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.
--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?
-- 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?
-- 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
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 random.org 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!