Friday, January 21, 2011

Interview & Giveaway with Dori Jones Yang, Author of Daughter of Xanadu

Today I'm so happy to have Dori Jones Yang, author of the new and phenomenal YA historical fiction novel Daughter of Xanadu in for an interview and a giveaway of her book.

The Interview:

Bold= Kat
Normal= Dori

 --You've written nonfiction and been a journalist for years, but when and how did you make the transition to writing historical fiction?  And why YA fiction in particular?
Ever since childhood, I’ve wanted to write novels, and I especially love historical fiction. But making the transition was hard because journalists are not trained in plot, setting, dialogue, or character development!   YA fiction is the most exciting, fast-growing genre in publishing today, open to new ideas. I believe YA readers are also more open to other cultures because they have grown up in a multicultural society and a global world.

--Tell us a little about your travels to Mongolia and China.  What was the modern-day Xanadu like? 
Mongolian culture is very different from ours, and very appealing. In Mongolia, I had fun staying in a ger (yurt), exploring the Gobi Desert, riding a camel, and even playing the horsehead fiddle. Modern-day Xanadu is a lovely, grassy meadow with wildflowers and a few stone ruins. Nothing is left of the Khan’s marble palace and well-tended gardens, but I could feel the magic.

-- Do you have a favorite character in Daughter of Xanadu, or a character who was the most fun to write?  There are a lot of historical figures in your book-- (Kublai Khan and Marco Polo!)-- which one of them was the most fascinating to you?

I had fun writing about Marco Polo because I discovered he was a storyteller to the Great Khan. He must have been charming, witty, and entertaining, and the stories he knew from the European Middle Ages probably were about knights and ladies and courtly love. That must have made him seem very attractive and romantic.

-- I think it's awesome that you're fluent in Mandarin Chinese and have been a cultural correspondent as well as a journalist and writer!  What first sparked your interest in Chinese and Mongolian culture? 

As a kid, I knew nothing about China. But after college, I spent two years teaching English and studying Mandarin in Singapore and traveling all around Asia. I got to explore whole new worlds and discover thousands of years of history that I had never learned about in school. That’s when I fell in love with Asia.

-- What advice do you have for people who want to be authors or to travel widely as you have?
What it takes to be an author is 20% talent and 80% persistence. You’ll make it only if you’re determined, and you keep at it.  My dream was to write and to travel, and I’m living the dream now. It IS possible!

-- If you could live in one time period of the past, what it would be?  Would you walk with the Egyptians, dance in a Victorian ballroom, or maybe practice archery in the courtyard of Kublai Khan's palace?
I would love to visit Xanadu at its peak, to wander the gardens and peek in the pavilions. But I would not want to live in those times! For women and girls, the best time in history is the present.

-- Do you read a lot?  Who are some of your favorite authors who've inspired you?
I love reading, always have!  As a girl, I was crazy about J.R.R. Tolkien, but lately I’ve been reading historical fiction writers, such as Philippa Gregory and Margaret George, and stories set in China, such as Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.

-- I'm very curious-- are there historical records of women having fought as soldiers in the Mongol army the way your heroine, Emmajin, did?  

There is no record of any woman joining the Mongol Army, but earlier, before there was a standing army, Mongolian women sometimes went to war with their husbands. One wife of Chinggis (Genghis) Khan went to battle with him. And Marco Polo tells an amazing tale of Emmajin’s cousin, Ai-Jaruk, who fought in battles with her father, Khaidu.

-- What do you most want readers to 'come away with', having read Daughter of Xanadu?
I hope readers will find the book a fun read, full of adventure and action and romance. But there is also a deeper message, about rethinking your values and assumptions after you get to know a foreigner and see the world through his eyes.

-- Do you think you will write more YA novels?  Maybe... a sequel to Daughter of Xanadu? *hint, hint* 

Originally, the story of Daughter of Xanadu was twice as long, telling what Marco and Emmajin did in the following year. If readers really love this book, perhaps my publisher will agree to a sequel. What do you think?

--(Personally, I think that would be awesome! The ending of Daughter of Xanadu was a good one, but I found myself wishing it was even just a few pages longer.)  Thanks so much for stopping by my blog, Dori!

 --Read my review of Daughter of Xanadu    --See the book trailer
--Visit Dori's website                  -- Dori on Facebook  
One lucky follower will win a copy of Daughter of Xanadu, generously provided by Dori and Random House!

To Enter: Leave a comment with your email address (include links to anywhere you helped to spread the word for extra entries, please).   The last day to enter is February 10th, 2011.

Rules and Extra Entries:

1. You don't have to be a follower to enter, though it is much-appreciated and worth extra entries.

2. The giveaway is open internationally.

3. Now for extra entries!

+2 for following A Myriad of Books via GFC.
+2 for tweeting about the giveaway, or posting about it on Facebook, or linking to it on the sidebar of your blog
+5 for a blog post about the giveaway
+2 for commenting on my review of Daughter of Xanadu.
New: +2 entries for liking Dori's Facebook page
+1 entry for summing up all your entries (this is much-appreciated, saves me from doing math ;)

So, if you went crazy and earned all the extra entries, you could get a maximum total of 16 entries.  The winner will be chosen by on February 10th, and that winner will have 48 hours to respond following my email notification before a new winner is chosen.  Good luck, guys!


Annette said...

Great interview. This book sounds fascinating and I love historical fiction and am particularly drawn to stories of Asia.

Follower +2

Total Entries: 3

Lexie said...

+2 GFC follower (Lexie@BookBug)
+2 Tweeted giveaway at!/LexieBookBug/status/28474582662914048
+2 Posted on my blog at
Total entries: 7

Kulsuma said...

Thank you for the giveaway!!:)

+2 gfc follower
+2 sidebar:
+2 comment on review
+1 totalling



Ria said...

I've heard some wonderful things about this book. I'd love to be entered for a chance to win a copy! jazriyah @ gmail . com

(And this gives me 2 entries, including the one for adding it up. :p)

SusieBookworm said...

Thanks for the giveaway! The book looks really interesting!

+2 GFC follower


Ava said...

Cool interview! Makes me want to read this book even more! Thanks for the interview and giveaway. :)

Ava said...

Ok, so I just realized you have to leave a comment with info to enter the giveaway. Ah, stupid me. :)

+2 follower via GCF
+2 Tweet!/avacyphera/status/28517300214693888

Total: 5

p.s. do you have a twitter?

Kat said...

@Ava-- Nope, I'm that last person in the world to get on twitter! I swore I was going to join during the mid-term break-- let you know when I get around to it. :)

samantha35 said...

great giveaway
follow via gfc + 2

Katie Altman said...

Love the sound of this book!


Nic @ Irresistible Reads said...

What a great interview Kat! I am so jealous of all the travel across Asia Dori's has done. Also love the deeper message in the book, I think it is an important one.

+2 old follower
+2 commented on review
+1 for adding it up
= 5

Thanks for making it international


Kate said...

Thanks for the interview and the giveaway! It's nice to get deeper into the book and the author's thoughts and things they want us, as readers, to know.

+2 old GFC follower
+1 Good old addition

Leanne said...

Great interview, dear! I've always wanted to visit Asia, so this book should be interesting :]
+2 old follower
+1 for adding it up
= 4 [including the initial entry.]

Sniffly Kitty said...

Thanks for the interview! I want to do more traveling in asia heh~~

+1 for entering
+2 old follower
+1 for adding

= +4

silverphoenix said...

Sweet! I want to read this book so bad!

extra entries:
+2 for being a follower. (either under silverphoenix or Kelsey A)
+2 for tweeting!/SilverrPhoenix/status/28702126410571776
+2 for commenting on your review
+2 for liking Dori on facebook
+1 for adding them all up!
Thanks for the Giveaway!

Anonymous said...

+1 for entering
+2 for commenting on the review
+2 for following through GFC
+1 for adding

= 6 total
Thanks so much for the giveaway! Can't wait to read this book someday! :)

winnie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
winnie said...

Thanks for the giveaway!

+1 entry comment here
+2 GFC follower
+1 summing all entries

Total = 4


Bethie said...

Thanks for the giveaway. I would love to win this.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

tabbylewis said...

Thanks for the giveaway! :)

+2 GFC follower.
+2 Tweeted:!/Tabby_L/status/29048011975823360
+2 Like Dori on facebook
+1 for adding them all up!

Total: 7


buddyt said...

Chinese history ( or perhaps I should say Asian history) is not as well known as the European equivalent but I find it quite fascinating.

I would love to see how you deal with this in the book.

Please enter me in the giveaway.


Carol T

buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

+2 I am a Follower via GFC

Total +3

Aik said...

I'd love to read this book!

+2 for following A Myriad of Books via GFC.

+2 for tweeting about the giveaway

+1 Tally

Total: 5

Aik @ The Bookaholics
aikychien at yahoo dot com

leeshinyoung said...

wow! I like this book!
First, I'm fascinated about Asia.
Second, bcoz I'm Asian.:-)
If ever I would win this give away, this would be my very first win...
I hope I coudl get it!:-)

leeshinyoung said...

wow! I like this book!
First, I'm fascinated about Asia.
Second, bcoz I'm Asian.:-)
If ever I would win this give away, this would be my very first win...
I hope I coudl get it!:-)

here are my entries:

+2 for following
+2 posted it in Facebook/linked it in my sidebar
+5 blog post about the giveaway
+2 liked Dori's facebook page
+1 sum of all my entries
+2 comment on your review

Here's the link of my blog post:


Maria Behar said...

I LOVED this interview!! So fascinating! I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but this sounds so great, I have to get the book, one way or the other -- either I win it, or buy it!

I have written a post on my blog about the interview/giveaway, and linked back to your blog.

My blog's URL is:

I nave also commented on your review, which I absolutely LOVED, as well!

You can reach me at:


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the giveaway. The books sounds very interesting so I'd like to enter.

Just 1 entry.

jh30315 @ gmail dot com

Vivien said...

Thanks, this one really does look good.
+2 GFC follower
+2 comment on review.
+1 total is: 6 including initial entry

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Meredith said...

This sounds fascinating. I don't read much historical fiction set in this time period or in a setting other than Europe..

meredithfl at gmail dot com
+2 GFC follower

+2 I like Dori's page on FB.

+1 for total = 6

Katie said...

nice!!! loved the interview!

+2 I am a gfc follower
+1 for adding up

= 4 entries

iLuvReadingTooMuch said...

Great Interview! Can't wait to read the book :)

+2 GFC Follower - iLuvReadingTooMuch
+1 for adding it up

=3 total entries


buddyt said...

This sounds like a really interesting read and the author appears to be uniquely set to write about the setting.

I would love to win a copy so please enter me.

Thanks for opening it to worldwide entries.

Carol T

+2 I am a Follower via GFC.
+1 for comment
+ 1 For adding up

Total +4

Holz said...

Awesome interview! Thanks for the giveaway:)

The Library Owl said...

Fantastic interview and giveaway!
I am a follower and I added them up for you.

Total entries = +3

tetewa said...

Sounds good, I'd like to be included!

Badass Bookie said...

Thank-you so much for this giveaway! Great Interview!

+2 Follower ( Badass Bookie)
+2 Tweet -!/BadassBookie/status/34066738672975872
+1 Add it up - 5

erica_henry said...

Book sounds really cool. Count me in:

I am a follower

Elin said...

+2 for following A Myriad of Books via GFC - Tollehed95
+2 for tweeting about the giveaway -!/Quileute4Ever/status/35741106759012352
+1 entry for summing up all your entries - 5 enteries :)

natalie23 said...

I've been wanting to read more historical fiction, and more this sounds perfect.

original entry
+2 GFC follower as natalie23
+2 commenting on review
+1 adding up

total 6


Rad Hall said...

Don't ususally read historical fiction but the subject looks interesting here.
Thanks for the international giveaway.

+2 GFC follower
+2 commenting on review
+1 adding up
Total = 6

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