Hi everyone I hope you’re doing well!! I’m so excited because this post is a mini interview with June CL Tan, AKA the author of my new favourite book. This Q & A answers some questions that I had for June and also some questions you may have, I hope you enjoy reading it!!
If you didn’t know, Jade Fire Gold is June’s debut novel and is hitting the shelves on 12th October in the US (that’s my birthday, yes I will not stop talking about that) and 4th November in the UK. The story follows a peasant girl with deadly powers, and a lost prince who lost everything when he was younger, and is deemed to be dead. At fists Altan (the lost prince) sees Ahn (the magical peasant girl) as merely a means to an end, but later they both start feeling something else. They must work together to help their empire from the clutches of war, or else everything will be destroyed. The book also has a sapphic side couple- and they’re not just token characters! It also contains so much angst and the story is very culturally rich. I was lucky enough to be granted an ARC of Jade Fire Gold and needless to say, it is my new favourite book.
Now let’s get started with the Q & A : )
Author Q & A:
What are some of your favourite books that you read when you were a kid?
You know how someone asks you a simple question and then your mind goes blank? XD I’m probably leaving some books out, but when I was growing up, there wasn’t a distinct “YA” category and honestly, I just read all sorts of books so my favorites were not really “kidlit”. One of my favorite authors was (and still is) Neil Gaiman, and I love Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods, and the Sandman graphic novels. I also loved (and love) Le Petit Prince and the His Dark Materials trilogy, and I also read and re-read Lord of the Rings A LOT.
If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be?
I would spend a day with Tang Wei! She’s a chaos knife lesbian who ran away from home to seek revenge for her younger sister, but far from being all angsty and grumpy (like one of the main characters, Altan, haha), she’s fun to be with and super witty. We’d go shopping and hit up a bunch of cafes to eat desserts : )
Have you drastically changed a character or scene in your book while editing?
My favorite character in Jade Fire Gold is Xima Leiye, and he’s a character that changed quite drastically after one particularly big round of revisions when I decided to pull apart the story and rewrite almost half of it. He was kind of a random side character who was just there, but didn’t serve much purpose, so I rebuilt him from scratch and folded his character into the plot. Because of his new backstory, I think the other characters and the plot were strengthened, and I was more able to tell the story I wanted to tell. I had a lot of fun writing him, too!
Which fictional character do you relate most with?
Hmm…this is a really tough question! I’m going to think of the question in terms of which fictional character a younger me (i.e. teen June) would relate most to, and it would be Ronan Lynch from The Raven Cycle series. While our personalities aren’t that similar (I’m way nicer! haha), I think teen me would understand why he is the way he is and what drives his actions and behaviour.
When you started writing Jade Fire Gold, which did you plan out first; the plot or the characters?
I think I tend to be a more character-driven sort of writer in the sense that it’s always the characters that come to my head first, and not necessarily the main characters sometimes. For Jade Fire Gold, the character of Ahn came first, and then a rough overarching plot — which was basically the beginning (how things were in her world, who she was, etc.) and the end (the main twist and what happens to Ahn). The middle of the story was more difficult to piece together, but it was mostly informed by the characters and how I felt their individual stories should be laid out and intertwined.
If there was one thing you could have told yourself when you’d just started out writing, what would it be?
1. your skin isn’t as thick as you think it is – grow thicker skin haha
2. you will never be able to please all readers, so write for the most important reader in your life — yourself
What’s some advice you would give to new and upcoming authors, especially teenage authors?
Write and keep writing! Read widely – not just in the genre/category you want to write in. Experiment – write scenes, short stories, fanfic, a song, poetry, essays…the point is to figure out your writing style and voice. We always start out “copying” our favourite authors or being heavily influenced by them, and that’s totally fine! Eventually, try to figure out what your writing style and storytelling vibe is. Remember that it’s an on-going process, so don’t limit yourself or pigeon-hole yourself. I’m still exploring and figuring out what makes a story a “June CL Tan story” and how my own writing voice works. The key is to level up with each piece of writing.
Which song describes Ahn and Altan’s relationship?
This is a great question! I don’t really have a song that describes their relationship lyrics wise, but maybe the feels of Zhang Bichen’s Direction of Light? It’s the opening song to The Long Ballad (c-drama), and if you’re curious, here’s a fanmade MV – I love the vibes because it’s just characters gazing into the distance or at each other, looking angry/sad/confused/angsty and hot haha
Thank you so much for doing this with me June!!
Find June CL Tan At:
About June CL Tan:
June CL Tan grew up in Singapore where she was raised on a diet of classic books and wuxia movies, caffeine and congee. She holds various degrees in communication studies, education, and film. After teaching for a few years, she took a detour into the finance industry. To no one’s surprise, she soon realized her mistake and made her escape. Now, she resides in New York City, talking to imaginary people and creating fantastical worlds under the watchful eye of her crafty cat. She enjoys telling stories that draw on both the traditional and modern to create something fresh to the eye, but familiar to the heart. Jade Fire Gold is her debut novel.