FLYING THE DRAGON, the new middle-grade novel from Natalie Dias Lorenzi, has a deep thread running through it of kite fighting. Which, of course, obviously leads to the brilliant question in the title of this post: um…what?
Yes, kite fighting. No, I’m not mis-spelling ‘flying.’ It’s really ‘fighting.’
And it’s a sport:
SLIGHT UPDATE HERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE POST: David has informed me that the video right above is of Pakistani style fighting, which is different from the Japanese fighting in the book. Still interesting, but different. Japanese rok fighting can be found with a Youtube search for Sanjo kite fighting.
We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming:
To ensure accuracy and realism, Natalie turned to David Gomberg of Gomberg Kites.
David served an unprecedented ten terms as President of the American Kitefliers Association (AKA), the largest association of kite enthusiasts in the world.
He also serves as Vice Chair of the International Kite Federation and Chairman of the World Sport Kite Championships Organizing Committee and was twice elected President of the Kite Trade Association International.
David has received the highest awards that can be given by the international kiteflying community: the Edeiken Award from the AKA and the Checkley Award from the Kite Trade Association. In 2005, he was inducted into the Kiting Hall of Fame by the World Kite Museum.
To help celebrate the release of FLYING THE DRAGON, David was nice enough to answer some questions about Kite Fighting.
1. How did you get involved with the sport of rokkaku (kite fighting)?
Japanese styled kite fighting has been popular at American festivals for a number of years. The kites, rules, and techniques are different. But the experience is similar. In the early days, the event developed because of the close friendships between the Japan Kite Association and the American Kite Association.
I personally became involved because it was fun and something I found I could do fairly well. See THIS for an example.
2. FLYING THE DRAGON is a work of fiction. How important is it for an author to get the details right in a relatively little-known sport like kite-fighting?
I think it is very important. People learn from books. So it makes sense to teach them things correctly. Too often, books and especially motion pictures get details wrong and it takes years to correct those mis-taught lessons.
3. Natalie said that she found your name in the acknowledgements of Linda Sue Park’s middle grade novel THE KITE FIGHTERS and had seen you quoted in a Parents magazine article on kite flying tips with kids. How often do people request your expertise?
We do a lot of interviews – usually when we are traveling as guests of international kite events. And after ten years as president of the American Kitefliers Association, we get a lot of calls. We’ve been involved as support for about a dozen books and several television programs. (Did a guest spot for the Re-Inventors last year dealing with “war kites”).
4. What do you hope readers (and future kite flyers) will come away with after reading FLYING THE DRAGON?
Kite flying offers a number of teaching opportunities — art, science, atmospherics, aviation, history, and culture. And of course, it is fun!
I hope readers gain an appreciation for the aspects of culture the books presents, and perhaps a taste of kiting as well.
Very special thanks to David for stopping by. And, of course, pick up FLYING THE DRAGON to learn more!
(This is Mike, yo.) And just to drag the quality of the entire post down, here’s a video clip about kite fighting starring Santa Duck and Zombie Buddy…
And as a final exclamation point on our weeklong celebration of Natalie’s amazing book, we Emus would like to share our very own version of “cover art” for FLYING THE DRAGON. Ta da!