Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was released on October 10th and was such a fun read! It was one of my most anticipated releases this year, so thank you so much to author Julie C. Dao for stopping by my blog to share some of her thoughts. Makes sure to check out the giveaway at the bottom of the post to win a copy for yourself!
An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.
Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?
Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.
I love throwing epic board game parties! I also spend as much time as possible with family and friends. Writing is so solitary that pretty much everything else I do is social!
• Which scene in Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was the most fun to write?
The scene where Xifeng discovers her “magic mirror” for the first time! It’s where the reader gets to clearly see the evil queen from Snow White as being the inspiration behind the story.
• What was the most random thing you found yourself researching for this book?
I went down several rabbit holes while researching Imperial China, which inspired the main kingdom of Book 1! I read a whole bunch of articles about silkworms, since silk is one of the goods that the Kingdom of the Great Forest trades. They are pretty cool creatures!
• Who are some of your favorite antiheroines?
I’ve always liked Elphaba from Gregory Maguire’s WICKED, even though she’s an example of a villain twisted into a character who’s just misunderstood. For a true dark and complex antiheroine, definitely Adelina from Marie Lu’s Young Elites series! She frightened me yet made me want to keep reading!
• Which other YA character do you think Xifeng would be friends with?
Adelina Amouteru, who I just mentioned! Even if they weren’t BFFs, I feel like they would just GET each other.
• What are some of your favorite books you’ve read so far this year?
You know, I’ve never considered myself a huge sci-fi fan, but two of my favorites this year are both sci-fi: WANT by Cindy Pon and REBEL SEOUL by Axie Oh! I also truly enjoyed BEASTS MADE OF NIGHT by Tochi Onyebuchi, which comes out on Halloween and has a main character named Taj who I fell in love with. I also adored THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas. And two books I desperately need to see as sweet romantic comedies on the big screen: SECRET OF A HEART NOTE by Stacey Lee and WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by Sandhya Menon.
• Any advice to beginning authors?
Gather your writer friends close to you! You’ll need people who fully understand your journey and know how hard it is. Also, they can cheer and celebrate with you when your family is still saying, “What the heck is a query?”
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October 2 – Alexa Loves Books – Author Guest Post | Inspiration Behind FOATL
October 3 – No BS Book Reviews – Review
October 4 – The Young Folks – 10 Reasons to Read FOATL
October 5 – Chasing Faerytales – Author Guest Post | On Villains & Backstories: What Makes Them So Interesting?
October 6 – Arctic Books – Favorite Villains & Anti-Heroes
October 9 – NovelKnight – Review
October 10 – The Book’s Buzz – Author Q&A
October 11 – Across the Words – Author Q&A
October 12 – What Sarah Read – FOATL Mood Board
October 13 – One Way or an Author – History & Possible Real-World Parallels in FOATL
October 16 – MrsLeif’s Two Fangs About It Book Reviews – Review
October 17 – Twirling Pages – Author Guest Post | Julie’s Writing Starter Pack (aka items that got her through writing FOREST)
October 18 – Mundie Moms – Review
October 19 – Book Nerd Addicts – Author Q&A
October 20 – Little Lillie Reads – Review & Playlist
October 23 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Author Guest Post | Julie’s Dream Cast
October 24 – The Eater of Books! – Favorite FOATL Quotes
October 25 – A Page With a View – Author Q&A
October 26 – A Perfection Called Books – Review & Mood Board
October 27 – Xpresso Reads – Author Guest Post | Talk about anything fun/bizarre she discovered while writing the book.