I’m excited to introduce my interview with Ken Liu, author of The Dandelion Dynasty epic fantasy series, The Paper Menagerie and more.
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
It varies. Things are very different when I’m in the revision stage vs when I’m drafting, for example. In general, I try to make every day a mix of creative work and business matters so that nothing is neglected.
What makes a great character?
Readers need to know what the character wants and why. That is, in my view, the single most important thing in compelling characterization.
What elements of fantasy make you like reading and writing in the genre?
All literature is based on the logic of metaphors — it’s the foundation of narrative. Fantasy, however, tends to be explicit about this (rather than implicit as in the case of “realist” literature). I like working with tangible metaphors.
Your series, The Dandelion Dynasty continues to increase in popularity, especially in the online book community! Have you had any memorable interactions with readers since the publication of book one, The Grace of Kings?
Oh, gosh, I’ve been amazed by how the series keeps on finding new readers. It always makes me so happy when a reader takes the time to write to me to tell me how much the series meant to them, and how they’ve found their own home in Dara. I feel very lucky that this world that I labored to realize over a decade has now become real not just in my mind, but in the minds of so many readers.
Will there be any more books in The Dandelion Dynasty world?
Unlikely. I put so much of my heart and soul into the series, and I feel like I’ve finished telling the story I wanted to tell. But Dara is always changing, and it is a vast world with countless stories in it. Maybe someday I’ll want to return to tell some of those tales.
If you could be any fantasy character, who would it be and why?
A scholar in the Oxford of The Golden Compass. To be able to converse with my soul while investigating the mysteries of a world on the verge of modernity … it would be so thrilling.
When did you start reading? And what books/series did you read over and over again?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read … the one book I’ve read more times than any other is Momo, by Michael Ende, followed by Milton’s Paradise Lost.
What are some of your favourite recent reads?
Kate Elliott’s Servant Mage pulls off a seemingly impossible feat: an epic fantasy in novella form. Also, the magic in this world is so vivid, so beautifully rendered, that I can only gape at it in amazement. As well, Caroline Yoachim’s collection, Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World, is stunning. The stories, superb in concept as well as in execution, will stay with me for a long time.
What do you enjoy doing outside of writing and reading?
I love repairing and modding old handheld game consoles. There’s something deeply satisfying in working with old hardware and giving it a new life.
If you only had one piece of advice to give to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Find your own path. There are countless career paths out there for writers, but only you can figure out the most interesting road for yourself.
Are you working on any new books or other projects at the moment?
Right now, I’m spending a lot of creative energy on short fiction (a nice change of pace from the epic fantasy novels). I’ve already completed a few short stories that I’m very pleased with. I also have some bigger projects in the works, and I can’t wait to share them with readers!
Thank you very much for the interview.
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