The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

Tag: Fantasy

Book Review: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

Review by Tess Tabak

 

This debut novel by Julie Dao is the first book in the Rise of the Empress series. The series explores the imagined youth of Snow White’s Evil Queen in an East Asian-inspired fantasy setting. Xifeng, the protagonist, is a strong, complex young woman struggling to choose between a path of light and dark. She knows the right thing to do, but a voice inside of her urges her on towards evil.

There’s a lot to praise about this novel: Xifeng, our heroine, is strong and powerful, but at the same time she is not immune to the culture and mores of her time. She has to be careful to seem humble and ladylike as she forges her way towards becoming the next Empress of Feng Lu. At the same time, she is more spirited than the women in classic fairy tales. She propels herself by her own choices, not quietly accepting what the world throws at her. Another divergence from the norms: following her destiny for greatness means leaving behind Wei, Xifeng’s handsome boyfriend who longs to marry her and live a quiet life together. We are told that Wei is meant to play some role in Xifeng’s fate, but it’s clear that Xifeng’s journey will be more about realizing her destiny than finding her one true love. Continue reading

Q&A with author Rori Shay

Rori Shay, author of the Elected series, has a new short story in the upcoming anthology Athena’s Daughter’s 2, an all-female sci-fi and fantasy anthology from Silence in the Library Publishing. Athena’s Daughter’s 2 is now available for pre-order.

We talked to Rori Shay about her writing process, her influences, and her upcoming work.

 

Q: Could you tell us a bit about your upcoming story “The Pendant” in Athena’s Daughter’s 2?

A: Sure!  It’s a prequel to the ELECTED trilogy.  It’s about a mom who’s asked to give up her most valuable possession to aid in her son’s quest.  The thing is, she doesn’t agree with what her son’s about to do, and his quest leaves the country without a leader.  It’s a story about duty versus desire and a mother’s love.
Q: Your short story “The Pendant” is based on a longer work of yours, “ELECTED.” How do you approach a short story differently than a novel?

A: It is a totally different process.  For the longer novels, of which there are three in the Elected Series, I wrote a detailed outline for each one.  For the short story I just had an idea of what would happen and got right into writing.

 

Q: Do you have any advice for authors who are struggling to write their first novel?

My advice for first time authors is to create an outline.  It doesn’t have to be much, just the bare bones of the story.  Then keep adding to it, and make breaks for chapters after anything major happens.

 

Q: Do you remember the first piece of sci-fi you ever wrote? What was it about and when did you write it?

A: Yep, it was ELECTED.  Before that book, I’d only ever written children’s picture books and a women’s fiction novel.  I got really into the dystopian books for YA and decided to create my own in which I delved into the science.  I got tired of reading about dystopias where you had to guess how the earth was ruined.  I wanted to tell readers exactly how it happened and weave in climate change as an important topic.

 

Q: What are some of the books that you read growing up? How do you think they influenced your later writing, if they did?

A: Roald Dahl.  I’ve read almost everything he’s written, and his style and creativity definitely influenced my writing.

 

Q: What do you suggest we do to increase representation of women in sci-fi and fantasy?

A: Read them!  Support them!  Let them know that men aren’t the only techy sciencey people who can write sci-fi and fantasy!  Women can write it too!  Girl Power!

 

Rori Shay is a strategic management consultant living in the Seattle area with her family, black lab, and cat.  In the writing world, Rori is primarily know for her science fiction trilogy,The Elected Series.  She enjoys running, reading, snow-shoeing, pumpkin-picking, and right now…writing the third ELECTED novel!  Rori is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

You can follow Rori on Twitter at @RoriShayWrites or email her directly at rorishay(@)gmail (dot)com.

Q&A With Megan O’Russell

The Furious Gazelle spoke with author Megan O’Russell about her recent novel, The Tethering, and her upcoming short story in Athena’s Daughter’s II, and what makes her furious.

 

Q: The Tethering is your first novel. Where did the inspiration to write it come from, and what was the process of writing it like?

The TetheringThe process for writing The Tethering was a little strange and not something I would necessarily repeat. The idea for The Tethering came from a little boy waiting in a window for a girl to come back. I don’t really remember why that image came to me, but I needed to find out more about the boy. I wrote a scene and then another scene, and after a lot of revisions and changes, The Tethering was born. In projects since The Tethering, I’ve kept much closer track of what I’ve written so I don’t rewrite the same information ten times. I’m still finding the process that works best for me.

 

Q: Your upcoming short story in Athena’s Daughter’s II is based on the world of the Tethering. What were some of the challenges you faced creating a new story in the same world? Do you have plans to return to the Tethering world again?

My story in Athena’s Daughters 2, “At the Corner of the Garden Wall,” actually takes place during The Tethering. And if you read both stories, it is easy to see where the two line up. Claire, the girl featured in “At the Corner of the Garden Wall,” is a secondary character in The Tethering, but I have been told many times that everyone wants to know more about her. This story is Claire’s chance to have an adventure all her own. The biggest challenge was deciding what parts of the world of The Tethering were really necessary for the short story. If I had tried to explain everything about how magic works in “At the Corner of the Garden Wall,” I wouldn’t have had room for the actual story. I also had to refrain from getting too in depth with the setting. I know who lives where in the house, but the readers don’t need that information. So it all had to be cut.

And as for returning to The Tethering, book two in the four part series, The Siren’s Realm, will be available for preorder in February, so I am very much still in the world of The Tethering.

Q: How do you approach world building? When you started writing The Tethering, how much of the world did you plan out before you started writing?

I knew what I wanted. I wanted wizards to mix with our world. I didn’t want them to be separated from us. I wanted readers to believe that the sewer grate at the end of the street might be exploding because of magic. Figuring out the how and the why of it all was one of my greatest joys in writing the series.

Q: Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote? What was it about and when did you write it?

I wrote a middle grade fantasy novel when I was in high school. I’m an actor by trade, and I wrote the story backstage during King Lear. I think writing and acting really go hand in hand. They are both wonderful forms of storytelling. And I am so grateful to have the opportunity to follow both passions.

Q: What are some of the books that you read growing up? How do you think they influenced your later writing, if they did?

I was such an avid reader my parents had to use both of their library cards so I could have enough books to only go to the library once a week. One of my favorite authors was Madeline L’Engle. I think from her writing I not only took away a sense of wonder, but also the desire to let my characters be who they need to be, even if I have to write another story for them to have that opportunity.

Q: What makes you furious about the lack of female science-fiction and fantasy authors published? How do you think we can increase representation of women in sci-fi and fantasy?

When I was looking for a home for The Tethering, the publisher I worked with briefly before Silence in the Library didn’t understand that the story was about more than romance. All they could see was the boy and the girl. The magic meant nothing to them. I was lucky enough to have a supportive editor who didn’t try to make me cut all the fantasy elements from The Tethering, but it was still rough. Because I am a woman, and there was love in my book, all it was to them was a romance. Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean all I can write is teenage angst. And just because a boy loves a girl doesn’t mean there isn’t more to the story.

I am so grateful I found Silence in the Library and a true home for The Tethering. I am also thrilled to be a part of a project that strives to give more women a voice in fantasy and science-fiction. I think the best thing we can do to increase representation of women in sci-fi and fantasy is to support more projects like Athena’s Daughters 2. The only way for women to find their voice is to be given the chance to speak.

 

Megan O’Russell is thrilled to be publishing At the Corner of the Garden Wall with Silence in the Library. At the Corner of the Garden Wall is a part of The Tethering series, book one of which is currently available from SitL. And if you read The Tethering closely, you’ll find the night on which the adventure in the garden happens. Originally from New York, Megan is a professional actress who spends her time traveling the country for different shows. When not on stage or writing, Megan spends time with her beloved ukulele and her wonderful husband. To follow Megan’s writing adventures, you can visit her website at meganorussell.com.

Add The Tethering to your Goodreads list at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21480311-the-tethering

Athena’s Daughters II is now available for pre-order on Kickstarter.

Follow Megan O’Russell on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ORussellauthor or on Twitter @MeganORussell

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