Announcing the 2nd Annual
Young Adult Faeries & Fantasy Giveaway Hop
January 8th to 14th
This years hop is co-hosted by Gabrielle from The Mod Podge Bookshelf
Thanks to I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and The Mod Podge Bookshelf for sponsoring this giveaway hop. I am thrilled to introduce the featured author for this hop, Ellen Oh, author of Prophecy! She generously agreed to do a US giveaway of a signed copy of her book and swag as well as a great interview!
Goodreads Book Description:
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.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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.
Author Interview Part I.
1. You have a very unusual pathway (and one that I personally love) to becoming a writer. First, you were a lawyer, now you are an YA writer with a cultural twist. Can you tell us a little about your adventures to getting where you are today?
I'd become fascinated with Ancient Asian history after reading a biography on Genghis Khan back in the year 2000. It led to years of obsessive research that led to a kernel of an idea -- an idea that I could write a fantasy novel using a mix of history, mythology and legend. And then it happened. One morning, while stuck in horrible gnarly traffic on the Washington, DC beltway heading to work, the idea blossomed into a story that just came tumbling out of my head. Since traffic was either at a stop or crawling along, I grabbed every single scrap of paper out of my purse and began scribbling the story down of a young prince who is supposed to be the hero of legend, but then it turns out that the hero is really his cousin, who’s a girl. And that was the idea that ultimately turned into Prophecy.
The difficulty was that I had a demanding legal job (and at the time 3 small children) which made finding time to write very challenging. Then there was a major corporate restructuring and all the senior management that I reported to and respected, left my company. The day job was even more demanding, but now not as fulfilling. I was turning more and more to my writing for satisfaction. My husband, who has always been a great support and has always believed in me, said, “Why don’t you quit and give the writing a go?”
Ok, to be honest, it really wasn’t an easy decision for me. I had enjoyed my legal career. I wasn’t sure I was ready to give it up to try something that might never pan out. But I really loved my new book. I believed in it. There were two failed manuscripts in my drawer that would never see the light of day, but I just knew this one was it. That was the epiphany. A feeling of knowing that a book idea you have is good enough to be published, but not knowing if you were good enough to write it. But I knew, no matter what, I had to try.
At the time I had a close work colleague who couldn't understand why I was quitting. In a moment of rash and stupid honesty, and because we were friends, I told him in a very bashful, slightly embarrassed manner, that I was working on a book and my dream was to see it published and maybe make a career out of it. I had never shared this dream with anyone outside of my husband at that point. My friend laughed. Loudly and derisively. And then he said, "Yeah, right. Keep dreaming.” He even made that pftttthhh sound. You know the one you make when you think someone is full of shit? Yep, that one.
It's funny. I've had many more negative comments thrown at me before and after that statement, and yet it is this one derogatory comment, made by a close work colleague, that I can absolutely point to as the turning point. It was at that moment that I decided I would prove him wrong. No matter how long it took, no matter how many books I wrote, no matter how bloodied and broken my hands were (hey that happened, I actually worked on a very tight deadline with a broken hand!) I would prove him wrong.
This fired me through countless rejections, difficult criticisms, and 75 redrafts of my manuscript. My book underwent more plastic surgery than Joan Rivers. I was merciless because I had something to prove. I tore that manuscript apart to its bare bones and built it back up again so many times and in so many different ways. And yet I never got sick of it. Quite frankly, I don't know if it's because it's that good or because my intense fury would just never die away. Either way, I actually owe my old friend a debt of gratitude. He gave me the kick in the butt I needed to chase after my dream. He made me determined to prove him wrong. He made me so freaking mad!
One day I'll have to give him a call and buy him dinner and tell him "Dude, a long time ago, you were a real asshole to me and I have to thank you for that." He probably doesn't even remember what he said that long ago day, but it changed my life and for that I am grateful.
2. Also, what made you decide to write a YA book instead of another genre?
3. I love the background and world building of Prophecy. Can you tell us a little bit about the research that went into it and how your own Korean background played into this book?
I did a lot of research for Prophecy! TONS! My Dad would get all these books for me in Korean and translate them for me. And I also bought everything I could. And what I couldn’t buy I was fortunate to have access to my university’s amazing library database. So yes, I did a lot of research, especially dealing with the Three Kingdoms period. But ultimately I always think of what a famous professor of Korean history at Yale said to me. He said the problem with this particular period of Korean history is that not a whole lot is really known about it. So much history and cultural artifacts were lost during all the invasions Korea endured. A lot of what is known relies heavily on recorded testimony from China and Japan. So ultimately I decided that I what I wanted to do is write a fantasy novel that had the feel of ancient Korea but was still ultimately a fantasy novel.
4. Kira is a very compelling protagonist. There have already been some comparisons to Graceling (and in my personal mind, Mulan). Can you tell us a little how you came up with your characters and what other sources inspired you to create your characters?
5. What has been the most interesting thing a fan has said so far about your book?
There’s no better feeling in the world than to hear that from your target audience. It wipes away every blasé, negative review from adult reviewers because the truth is, I didn’t write Prophecy for an adult audience. I wrote it for that twelve year old girl. I wrote it for my daughters. I wrote it for kids!
6. What do you have on the horizon? Can you tell us a little about what is in store for Kira without giving too much away?
Thanks to Ellen for this terrific interview. Enter to win her amazing book and some great swag!
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