Kevin and Katie Tsang on the importance of writing characters who reflect the world we live in

13 Dec 2020
Katie and Kevin Tsang.jpg

When we first had the idea to write about dragons, we knew that we wanted to write about modern kids who go on an incredible adventure. We wanted an ensemble cast and we wanted to have our four key characters be from all over the world. And we wanted our dragons to be inspired by both Chinese mythology and legends as well as European ones.

We met studying in Hong Kong, where Kevin’s family is originally from, and our daughter is dual-heritage (with three passports!) with Chinese and American/European roots, so we wanted to write characters that she could identify with, but more than that, characters that any child reading could see themselves in, no matter where they are from.

We love the idea of children of Chinese heritage reading our books and recognizing some of the food and the Chinese words we use, but we also love the thought of children discovering new things about a different culture from their own in our books. In addition to characters of Chinese heritage, we have a character from the American south, where Kevin grew up, and Ireland, where Katie’s brother now lives with his fiancé, Irish author Catherine Doyle.

A book is a wonderful way to discover new worlds—both ones grounded in real places like the mountains of China, where Dragon Mountain starts, as well as imaginary ones, like the Dragon Realm where the adventure leads to. In the second book of the series, Dragon Legend which publishes in March 2021, a key scene takes place over the Great Wall of China. We knew this was something many children would recognise even if they haven’t been there yet themselves. We hope that the books inspire an interest in not only dragons, but in China and the importance of people from all over working together in a common goal.

We believe all children deserve to see themselves as heroes, and that all children can be inspired by discovering new worlds in the pages of a book.

Katie and Kevin Tsang are the co-authors of Dragon Mountain (Simon & Schuster). They contributed to our Christmas campaign to highlight the importance of diversity in children's literature and shared a recommendation for our 'spark a love of reading' booklist.