Author Interview: Magic, Writing & Durians; A Conversation With Christina Soontornvat, Author of MG Thai-inspired Fantasy, A WISH IN THE DARK

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The air is woody and crisp as you step into the Pond. You’re up early today, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated by the morning breeze. Closer in, you notice Sprout’s little plant bobbing up and down behind a bush, glowing faintly. You smile, and make your way towards them to say hello.

As you grow closer, you notice a stream of water that wasn’t there in all your visits to the Pond. The small, shallow river gurgles cheerfully, seemingly connecting the Pond to streams beyond. You notice something else too, by the spot where Sprout is sitting: something luminous in the water, reflecting the light of the morning sun.  Sprout notices you as you curiously walk forward, and waves an enthusiastic hello.

“Good morning, friend! Have you eaten your breakfast?”

carpAs you affirm their question, the light in the river pokes its head out of the water. It’s a carp! Its iridescent scales seem to glitter a hundred different colors at once.

“Friend, this is Christina!” Sprout introduces. “She’s visiting the Pond today to tell us all about her new book, A Wish in the Dark. I had the opportunity of reading it just before it was published, and it’s become one of my favorite stories! It was about so many things—about mangoes, and revolutions, and light, while still being a fun adventure through a world filled with magic. Will you come and listen to us for a while?”

Well, how could you refuse a carp that glitters? You settle down next to Sprout, and prepare yourself to listen to Sprout and Christina discuss this wonderful new book.

Welcome back to the Pond, friends! Today is a special, special day here for all of us, because this is my first author interview here at the Pond (and also in my blogging career)!

Sprout the sparrow, wearing an agender-coloured cape (dark grey, grey, white, green, white, grey) with a little green sapling on their head.I was very blessedly sent a digital ARC of A Wish in the Dark by Candlewick Press earlier this year, and though I had only a passing interest in the story when I found the book on Goodreads, I ended up reading the whole book in one sitting after I read the first chapter! It was such a brilliant middle-grade adventure with so much to say about important, complex topics like revolution and justice. I genuinely hope that more readers consider picking it up, because it completely stole my heart!

I’m so honored to have Christina here with us at the Pond today, and hope you enjoy the interview ahead of us: Christina’s responses are an absolute delight to read. But first, let me tell you what A Wish in the Dark is all about, too!

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The Iron Will of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee – Perhaps The Most Satisfying Ending of a Series I Have Read – Ever

The Iron Will of Genie Lo. F.C. Yee.

Blurb:

Genie Lo thought she was busy last year, juggling her academic career with protecting the Bay Area from demons. But now, as the Heaven-appointed Guardian of California, she’s responsible for the well-being of all yaoguai and spirits on Earth. Even the ones who interrupt her long-weekend visit to a prestigious college, bearing terrible news about a cosmos-threatening force of destruction in a nearby alternate dimension.

The goddess Guanyin and Genie’s boyfriend, Quentin Sun Wukong, do their best to help, but it’s really the Jade Emperor who’s supposed to handle crises of this magnitude. Unfortunately for Genie and the rest of existence, he’s gone AWOL. Fed up with the Jade Emperor’s negligence, Genie spots an opportunity to change the system for the better by undertaking a quest that spans multiple planes of reality along with an adventuring party of quarrelsome Chinese gods. But when faced with true danger, Genie and her friends realize that what will save the universe this time isn’t strength, but sacrifice.

CW’s review:

In case you don’t know, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee is an incredible book about a girl named Genie Lo, who discovers that she’s the reincarnation of a powerful celestial weapon. This book, after so many years, remains to be one of my favourite books of all time.

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The Rise of Kyoshi by F.C. Yee – Listen Up, Avatar Fans: Kyoshi’s Origin Story Shines and Soars with Aang and Korra’s Stories

The Rise of Kyoshi by F.C. Yee. A badge at the bottom-left that says, 'Reviewed by CW, The Quiet Pond'. In the centre is a image of Xiaolong, the pink axolotl wearing a flower hat, waving at you.

Blurb:

F. C. Yee’s The Rise of Kyoshi delves into the story of Kyoshi, the Earth Kingdom-born Avatar. The longest-living Avatar in this beloved world’s history, Kyoshi established the brave and respected Kyoshi Warriors, but also founded the secretive Dai Li, which led to the corruption, decline, and fall of her own nation. The first of two novels based on Kyoshi, The Rise of Kyoshi maps her journey from a girl of humble origins to the merciless pursuer of justice who is still feared and admired centuries after she became the Avatar.

CW’s review:

I love the Avatar series. I loved Aang’s story and the lessons the show taught me as a young teen in Avatar: The Last Airbender. I also loved Korra’s story and the social discourse and confronting questions that the story posed in Legend of Korra. As a fan of both series and the Avatar universe, I had my trepidations about The Rise of Kyoshi. I knew that in the hands of Yee, author of one of my favourite YA book series of all time, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, that he would do a fantastic job telling Kyoshi’s story. But, of course, like any fan who was gravely disappointed by the live action film (the way six earthbenders bended that one miserable and poorly animated rock still haunts me to do this day), I think it’s fair to feel a little apprehensive of any addition to the Avatar universe.

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Five Reasons To Read: The Green Bones Saga by Fonda Lee – Love Asian-Inspired Fantasy, Gangster Family Dramas, and Martial Arts? (And Pain?) Read Jade City!

Left: Jade City, Fonda Lee; tagline: family is duty, magic is power, honor is everything. Right: Jade War, Fonda Lee; tagline: magic divides, power corrupts, family endures.

I know, I know. How could I be talking about Jade City again? Well, I am thrilled to inform you that I will never shut up about this series because it is my favourite series in existence.

Jade War, my new favourite book and the sequel to my then-favourite book of all time Jade City, is out today! Happy book birthday, Jade War! 🎂 I had the immense pleasure and privilege to read Jade War before its release (thanks to Fonda Lee for sending me an ARC!) and you read my glowing and 100% spoiler-free review of Jade War here!

But what if you have only just heard about this series or need more reasons to pick this up? What if you need motivation? Well, to celebrate the release of Jade War, here are give five awesome reasons you should pick up this heart-pounding and stellar series.

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Five Reasons To Read: An Ember in the Ashes Series – A Stunning YA Fantasy That Never Fails to Surprise, Excite, and Cause Immeasurable Pain

Text: An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir.

If you haven’t heard about this series, allow me to introduce to you this incredible YA high fantasy series: An Ember in the Ashes is a fantasy that follows Laia, a girl who agrees to spy for the rebellion in exchange for their help to free her brother, and Elias, a soldier of the Martial Empire who wants nothing more than to be free from the tyranny he’s been trained to enforce. Together, their destinies will collide, setting course for a whirlwind of a journey and challenges they would have never imagined.

I love this series immensely, and I have enjoyed every single book in this quartet, with each instalment getting better and better. Read More »