Friday, July 29, 2011

Interview with Dori Jones Yang, author of Daughter of Xanadu

While signing my book at the conference, Dori Jones Yang offered to do an interview on my blog. Needless to say, I was touched. I've never interviewed an author before, so this is exciting!

Daughter of Xanadu is a fun Asian adventure with intense battles, an independent heroine, and impossible love. I'd say more, but this trailer explains the book better than I can:

1. You did a lot of traveling for this novel. Where did you go and what did you do?

Daughter of Xanadu takes place in a land that is “long ago and far away” – the Mongol Empire of the 13th century, in the days of Khubilai Khan. In order to transport readers to this exotic land, I wanted to visit Mongolia and learn as much as I could about its people, customs and culture. While there, I rode on a camel, slept in a yurt, shot arrows, rode Mongolian horses, and visited temples and monasteries and palaces. I also drank mare’s milk, watched archery contests, and even bought a Mongolian del (robe) and lady’s hat. I found it fascinating!

2. When you researched this novel, did you discover anything that surprised you?

I was surprised to find that Xanadu was a real place, the site of Khubilai Khan’s summer palace.  It once had a marble palace, lovely gardens, flowering trees, winding brooks, pagodas and pavilions.  It was destroyed completely and is now in ruins.

3. You said in your author bio that having a Chinese husband inspired you to write about international love. Has he inspired your writing in other ways?

My husband, Paul Yang, suggested I write a novel about Marco Polo, who was the first European to visit China and write a book about his experience there. Marco stayed in China 17 years and never mentioned a love affair; he was a young Italian male, and I suspect he found someone to love!  Since he didn’t mention it, I created a love interest for him.  Once I imagined this young woman, I wanted to tell the story from her perspective. Most books don’t speak from an Asian female point of view.

4. You write for a YA audience. What made you decide to write for teenagers?

I’ve noticed that both teenagers and adults enjoy Daughter of Xanadu. Teenagers, though, are much more open to unusual settings because they are growing up in a multicultural society and a global world. The YA genre is booming, with some great literature, and it’s an exciting time to write for it.

5. If you could choose just one thing you want your readers to get out of this book, what would it be?

I hope readers will find Daughter of Xanadu lively and fun, a story that takes them far from their daily life. However, underneath lies a message about the importance of getting to know people from distant lands because it opens our minds and broadens our worldview.

6. What will the sequel be about?

The sequel, Son of Venice, continues the story of Emmajin and Marco and includes a journey, a battle, heightened romance, an archery contest, and some serious choices by both Marco and Emmajin. It is scheduled to be published in May 2012.
Fashion show at conference

7. Tell us a little bit about your upcoming book, "Voices of the Second Wave."

Voices of the Second Wave is a totally different kind of book!  It is a collection of 35 life stories of Chinese Americans who came to the United States in the 1950s and 1960s.  Many people have heard the stories of the Chinese immigrants who built the railroads, mined for gold, and ran laundries and restaurants; few know of this “second wave” generation, who came as university students and were unable to return home because of war and revolution. I wanted to interview people from this generation and ensure that their stories were heard.

 I welcome readers to visit my website,

Thank you so much, Dori! I can't wait to read your upcoming books.

1 comment:

  1. Great interview!

    Being Chinese myself, I loved reading Daughter of Xanadu; there are relatively few YA books set in China, or in a world with parallels to it.

    Voices of the Second Wave sounds like a fascinating book!


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