Colleen Houck

“I took hold of that scourge -filled ship and crushed it between my limbs, hurtling it into the second sun, the red one that gave me strength. But I was too late." Terraformer

Colleen's blog

  • A Guide to the Dragons

    January 15, 2014

    A Guide to the Dragons of Tiger’s Voyage


    When I first started plotting out my water themed book I didn’t include dragons at all. It wasn’t until I came across myths about Chinese water dragons that the idea really fixed in my mind as a potential story arc.  Like my character Mr. Kadam, my research is very thorough.  I collected pages of notes on every possible type of dragon, created lists of famous dragons, and make charts of their attributes organized according to color, mood, and even tail.

    The first decision I had to make was wings or no wings.  I stuck to my Asian theme and created Chinese dragons that were snakelike and sinuous but had no wings.  I kept them bearded with four short limbs and taloned feet and I gave all of them long tongues and tails as well.

    Next, I chose colors.  Though I discovered that dragons come in all hues, even rainbow, I selected colors purely based on my own preferences.  I wanted my dragons to be jewel colored and reflect the bright hues of India and China.  Red, Gold, Green, Blue, and White were the five I included in the book.  Still, my red dragon is not purely red.  He is a mix of red and black and carries the traits of both.  My gold dragon has gold, bronze, and yellow characteristics.  The blue is a mix of blues and purples and my white dragon also has some of the tendencies of rainbow colored dragons.

    In my research, I learned that red and black dragons are fierce and destructive. They can cause violent storms; they battle in the clouds and are said to be the source of lightning and thunder. Blacks are considered evil and deceptive. Reds are associated with all the symbols of red: blood, temper, anger, love, fire, passion, volcanoes. The blue dragons are more peaceful. They like ice and cold waters. Gold dragons are the kings and queens of dragons; they hoard wealth. Green dragons can heal and promote wellness but also cause earthquakes, spew acid, and eat humans. They’re good at tracking and stalking prey.  They lie and deceive. Whites are reflective and wise; they are seen only rarely, tell half-truths, are omens of death, and their scales shine like mirrors.  They prefer snow and ice and like to live alone.

    I found stories of Indian serpent kings, of crystal palaces beneath the ocean where dragons dined on opals and pearls and were served by crabs and fish, and of weather patterns caused by dragons such as waterspouts, typhoons, and hurricanes.  I learned about the constellation Draco and how some thought it was the serpent that tempted Eve while others believed the dragon in the sky guarded the sacred apples of Hera.

    In China they believe that dragons bring the rain, watch over waterways, guard treasure, and bestow strength, wealth, good fortune, and fertility. In centuries past, the Chinese people have even called themselves the Children of the Dragon.

    I pulled apart all of these ideas and my dragons came to life.  Each of them has a distinct personality but, since they are brothers, there are some characteristics that overlap.  In Chinese mythology dragons are omens of good fortune and they are helpful to mankind.  So each dragon guides Kelsey, Ren, and Kishan but there is always a price to be paid.  I wanted my dragons to help but I also tried to make each of them slightly mischievous.

    The elements are a big theme in the tiger series, so I assigned each dragon a duty and associated him with a symbol of his calling.  I found a very obscure myth of the dragons of the five oceans.  It didn’t go into much detail other than that they each guarded their territory.  I chose to assign my dragons to their respective Oceans.

    When naming them, I cheated by combining the Chinese word for dragon (lóng) with the Chinese word for their color. I also gave them parents—Mother Earth and Father Time.  Five dragons with various traits and responsibilities can be confusing so I created a chart to keep them all properly organized.

    As my heroes confront the dragons, they must accomplish whatever task the dragon assigns and make a bargain that assures they will ultimately reach their goal of finding Durga’s prize.  The red dragon is first and his task is not an easy one.  They are given the assignment to light one of his failing stars.  Kelsey charms this dragon and he is persuaded to help them move on in their journey.

    The blue dragon is spending his days lazily sleeping and to gain his help, Ren, Kelsey, and Kishan must defeat a dangerous sea creature before the dragon will rouse himself.  Fortunately, Durga has bestowed new gifts that are especially needed for this battle.

    The green dragon is a hunter.  He enjoys stalking prey and what better prey could he hunt than tigers?  But this dragon is deceitful and clever.  He throws one obstacle after another in their path and the tigers must overcome his treacherous plans not only to get one step closer to their goal, but to save what is most precious to them.

    The golden dragon is my favorite.  He is greedy and openly proud of the fact.  In facing this dragon, Ren and Kishan must crush him in a battle of wits.  They play on his fears and use shrewd bargaining to attain their goals.

    The white dragon is the eldest brother and he offers his aid without ruse or bartering.  Still, this dragon, who favors his exotic underwater pets, perhaps doesn’t clearly acknowledge the danger his pets may pose to our heroes as he sends them on a dangerous journey through ice tunnels in the depths of the sea.

    I don’t think Tiger’s Voyage would be the same book without my dragons.  I hope you think so too.


    Colleen Houck











    Appearance-Red body, black beard and underbelly, red iris, black talons, black velvety soft antlers like a deer Appearance-Cheeks and brow feathered, scales shimmer in blue and purple, feathers down, golden talons, yellow eyes, purple tongue, crown of feathers Appearance-Scales resemble overlapped green leaves, golden talons, a brown corn silk mane and beard, bushy tail, twisted antlers with moss hanging off Appearance-ginger eye color, scales look like coins, spikes instead of horns, spikes run down his back, red tongue Appearance-sparkling body, icicle horns, blue eye, tongue, and claws, belly shimmers like the aurora borealis, white mane, icicle spiked tail

    Dragon of the West

    Dragon of the South

    Dragon of the East

    Dragon of the North

    Dragon of the  Center

    Character-Friendly but likes his space Character-Easily irritated, lazy Character-Cheats, clever, likes games Character-Greedy, paranoid, gullible, schemer, sinks planes and boats Character-eldest, wise, responsible






    Domain-The Heavens

    Domain-The Oceans

    Domain-The Earth

    Domain-Natural Resources

    Domain-The Solar System






    Duty-Keeps stars lit, protects the Earth from comets, meteors, inspires space exploration, responsible for scientific discoveries in astronomy and math Duty-Cares for all bodies of water, governs rain, inspired early explorers, guards ocean creatures Duty-Cares for all growing things, protector of the Earth, helps crops grow, inspired the development of paper and books Duty-Guards Earth’s treasures, creates gems & minerals, inspired industrial revolution, Duty-watches over ice caps and poles, keeps the Earth on its axis & rotating around the sun, inspires democracy, law, order, revolutionists, philosophy, & reformers


    Djimon Hounsou

    Djimon Hounsou 2

    Black Dragon









    Chow Yun Fat










    Aleksandr Domogarov

    aleksandr domogarov

    golden dragon






    Wallace Shawn

    wallace shawn-golden dragon

    green dragon








    Ian Mckellen

    ian mckellen



    This entry was posted in Bonus Material, Tiger's Voyage.

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    Author Bio
    Colleen Houck

    New York Times Bestselling author Colleen Houck is a lifelong reader whose literary interests include action, adventure, paranormal, science fiction, and romance. When she's not busy writing, she likes to spend time chatting on the phone with one of her six siblings, watching plays, and shopping online. Colleen has lived in Arizona, Idaho, Utah, California, and North Carolina and is now permanently settled in Salem, Oregon with her husband and a huge assortment of plush tigers.