Brothers, he’s now more than 400 years old, but in dragon terms that’s a young dragon. A teenage dragon and he has become my main dragon protagonist. You can see Sonia Kretchmar’s depiction of Kai on the cover of Blood Brothers.
*One of the Chinese Classics believed to be written in 6th century BCE. The name translates to something like The Classic of the Way.
Thank you, Carole!
Simply either email me or leave a comment below (with your email) telling us what your favourite dragon is.
Comp closes 5 June, open internationally.