In the Time of Dagon Moon Blog Tour--Interview with Janet Lee Carey

It's my pleasure today to welcome Janet Lee Carey, who's latest book, In the Time of Dragon Moon (Kathy Dawson Books, March 2015, YA), is the sort of book that will please those who enjoy generous helpings of dragons, romance, fantasy that's an integral part of the world building, and engaging characters!  It is the third of her books set in a sort of alternate Britain (the first being Dragon's Keep, the second Dragonswood), in which dragons and elves are very real, and in which marriage has occurred between those two races and the ruling human family. 

In this installment of the series, Uma, a young girl from the indigenous people of this kingdom tries to save her people's future by serving as the physician to the mad queen, who is desperate to have another child.  The queen has killed or imprisoned all her previous doctors, but Uma has the additional fear for her people, who are being held hostage contingent on her success.... Uma, who has had to push her way into being her father's apprentice in medicine (it was traditionally a male role), is scared and uncertain, but determined to do her best, which means that she must befriend the temperamental red dragon that was her father's friend to find the pharmacological herbs she needs.  And then to complicate matters, she and the king's nephew, Jackrun, who is part dragon and part fey, fall into loving each other while trying to unravel the mystery of the death of the Queen's firstborn son, which has further unhinged her mind...

Thank, Janet, for your lovely answers to my questions (which are in bold!)

-Your three dragon books are a series...but each can also stand alone.  I'm wondering if you knew there would be more books to come when you wrote Dragon's Keep, and planned accordingly, or if the second and third books were something of a surprise.  If the later is true, did you run into any problems in which your vision/world building/characterization in In the Time of Dragon Moon clashed with things in the earlier books?
When I first wrote Dragon’s Keep, I hoped there might be more books set in that world, but I did not plan on it. I wrote it before I was a published author and in those days I was still dreaming about and hoping I’d find a publisher who liked my books! That said, I did a lot of world building for Dragon’s Keep. The Kirkus review for In the time of Dragon Moon begins with the line: “Humans, dragons and fey coexist on Wilde Island, but this uneasy peace masks a simmering, mutual distrust.” I created a world rife with simmering tension and that gave me a lot of plot possibilities. I also landed on the idea to move from generation to generation so the reader sees familiar characters from the earlier books. So they meet the witch hunter, Tess and Bion in Dragonswood. And careful readers will recognize Jackrun from the epilogue. He’s just two years old then, and seventeen in this new book.
(me, Charlotte, just saying that here is the lovely cover of Dragonswood, and here's my review of it)

-Now that it’s established as a series, do you think there will be more books continuing the story of the Pendragons?
That’s partly up to the reading community. What I mean by that is authors can sell more books in a series as long as the series has enough of a following. So in that sense, readers have a say in what’s published. Of course I’d love to write more Wilde Island books. I have some ideas brewing.
-Many of your characters are different from those around them, either by virtue of mixed heritage or by physical differences.   Was this something you set out deliberately to include, or is it something that just keeps happening?  (With both your books and with Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman, I have been trying to decide when having dragon scales, or other elements of dragon anatomy, constitutes a disability....my answer being, it depends--both on physical ramifications and on people's response to the scales or claws or fire....Is this something you have thought about at all?)
Very insightful question! My main characters are set apart, and do feel different from those around them. That’s partly because it makes good fiction. Someone who sees things differently makes a good protagonist as well as a good antagonist don’t you think? It’s also because I have a heart for outsiders. I felt different from my peers, so I know what it’s like. Your thoughts on dragon scales are wonderful. Yes whether dragon scales or other dragon powers such as Jackrun has, are seen as a disability has to do with the person’s response to them as well as other people’s response to them. In Jackrun’s case, his nuclear family fully accepts dragon scales and sees them as a mark of honor. Uma feels the same, but Jackrun’s other power is more frightening, both Jackrun and his family have a hard time accepting it. Other members of the Pendragon family don’t even accept the dragon scales. The king and his son Prince Desmond hide theirs, and they ostracize Princess Augusta because she has dragon scales on her forehead and golden dragon eyes. 
-Uma, the central protagonist of Dragon Moon, is in an awfully frustrating position for the course of this story.   She has virtually no opportunities to say what she really thinks, because her people are being held hostage, and on top of that, she is struggling for the opportunity to be the person that her culture says she can't be--a woman who is a healer.  And I commend her for carrying on as calmly as she does!  Did this part of Uma's story make it frustrating for you, as its author, to write?  Or did knowing the ending help? 
I was certainly frustrated for Uma. And since an author needs to live inside a character’s skin while writing each scene, I felt what Uma felt. She’s in an awful situation. Yet terrible situations are the stuff of good stories. As a captive of the queen, Uma is forced to struggle toward freedom and independence. She carves her own path. I ended up loving that about her.
 -I love that your books have a Giving Back component.  Could you share a bit about how this came about, and how you chose the Giving Back direction for Dragon Moon?
I first started giving to a charity in conjunction with a book launch when my book The Double Life of Zoe Flynn came out – the story of a homeless girl who lives with her family in a van. At that time I worked with Hopelink, raising awareness of homelessness and we did some wonderful food drives on my school visits. After that I was hooked. As I worked on each new book, I considered which charity I would donate to, trying to match it to the book’s theme in some way. Offering readers a chance to donate, too, seemed right. I was also a founding diva of readergirlz. Outreach was a foundational part of that literacy and social media project and it still is. I chose Nature Conservancy’s Savethe Rainforest  project for In the Time of Dragon Moon after studying indigenous healers like Uma and her father, the Adan. In the course of writing the book, I learned about the ongoing destruction of the rainforests in the Amazon Basin, the place where vital medicinal plants grow. As it says on the Nature Conservancy site; “Probably no other place is more critical for human survival than the Amazon.”
I knew it would be the right charity outreach for the book.
-And finally, what other YA fantasy books, with or without dragons, would you recommend to readers who like this series, and vice versa? 

I love Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea series, and her Annals of the Western Shore series including, Gifts, Voices, and Powers. I also love Juliet Marillier’s Shadowfell books, Shadowfell, Raven Flight, and The Caller. And I’m a fan of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races.

About the Author
(photo credit Heidi Pettit)
Janet Lee Carey grew up in the bay area under towering redwoods that whispered secrets in the wind. When she was a child she dreamed of becoming a mermaid (this never happened).She also dreamed of becoming a published writer (this did happen after many years of rejection). She is now an award-winning author of nine novels for children and teens. Her Wilde Island Chronicles are ALA Best Books for Young Adults. She won the 2005 Mark Twain Award and was finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Janet links each new book with a charitable organization empowering youth to read and reach out. She tours the U.S. and abroad presenting at schools, book festivals and conferences for writers, teachers, and librarians. Janet and her family live near Seattle by a lake where rising morning mist forms into the shape of dragons. She writes daily with her imperious cat, Uke, seated on her lap. Uke is jealous of the keyboard. If Janet truly understood her place in the world, she would reserve her fingers for the sole purpose of scratching behind Uke’s ear, but humans are very hard to train.

Visit her website here
Thanks again to Janet Lee Carey for appearing, and thanks to the publisher for the review copy of the book!  For other stops on the Dragon Moon blog tour please click here.



  1. I have this series on my list! I have heard such great things about it, so it was awesome to learn more about it here today. I love that the author wrote each as a book that can stand alone, but they are still part of a series. Like Janet, I wanted to be a mermaid too! :) Best of luck to her!

  2. I have just Dragonswood on my bookshelf now I want the rest of the series...


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