Author: Julie Dao

Friday, October 27, 2017

What Julie Dao Learned While Writing Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

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Hey everyone! Welcome to Xpresso Reads’ tour stop for FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS. If you’re a fan of complex heroes & anti-heroes, this book should 110% be on your TBR. Today, we have Julie Dao on the blog talking about what she learned while writing FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS.

What Julie Dao Learned While Writing Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS is about a villain’s rise to power – or at least, Xifeng would be considered a villain in any other book where she wasn’t the star. Here, she is a dark and ambitious antiheroine who will let nothing stand in her way on the path to the throne!

As a result, the most common question I get is: was it hard writing such a dark and violent character when I’m so nice? And my answer is always: no! It was quite easy to get into Xifeng’s head. I did worry when I first started writing the book that she was too much for me to handle. She is unlike any other character I’ve ever written, after all. The people in my books always have more goodness and light than they do darkness, but for some reason I began drafting the book in 2015 and Xifeng slipped onto the page as smoothly as a serpent. (Ha!)

That was my bizarre discovery: that I am capable of writing someone so completely morally different from me. I often run over conversations in my head again and again, worrying about whether I had offended the other person or hurt their feelings unknowingly, and here is a main character who will literally kill anyone who stands in her way.

I also think it was easier for me to step away from her ruthlessness because I wrote the book in third-person. The whole time, I had a healthy distance between me the author and her the character. I think it would have been difficult had I written the book in first-person, where I would have had to put myself directly into her shoes.

The key, for me, was that Xifeng *is* a part of me in some ways: I share her drive, her determination, and her ambition, so I understood her on a basic level. It’s where our morals come in that we differ entirely!

About the Book

What Julie Dao Learned While Writing Forest of a Thousand LanternsForest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie Dao
Published by Philomel Books on October 10th, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Retellings, YA
Buy on Amazon

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.

About the Author

Julie C. Dao ( is a proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York. She studied medicine in college, but came to realize blood and needles were her Kryptonite. By day, she worked in science news and research; by night, she wrote books about heroines unafraid to fight for their dreams, which inspired her to follow her passion of becoming a published author. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is her debut novel. Julie lives in New England. Follow her on Twitter @jules_writes.


Three (3) winners receive:
One (1) hardcover copy of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on October 2, 2017 and 12:00 AM on October 23, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about October 25, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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