I am so excited to be part of the Huntress Blog tour and to have the opportunity to interview the talented Malinda Lo. Enjoy!
1. Huntress is a novel set in the same world as Ash, but at a completely different time. How would you describe the differences in the characters' worlds?
ML:At the very beginning of Ash, a little bit of the world's history is explained, specifically the arrival of philosophers from the Empire of Concordia. Some readers of Ash may also remember that the Queen in that book is actually Concordian.
Before the philosophers arrived with their version of science, magic was much more widespread in the Kingdom. Huntress is set in this time — well before Concordia made any inroads into the culture of the Kingdom, and during a time when magic was thoroughly institutionalized in the society.
Additionally, Huntress feels more Asian culturally, because that's what the Kingdom was like before the Concordians came.
2. A strong heroine makes a story worth reading. You offer readers two. How would you describe Kaede and Taisin?
ML: Kaede is the magic-less daughter of the King's Chancellor, the younger sister to three older brothers, and a tomboy. She is in training at the Academy of Sages because that's where all high-born girls are sent regardless of whether they have any talents with magic. I think she's self-aware and loyal, qualities I really admire.
Taisin is a farmer's daughter who was admitted into the Academy because she is so talented with magic. She's basically there on a scholarship, and because of that she feels that she has a responsibility to work hard and ultimately become a sage. Even though she is so gifted, she has never truly been asked to perform under pressure, and during Huntress she has to do just that.
3. At the conclusion of Huntress, you leave the door open for more exploration into this world. Do you plan on continuing with the journey of these characters?
ML: I don't have plans to write any more books set in this world right now, but I have written a short story called "The Fox," which is about Kaede and is set two years after the end of Huntress. It was just published by Subterranean Magazine and is now available online for everyone to read for free (http://subterraneanpress.com/index.php/magazine/summer-2011/fiction-the-fox-by-malinda-lo/). I think you can read it before or after reading Huntress, but if you're super concerned about spoilers you should read Huntress first.
4. Did you have to do much research for Huntress?
ML: I just love research, so I couldn't help reading a bunch of stuff I probably didn't need to read! I read about Chinese medicine, for example, thinking that I'd use a lot more of it in the book than I actually did. I read Zen in the Art of Archery, a book from the 1950s about a Westerner who learns the Japanese art of kyudo (archery). That came up quite a lot in Huntress.
The magic in Huntress is based in Taoism and qigong, so I read about Chinese philosophy (including the Dao De Jing) and the practice of qigong, which is a kind of martial art that involves the manipulation of qi (energy) through movement and breath. There's just endless amounts of stuff you could read about these things, and the hard part was knowing when I could stop researching and just write, since it's fiction, not an academic paper!
5. Lastly, what do you do in your free time? Any guilty pleasures?
ML: These days my free time has become very precious, and I can tell you exactly what I do with it: I watch The Vampire Diaries or Top Chef or Battlestar Galactica (the latter on Netflix — I'm rewatching BSG from the beginning and I'm now about halfway through season 1 again). I used to watch a lot more TV when I was a TV reporter, and for a long time I couldn't stand to watch it anymore. But now that I can choose what I watch, it's a lot more fun. I don't think I really feel guilty about it, though!
Malinda, thanks for taking the time to interview with me and congratulations on your new release!