Welcome to Interview Fridays!
This week I have the imaginative author behind the young adult fantasy Prophecy: Ellen Oh!
Ellen’s enthusiasm as one of the debuting authors this year is visible in her responses, making her interview fun and informative! Also, make sure to check out her must-read list of books coming out in 2013 on question 10!
As always, remember to check out the links within the interview!
Ellen Oh is an adjunct college instructor and former entertainment lawyer who one day picked up a Genghis Khan biography and was never quite the same again.
It was the start of an obsessive fascination with ancient Asian history that led to years of researching, which culminated in writing Prophecy, her first novel.
She also loves martial arts films, K-pop, K-dramas, and cooking shows, and she thinks the Last Airbender series was the best animated show ever created. Originally from New York City, Ellen lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with her husband and three daughters and is always on the hunt for a decent bagel.
Check Ellen out on the web:
Most Recent Work:
Release Date: January 2, 2013
Genres: Young adult, fantasy, historical fiction
“The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms… is a girl with yellow eyes.
Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope…
Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.
Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.”
Check out/buy Prophecy on the web:
1. Prophecy looks like a very original piece of literature! What inspired you to write from the perspective of Kira, the protector, rather than the prince?
“Well, I actually wrote the book from the prince’s perspective at first.
That was the book I originally went on submission with. The whole basis of the idea there was that here was this young prince who was told by everyone that he was destined to be this great hero, but it turns out that it was really his girl cousin.
And I had originally written it from a boy perspective trying to come to grips with this fact in a very male chauvinist world. During this submission round, I had a lot of requests to revise and resubmit and at that point I had a revelation that the book would be so much stronger being told from Kira’s perspective instead.”
2. What were some of the key points you focused on while editing?
“Changing the POV of an entire book can be quite daunting.
It was basically like writing an entirely new book. So it was more of a rewrite than editing.”
3. What was the greatest challenge you faced while on the path to being published?
“So many people told me that no one would buy my book because it was too foreign.
It was the single most difficult thing to deal with. But it only made me more determined to get it published.”
4. Which author, directly or indirectly, encouraged you to strive to succeed as a writer for young adults?
“I have so many authors who have been an incredible support for me!
Cindy Pon, Marie Lu, Robin LaFevers, Mike Jung, Kiki Hamilton, Carrie Harris, Malinda Lo, Leigh Bardugo, Jenn Reese, Anne Nesbet, all published authors I respect and admire.
Every one of them has been an incredible supporter of me and Prophecy. I can’t even tell you how grateful I am to them and their encouragement. There were times that I don’t know if I could have continued without their words of wisdom.
And then there are my debut author friends who kept me sane, most particularly Elsie Chapman and April Tucholke, and the whole Friday the Thirteeners gang.
I wouldn’t have made it without all of them.
Authors are the most incredibly supportive group of people I know. I’m blessed to have so many good friends.”
5. What are Kira’s best and worst characteristics?
“Kira’s best characteristic is her loyalty and her strength.
Once she is your friend, you can count on her to always be there for you, no matter how bad the circumstances may be. And she is a strong stubborn girl who won’t back down (definitely good to have her in a fight!).
Her worst characteristic is her own insecurity. She doubts herself. Even though she knows she is special, she thinks of it more as a curse because she is so different.”
6. Name the book closest to you and write a short review in four sentences.
“Physically close to me right now? Well that would be Pivot Point, which I just bought this week.
It’s by my good friend Kasie West, yes a Thirteener!, and it is AWESOME! Everybody should run out and by this book because Kasie is brilliant and Pivot Point is brilliant.
The premise is about a girl with the ability to see (basically live them in her mind) alternate versions of her future and she must choose the right path. My little sentence doesn’t do it justice. I LOVE this book and I think you all will too! Kasie is going to be a huge YA star, mark my words!!”
7. High Fantasy fiction has always been impressive because of the intricate detail put into the story. What would you say was the most difficult part of writing Prophecy?
“It was hard to try and keep the feel of authentic ancient Korea while still keeping it a fantasy.
I would have issues with thinking about just how authentic I should make certain things, or to simplify in order to cater to a western audience. So it would affect things like how many Korean words were used to naming characters. One of the most difficult aspects of it was trying to stay in line with Korean honorifics because of how confusing they can be.
Ultimately I had to make a decision to try and separate Lord Shin from Shin Bo Hyun by always referring to the latter by his full name. I had to because of the confusion with his uncle Lord Shin.
Things like that drove me crazy but I hopefully worked out a system that wasn’t difficult for people to follow.”
8. What would you say to writers currently sending out query letters?
“Make sure your MS is absolutely ready before your query.
Remember, you only have one chance to make the best impression. The worst mistake you can make is rushing out to query before making sure your MS is 100% ready.”
9. If a reader wants to read more books like Prophecy, what would you recommend?
“Moribito, Guardian of the Spirit and Moribito, Guardian of Darkness! They are awesome, but I’m sorry to say Scholastic has only translated the first 2 of this 12 volume series. I just wish if enough people read it, they could maybe convince Scholastic to publish the rest of the series.
Also, Cindy Pon’s Phoenix duology and Malinda Lo’s Huntress have a similar Asian setting and characters.”
10. What are your thoughts on the upcoming 2013 lineup of Y/A novels? What is your most anticipated read coming out this year?
“2013 is simply an AMAZING year of YA titles!
First of all Marie Lu’s Prodigy is out and if you haven’t read it yet, you are missing out! That book is brilliant and so is Marie!
I’ve already mentioned how much I love Pivot Point, but Madman’s Daughter also came out, which is dark genius btw. Elsie’s Dualed is coming out soon and I’ve already picked that as the birthday book buying present of the year (I always pick one book to give out as presents for my oldest daughter’s friends and Dualed is it!!). It is just AWESOME! But then again, you can’t lose with the 13ers lineup that is coming out.
Shannon Messenger’s Let the Sky Fall (beautiful book and Shannon is my oldest daughter’s favorite author), Erin Bowman’s Taken (intense and gripping), Natalie Whipple’s Transparent (this book is so cool), Jenn Johannson’s Insomnia (which I’m reading now and which is giving me insomnia!!), and April Tucholke’s Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (most beautiful lyrical gorgeous book I’ve read in a long time!).
But the Luckies have these amazing books coming out also, including Amanda Sun’s brilliant Ink (fabulous Japanese setting and incredibly cool concept), Justina Ireland’s Vengeance Bound (intense fabulous read), Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan’s Wasteland (post-apocalyptic western - how cool is that?), Christy Farley’s Gilded (contemporary fantasy set in Korea which is briliant!) and so many more.
Yes, I’ve read all of the above. I’m incredibly lucky and I’m not just saying this cause they are my friends. These books are FANTASTIC! I would not have listed them here if they weren’t! And I’m sorry if this sounds like bragging. I’m not. I’m just in such awe of the talent here! But if I were reading this, I would be incredibly jealous of me. :o)
Most anticipated read?
Where do I begin???? Leigh’s Siege and Storm, dying to read this! And Robin’s follow up to Grave Mercy which is Dark Triumph, which I would give my left pinkie toe for, btw. And then the list of debuts I’m dying to read is so long that I can’t list them all here. But I have to say that Mindy McGinnis’s Not A Drop To Drink (did you see her brilliant cover?) is way up there as well as Amy McCulloch’s The Oathbreaker’s Shadow, Debra Driza’s Mila 2.0, Kelly Fiore’s Taste Test, Emily Murdoch’s If You Find Me, and I need to stop, or I will be giving you a 10 page opus.
Later on I will hit myself for not including other titles, I’m sure of it, but I’ll stop here with the caveat that this is not the only most anticipated reads for me!!
Thanks so much for inviting me Dayla!! This was fun!”
Thank you Ellen for stopping by!
I hope you guys enjoyed this week’s interview! Come back next week for another awesome interview!