Kate Klimo Interview: The Dragon Keepers
Kidzworld interview the author of The Dragon Keepers, Kate Kilmo. Find out what other authors and books inspire Kate, as well as what career she would have had if she wasn't an author!
Kidzworld: For those who haven’t read The Dragon Keepers series, can you tell us a little bit about it?
- Kate Klimo: The Dragon Keepers is about what happens when two kids, ten-year-old cousins, who read lots of fantasy and have always longed to have a magical adventure of their own, get their wish. When a baby dragon named Emerald hatches out of a geode stone they have found, they are suddenly saddled with the baffling and awesome responsibility of caring for that dragon—not just feeding her, but protecting her from her own impetuousness and--oh, yes--scary bad guys like St. George the Dragon Slayer, who has lived many hundreds of years on the blood of dragons.
Kidzworld: What inspired you to write the Dragon Keepers series?
- Kate Klimo: Years ago, my sons got a geode stone. They wanted desperately to crack it open and find the beautiful crystals inside. They tried everything—hammers, saws, dropping it from a great height—but they just couldn't crack it. Eventually, they gave up. They were so discouraged that my husband consoled them with the thought: "Maybe there's a baby dragon inside and it's just not ready to be born yet." So they tucked the geode away in a sock drawer, and eventually forgot about it. Years later, when the boys had left home and I was clearing out the bureau preparing to turn the bedroom into my writer's study, I came across the geode in the all but empty sock drawer. My husband reminded me of what he had told the boys. "Now, THAT's a great idea for a story," I said. Because, you see, I might have been preparing my study, but I had no idea what I was going to write in it. I set the geode down on the desk and almost immediately started writing The Dragon in the Sock Drawer.
Kidzworld: Were any of your characters, such as Daisy, Jesse or Professor Andersson, based on real people in your life?
- Kate Klimo: Jesse and Daisy are based on me and my childhood best friend Justine. If I had to say, Justine is Daisy and I'm Jesse. Like Jesse and Daisy, Justine and I spent much of our childhood reading books of fantasy and pining for our own magical adventure. I've given Jesse and Daisy the adventures Justine and I only wished we could have had. Professor Andersson is based on my Great Great Uncle Ferd, who I never knew, but he had a reputation for ferocity. He was a temperance fanatic and wrote the book, King Alcohol Dethroned. There's a photograph of him in my study, glowering down at me from the wall. We used it on the web site. Like the professor, he is a dude who brooks no nonsense.
Kidzworld: The Dragon in the Volcano, the fourth book in the Dragon Keepers series, was recently released in paperback. Is there a fifth title in the works?
- Kate Klimo: The first draft of The Dragon at the North Pole is with my editor right now. Recently, at Emmy Day at the the Hudson Country Montessori School in Danbury, Connecticut, the kids in Ms. Kilai's class gave me a brilliant suggestion that I am beginning to mull over, maybe for book six: The Dragon in the Classroom.
Kidzworld: You have quite a long list of books to your name. Which are you the most proud of and why?
- Kate Klimo: I'm most proud of The Dragon Keepers books, because kids really seem to love their combination of fantasy and adventure. Plus, the series inspires them to draw the most beautiful pictures of dragons.
- Kate Klimo: I have been writing since the fourth grade, but my first published book, under the pen name of Pappy Klima (believe it or not!) was published in 1973. Long out of print it is called The Everything In the Whole Wide World Almanac. Carol Nicklaus illustrated it, and it was awesome, if I do say so myself.
- Kate Klimo: Write every day. Read your work aloud, to your friends, or even to yourself. Draw maps of your world. They help make it more real. Writing is all about building a world that is so real, both you and your readers can't help but be drawn into it.