Carole Wilkinson’s Dragonkeeper Blog Tour – Day 6

Today I’m joined by Australian author Carole Wilkinson, author of the wonderful Dragonkeeper books.  Carole has just released the 4th book in the Dragonkeeper series, Blood Brothers, and the whole series now has a fantastic new cover design.  I really enjoyed the first 3 books in the series, which I read many years ago, so I’m looking forward to getting back to that world again.

Thanks for joining me Carole!

It’s great to be travelling across the Tasman for today’s blog, hosted by Zac at the My Best Friends are Books blog. I’m writing about creating some of the characters in the Dragonkeeper series.

A Reluctant Heroine

Creating convincing characters is perhaps one of the hardest things about writing fiction. I rarely base characters on people that I know, not consciously anyway. When I created the main (human) character for Dragonkeeper, I wanted her to start with nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not even a name. And so I created a slave girl who has no freedom, no possessions, no friends. What she does have is resourcefulness. She has learned to make the most of her miserable life — finding a friend in a friendless world (Hua her pet rat), collecting a few precious items to call her own (a rusty iron blade, a white eagle feather, a piece of weathered wood shaped like fish) and enjoying simple pleasures such as a warm fire and a bowl of lentils flavoured with some purloined ginger.

I didn’t want her to be someone who has always known she was special, or who always had a dream to achieve something grand. At the beginning of the story, Ping has no expectation of any aspect of her life changing. She isn’t craving freedom, she just makes the best of a bad situation.

When offered escape she doesn’t snatch it, she hangs back and has freedom more or less forced upon her. When told she has latent special skills and the opportunity to take up an important role, she doesn’t believe it. That can’t be her. She struggles with her role as dragonkeeper.

Back in 2001, when I started writing Dragonkeeper I didn’t realise how much of me there was in my main character. Just like Ping needed a push to begin my journey to becoming a writer. I had absolutely no confidence that I could achieve that goal.

Inspiration for the Timid

When I was young, there were always those girls who effortlessly excelled. They were natural athletes or had a talent for music or were clever enough for maths and Latin to be a breeze. They were the ones teachers loved. I wasn’t sporty or musical, and I got average marks. I might well have been good at writing stories, but no one asked me to do that. Classes had 40-plus students and teachers didn’t remember my name.

I wanted Ping to be a character to inspire girls who are average and insecure, whose talents are hidden or yet to be acquired by years of hard work.

Draconic Characters

One of the most enjoyable aspects of planning the Dragonkeeper series has been creating the characters of the dragons. First there is Danzi who is frustratingly uncommunicative and past his prime, but who has a quirky sense of humour. In Garden of the Purple Dragon there is Kai, a cheeky dragonling, easily bored. Then in Dragon Moon I got to create a whole cluster of dragons — eight of them, all with very different characters.

I drew on Chinese mythology for the basic characteristics of the dragons — their colours, ability to shape-shift, and the fact that they hibernate in deep pools — and then developed these features. Chinese dragons come in five different colours — red, yellow, black, white or green. I started by deciding that each colour would be like a subspecies with its own characteristics. Red dragons are the biggest, with horns up to a metre long and blue whiskers. They are mediators. They can’t shape-change, but they can camouflage themselves. White dragons are the smallest and the best fliers. They can only shape-change into white birds. The yellow dragons are timid and they sing. The black dragons are more solitary. Unlike all the other dragons, they don’t like water much. They are bad-tempered and prone to fighting, but fiercely protective of their cluster. And the green dragons are natural leaders with exceptional shape-changing skills. They are as at home in the water as they are in the air.

Not all my dragons remain true to type. In the latest book in the series, Blood Brothers, Kai has lost interest in being a leader, and gentle Sha has undergone a radical personality change. I’m looking forward to developing the characters of my other dragons in future books.

Carole Wilkinson


Blood Brothers, book 4 in the Dragonkeeper series. Out now!

Win a set of Carole Wilkinson’s Dragonkeeper books

Australian author, Carole Wilkinson, has written a great post for My Best Friends Are Books to celebrate the release of Book 4 in the Dragonkeeper series, Blood Brothers.

Thanks to Walker Books Australia I have a full set of the four books in the Dragonkeeper series to give away.  All you have to do to get in the draw for the books is leave your name and email address below.  Competition closes Monday 4 June (NZ only).

My Most Anticipated May New Releases

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Tris has survived a brutal attack on her former home and family. But she has paid a terrible price. Wracked by grief and guilt, she becomes ever more reckless as she struggles to accept her new future.
Yet if Tris wants to uncover the truth about her world, she must be stronger than ever … because more shocking choices and sacrifices lie ahead.


Starters by Lissa Price

16-year-old Callie lost her parents when the ‘genocide spore’ wiped out everyone except those who were vaccinated first – the very young and very old. She and her little brother must go on the run, living as squatters, fighting off unclaimed renegades who would kill for a cookie. Hope comes in the form of the Body Bank run by a mysterious figure, known only as The Old Man. The Body Bank allows teenagers to rent out their bodies to ‘Enders’ – the elderly members of society – who want to be young again. But Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party in her body. She intends to commit murder…


The Phoenix Files: Fallout by Chris Morphew

The Shackleton Building has been turned into a concentration camp, and the last free people in Phoenix have been forced into hiding. Unless Jordan and the others can figure out where the Co-operative is keeping Tobias, everything they’ve fought for will be for nothing.

As Peter spins further out of control, can Jordan find a way to save Luke’s life, or is history doomed to repeat itself?

With only weeks left until Tabitha is released, Phoenix’s biggest secrets are still yet to be revealed.

And the clock is still ticking.

There are 35 days until the end of the world.


Dragonkeeper Book 4: Blood Brothers

The year is 325. The powerful Han Dynasty is a distant memory and tribes of barbarian soldiers fight over what was once the Empire. It is a dangerous time. Kai is 465 years old – a teenager in dragon years. He is searching for the person predestined to be his dragonkeeper. Kai’s search has led him to a Buddhist novice named Tao. But Tao is certain he is not the one; he has no interest in caring for a difficult dragon. He believes his path lies in another direction. But Tao must learn to listen to the voice within himself and that no journey ever reveals its true purpose until it is over.


10 Futures by Michael Pryor

Sam and Tara. Best friends in a future when artificial intelligence organises our lives, and micropets are the latest craze. Best friends when rationing means cold showers and no internet. Best friends when genetic matching makes asking a girl on a date a minefield of epic proportions.

But will they still be best friends in a future when plague wipes out most of humanity? Or a future when the Inquisitor asks Sam to choose one betrayal over another?

Michael Pryor, one of Australia’s best authors of speculative fiction, imagines what our next 100 years might be like. Utopia or dystopia? Miracle or catastrophe? Whatever might happen, it’s just around the corner. Which future will be yours?