Sunday, December 22, 2013

Move over Legend of Korra and make way for The Legend of Kira -Author Ellen Oh sits down w/ Twinja Book Reviews

We heard about this lovely author after a very emotional blog post she wrote, Why being a POC author sucks sometimes. In that post she spoke candidly about how invisible one can feel being an Author of Color. After further probing, we found out that she's really, really, REALLY passionate about multiculturalism in books, tv shows, hell all types of media! Any author who speaks so freely on diversity in books is bound to catch our attention and that's exactly what she did! So now we'd like to open the floor for the outspoken, the driven, the passionate....... Ellen Oh

1.Please Ellen, tell the readers of Twinja Book Reviews who you are and what urged you to become an author?

Thank you for having me here! Well, I was a practicing attorney for 15 years before turning to academia and writing. I left the law to focus on teaching and writing and now I get to live this fabulous life writing books I love and getting paid for it!

2.Your latest book, The Prophecy takes place in a fictional Korea that appears to be an all Asian cast of characters. Was it a tough sell to publishers?

Although it was a long road to publishing, filled with people who told me that no one would ever buy a book based in ancient Korea, when I actually went on submission with what is now Prophecy, it sold in a week. I was incredibly lucky to have found the absolute best editor out there for my book. She loved Prophecy and believed in the trilogy. I am so grateful that Joe Monti, who was my agent at the time, put me together with Phoebe Yeh, my editor. It has been the best thing that ever happened to me!

3.I really connected to the main protagonist Kira because for 1. She was a very strong female protagonist and 2. Because she wasn't written too "strong" to the point that it wasn't unbelievable. She was a woman who showed flaws and weaknesses and i believe that's why she really spoke to me.What was your inspiration for creating Kira that way?

To be honest, it is our flaws and weaknesses that make us interesting. No one wants a perfect hero that can do no wrong. What do you root for? I wrote Kira because I’d been looking for a main character that I could relate to for a long time. Kira is an amalgam of so many people. She’s every girl who was ever told by a male that she couldn’t do something. She’s every Asian girl who ever wished they could be the hero of their own story. She’s every kid who wanted parents that loved them for who they were and not who the parents wanted them to be. She’s every person who lives with doubts and insecurities and finds a way to rise above their own limitations. She has faults and insecurities just like all of us. It’s what makes her likeable. But of course, I am biased! ;o)

( P.S.Check out the cool fan art artists drew of her main protagonist. Kira! l. by artist Joni @Lace and Fog , r. by artist Natalie Whipple @Between Fact and Fiction )

4.I have to admit that while reading The Prophecy, I couldn't help thinking that it would appeal to fans of "The Legend of Korra".Are a fan of the whole Avatar series?If so, who's been your favorite character so far?

I am a HUGE Avatar fan. Let me share with you my prized possession:

Jealous? :o)

So yeah, I am a huge fan of The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. Funny story, one of the titles that we had played around with was The Legend of Kira. And then we heard that The Legend of Korra was coming out and had to scratch that idea off in a hurry. For me, picking favorites is always hard. In the Last Airbender, my favorite characters were both Sokka and Uncle Iroh. In Korra, my favorite character has to be Police Chief Lin Beifong. I want to be her when I grow up.

5.What inspired the world you created for "The Prophecy"? And what were some of your favorite myths and legends from your parents or grandparents culture?

I used a lot of legends and myths of Korea. One of the most famous legend is the story of the Rock of the Falling Flowers. It is a cliff in the old Paekche kingdom where 3,000 court ladies leapt to their deaths when faced with the invading Tang and Shilla army. Their colorful hanboks made them look like falling flowers – hence the name.
  To be honest though, there are a lot of Korean myths that are all about the sacrifice of women. I kind of hated that. A woman was a hero solely because of their sacrifice. I wanted to change that. Kira is a hero not because she sacrifices, but because she fights. Because she stands up to men and becomes the best person that she can be. And that was important to me.

6.I know it's hard to truly capture the amazingness that is your imagination, but if you had a dream cast of actors to portray the characters of "The Prophecy" in a small or silver screen project, who would you cast?

I don’t think I could cast Prophecy as a live action movie. What I would love to see instead is an animated movie or even a graphic novel version of Prophecy. That would actually be my dream come true.

7.You seem to talk A LOT about diversity in books and over here at Twinja Book Reviews, it's allllll we ever talk about. Why do you believe diversity is so important in books?

Oi! I could write a book just answering this question!!

I am a woman of color. I am used to feeling marginalized by our media, our education system, our entertainment industry, our corporate world, etc. But I hate it. And I want my girls to have different experiences from me. But they don’t. And this breaks my heart. The truth is sexism and racism are still very much a part of our social, political, economic landscape. Change happens slowly. But it can happen. If all of us demand it. If we let our voices be heard. If we tell not just publishers (they ARE publishing diverse books) but librarians and booksellers and parents and the media that diversity is important.

Somebody once said that a woman’s words are only heard if they are spoken by a white man. It feels the same for minorities. For example, I know of a lovely book with a Korean American main character that was published this year and written by a Korean American author. But no one knows of that book. Instead, the most famous Korean American character in a book is from Eleanor and Park written by a white woman. In a list of books about Asian fantasy, there were no Asian authors listed, only white ones. Why are we always overlooked?

It isn’t enough to preach for diversity in our books. We need to see more diversity in publishing in general. More diversity in published authors, editors, booksellers, librarians, marketing, etc. It’s not just that our kids need to see more representation of themselves in the books. They also need to see more representation of themselves BEHIND the books.

8. Picture your 3 main characters.....Now picture them being "Carnival rides". Which carnival rides would your characters be and why?

9. What can we expect next from Ellen Oh?

Warrior, the second book in the Prophecy series, comes out December 31st of this year! And King, the final book, will be out December 31st of 2014. It’s an exciting time for me!

10. Finally where can anyone interested in learning more about you gain access to your updates, future releases and connect with you?

I am always on tumblr. I think I’m addicted. And I love asks on tumblr, although I don’t get many. So feel free to ask me anything on tumblr. I also have a website where there are events listed (that reminds me, I must go update!) and a blogger blog where I post occasionally. I love hearing from readers so please don’t be shy!
Prophecy Series Facebook Page

Win Ellen Oh's book bundle! Enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Post a Comment

Thanks for leaving awesome comments!We appreciate and reply to everyone!