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Dragons and destiny!

4th Sep 20

Four children, four ancient dragons, and a shared destiny bring friendship, danger and adventure in this exciting story, DRAGON MOUNTAIN - the first in a new series by KATIE & KEVEN TSANG

We asked the authors to tell us more about DRAGON MOUNTAIN:

Q: Can you tell us what happens in Dragon Mountain?

A: Dragon Mountain is about four kids who meet at a summer camp in China and discover four, ancient warrior dragons trapped in a mountain behind the camp. And the dragons need their help.

It is a big, exciting, epic adventure. It is about good versus evil, and friendship, and loyalty, and adventure. We can't wait for readers to meet our dragons!

Q: What inspired the story, and its setting in China?

A: Katie woke up in the middle of the night one night with an idea about four children discovering dragons in a mountain in China. And we went from there!

We knew we wanted to combine Eastern and Western dragon mythologies, and we knew we wanted the story to be about modern children discovering dragons.

Kevin's heritage is Chinese and we met studying abroad in Hong Kong, where Kevin's parents are from, and we have both spent a lot of time in that part of the world and know it well. We would love if the book inspired readers to learn more about China.

Q: Why did you decide to write Dragon Mountain together? How did you work out who would write which parts?

A: We love writing together! Katie had the initial idea but she knew to write a big, epic, exciting adventure book, the book would be stronger if we wrote it together.

We already had experience co-writing from writing our series for younger readers, Sam Wu, but this was a different writing experience because Dragon Mountain is so much longer.

We spent a lot of time outlining and talking about the characters, setting, and the plot, and then we take turns writing different scenes and chapters.

Kevin is stronger at world building and action scenes, and Katie enjoys writing dialogue and character interactions. Together, we make a pretty good team.

Q: The four children in the story come from different parts of the world, how did you decide who would be in the group?

A: It was important to us to have an ensemble case instead of one main character as we thought that would make it easier for more readers to see themselves in the story.

We wanted to have a dual heritage character like our daughter, so that is Billy Chan. He's also from California, like Katie.

We also wanted to include a character from Atlanta, Georgia where Kevin grew up, and that is where Charlotte Bell comes from.

We spend a lot of time in Ireland as Katie's brother now lives there, so it felt right to include an Irish character, and as the book is set in China, we wanted to have a Chinese character too, and that is where Ling-Fei comes in.

At the summer camp where the kids all meet, there are kids from all over the world. Ghana, India, England, Japan, and France to name a few... these other characters might also make more of an appearance in later books, but no spoilers!

Q: There are some wonderful dragons and legends in the story, are they based on traditional tales?

A: One of the legends in the book, about a star called Dragon's Heart, we actually made up. But we did get a lot of inspiration from ancient Chinese art and myths and legends.

As part of our research, we looked at lots of ancient Chinese art depicting dragons as well as important artefacts throughout Chinese history.

The eight pearls in the novel, which play a very important part, are inspired by the Eight Great Treasures in Chinese culture.

We also included peaches of immortality, which comes from Chinese mythology. In our take on it, in the Dragon Realm, there are peach trees scattered all across the land, and if you are lucky, you may find a peach that grants you immortality.

Q: In the story, the children are each paired with a dragon. Do you have a favourite?

A: We love all the dragons! Impossible to choose a favorite.

Coming up with the different dragons and creating their personalities and deciding what they would look like was one of our favorite parts of writing the book.

We wanted to combine different elements of Dragons from both Eastern and Western legends.

Q: Apart from the dragons, during their adventures the children come across a range of mythical creatures. Which did you have the most fun creating?

A: Kevin came up with almost all the creatures in the Dragon Realm, and his favorites are probably the magic tiger and the river pup.

The tiger was loosely inspired by Chinese mythology, but the river pup came completely from Kevin's imagination.

Q: What next for the children, and the dragons?

A: We can't give any spoilers! But we had a great time writing the second book in the series, Dragon Legend, and promise it gives all the answers readers will be looking for when they finish book one.

There are currently three books in the series, but we'd love to write more if people enjoy the books.

Q: What for you makes a great adventure story?

A: We think that a great adventure story should have characters who have lots of agency, ones who are making choices that drive the plot.

There should be twists and surprises as well as tension and excitement, and maybe a bit of wish fulfilment.

If you want to write our own adventure story, think about what you wish would happen to you. Do you wish you could fly? Have your own dragon? Do magic? Put it in your story!

Q: What do you do to escape when you're not writing?

A: We have a toddler, so she's kept us very busy during lockdown! And to relax we love to watch cooking shows, and of course reading.

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