We've had the pleasure of being both beta readers and reviewers of 3 of this amazing author's novels. Based in Taiwan, Aya Ling incorporates To die for heroines, fantastical settings and superb storytelling like nobodies business!
1.Why don't you spend the next few minutes telling everyone about yourself and a bit about your published works.
I was a rabid bibliophile before I started writing—I read all kinds of books, including both Chinese and English, which had a strong impact on my writing. My Princess books, which are pseudo-European medieval fantasies, have a bit of Taiwanese obsession with food : ) And my new book, Girl with Flying Weapons, has an independent, self-reliant heroine who is more like the women I’ve read in Western classics (Jane Eyre, for example)
2.With your Princesses series, you focus storytelling built around strong young women in far off kingdoms.What was your inspiration for your world and all the characters you've created in it?
They were inspired by my long-term consumption of girls’ stories in which the heroine rejects “feminine” traits. Since reading about “George” in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series and Jo March in Little Women, I’ve always believed that girls should emulate men to be strong. It was only much later that I realized there was so much more to the definition of being strong, and I wanted to create multi-faceted heroines who aren’t easily categorized.
3,Being that you're of Taiwanese descent and based in Taiwan, do you find it challenging writing stories featuring European inspired themes?What kind of research goes into your worldbuilding?
So far, I’ve not had any particular difficulty—I actually read more Western literature than Chinese stuff—there are so many more genres in English-language books! Still, I’m pretty sure that my characters don’t behave 100% Western. But I don’t think about that when writing, it’s hard enough trying to make characters sound interesting and behave like real people.
Research! I’ve tons of fun doing research. I drew upon my own cooking experiences when writing Princesses Don’t Get Fat—to this day I still can’t bake a perfect, uncracked cheesecake. For Princesses Don’t Fight in Skirts, I relied on Rosalie’s “Medieval Women” http://rosaliegilbert.com/index.html . For both books, I’ve also used The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy, The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference, and Life in a Medieval City/Life in a Medieval Castle.
4.Let's talk about your latest project, Girl with Flying Weapons. Not only did i love it, I'm awaiting the days when it becomes available for purchase!Tell us how you came up with that idea and what inspired it?
The story is adapted from “Legend of Hong Sien,” a short story written in Tang dynasty China. Even though the story is only a few paragraphs, I LOVED its portrayal of Hong Sien, so I decided to expand it, and it grew from a simple story to a multiple book series.
5.I have to say I fangirled over your character,Fang in your Girl of Flying Weapons series. It's rare when you read a male love interest that's of Asian ancestry. In fact the trend seems to be featuring female protagonists of Asian descent with Caucasian male love interests. I have to know were there any actors, models or famous figures you modeled your characters, Hong and Fang after?
I’m so glad you liked Fang! I liked the appeal of him and Hong being childhood friends, and also that he was her master but didn’t act as a dominant alpha male. I’m now itching to write more of him in the next book : )
More than a decade ago, I watched a Hong Kong TV drama called The Hitman Chronicles (you can see the trailer here), which had an assassin who usually wore simple clothes, but in her assassination missions, she dressed in fancy, elaborate costumes, carried a lute, and wielded a dagger. I thought that was pretty cool and so I kind of based Hong on her.
6. Have you faced any challenges as a writer of color or featuring characters of color in your writing?
Not really, but I think it will be more of a challenge if I wrote a story with an evident multi-cultural cast.
7. What were some of your favorite stories/myths in your culture growing up? Any western favorites?
Chinese: Definitely Jin Yong’s martial arts novels! He’s probably the most famous Chinese writer in popular culture, and I certainly wouldn’t have written Girl with Flying Weapons if I hadn’t read his novels before.
English: Enid Blyton was my favorite author when I was a child—her Faraway Tree and Wishing Chair books got me interested in fantasy when I was four! Later I fell in love with L. M. Montgomery’s books—her writing is beautiful and her characterization is so vivid, I wrote my master’s thesis on her. If I ever have the resources, I’d fly to P. E. Island.
8. Are there any themes, cultures or areas you'd like to explore in your future writings?
Most likely race and class issues in a fantasy setting, with strong/smart/resourceful heroines.
9. What's next for Aya Ling, The Author?
Win the lottery so I can write full time, lol.
But since that isn’t happening, now I’m trying to work with the time I have: I’m finishing the third Princess book, Princesses Don’t Become Engineers, and then I’ll write the next books in Girl with Flying Weapons. I get easily bored with the same project, though, so I may alternate between GWFW and some fairytale retellings, or maybe a fantasy based on elemental magic, inspired by anime. Recently I just got an idea for a NA contemporary romance as well! Too many ideas, too little time!
10. Where can potential readers read op more about you as well as your current and future projects?
Please visit my website: www.ayaling.com
Also like Aya's Facebook Page! : Aya Ling's Facebook
Aya is offering her the paperback version of her new book! Scroll down to enter for a chance to win!