Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Interview with Mary Fan for Stronger Than A Bronze Dragon

Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon

Publisher: Page Street Kids
Release Date: June 11th 2019

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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When a powerful viceroy arrives with a fleet of mechanical dragons and stops an attack on Anlei’s village, the villagers see him as a godsend. They agree to give him their sacred, enchanted River Pearl in exchange for permanent protection—if he’ll marry one of the village girls to solidify the alliance. Anlei is appalled when the viceroy selects her as a bride, but with the fate of her people at stake, she sees no choice but to consent. Anlei’s noble plans are sent into a tailspin, however, when a young thief steals the River Pearl for himself.

Knowing the viceroy won’t protect her village without the jewel, she takes matters into her own hands. But once she catches the thief, she discovers he needs the pearl just as much as she does. The two embark on an epic quest across the land and into the Courts of Hell, taking Anlei on a journey that reveals more is at stake than she could have ever imagined.

With incredibly vivid world building and fast-paced storytelling, Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon is great for readers who are looking for something fresh in epic fantasy.

Can you briefly describe STRONGER THAN A BRONZE DRAGON and their main characters? 

STRONGER THAN A BRONZE DRAGON takes place in a steampunk fantasyland loosely inspired by Qing Dynasty China. The main character, Anlei, lives in a small, rural village so remote, it often feels like the rest of the Empire has forgotten about them. For several years, shadow demons have stalked the village at night – including one with a distinctive mark that killed her father when she was a young girl. Now 17, Anlei is a member of the village guard and yearns to avenge her father. But though she risks her life for the community night after night, she’s always been somewhat isolated—her behaviours and attitudes don’t fit in. For instance, she can become hyper-focused on a task she needs to complete and forget about the rest of the world, which leads to others thinking of her as selfish. She also isn’t afraid to let people know when she’s angry. 

When a powerful viceroy arrives in the village and agrees to offer protection exchange for the sacred River Pearl, the village headman insists that the viceroy take one of the village women as a bride, since a marriage alliance would hold the viceroy to his word. To Anlei’s dismay, the viceroy picks her—meaning she has to leave her life of sword-fighting for a quiet life in a royal palace that she’s ill-suited for. But on the eve of the wedding, a thief named Tai steals the River Pearl – he needs it for a quest of his own. 

Anlei agrees to team up with Tai to fulfil his mission, with the agreement that he’ll return the pearl when he’s finished. Though she tells herself this is a logical compromise, it’s not lost on her that this could be her last chance at adventure. Unlike Anlei, Tai refuses to take anything seriously if he can help it, and his devil-may-care attitude often clashes with her more solemn one. What’s more, he refuses to divulge much about his identity or his past, which she finds frustrating. 

The two travel across the land and into the depths of Hell itself in a journey that will change both their lives forever. 

Who would you say is your favourite character from the story and why? 

Anlei’s my favourite, which is good since I had to spend a lot of time in her head! It’s because I wrote her completely unapologetically -- she’s got this blunt, unfiltered attitude, and she expresses her anger very directly. While writing her, I felt unrestrained – I wasn’t trying to make her fit in with some mould of “likable” determined by generations’ worth of patriarchal structures. And I didn’t care if that meant some people wouldn’t connect with her voice because they’re too accustomed to a certain level of niceness. At the same time, she’s more complex than she may seem on the surface. Part of her problem is that she’s not good at being vulnerable, and she’s not good at expressing herself outside of her anger. I had a lot of fun exploring these layers of her inner life while also getting to write the bold, unencumbered heroine I always wanted when I was a kid. 

How did the story occur to you? Did you find inspiration anywhere? 

The first idea for the story came from this idea for an unhappy Cinderella retelling I was toying with. You’ve got this working-class young woman who’s chosen by a powerful man to become royalty. But what if she never wanted to be a princess? What if she preferred her life the way it was, but had no choice in the matter? And what if Prince Charming was actually a controlling jerk who didn’t care about who she was – only what he wanted her to be? After all, he picked her solely based on looks. 

From there, it was a matter of figuring out why a powerful man would force a working-class girl to marry her – and why she’d agree to it if she was so opposed to the union. I also wanted to incorporate elements of a classic Hero’s Journey – the kind of fairy tale quest that’s usually about a white boy leaving home, becoming a knight of some kind, and discovering his destiny as a royal or aristocratic something-or-other. Except this time, it’s about an East Asian girl who’s already a knight in her own way, and the destiny she discovers isn’t what she thinks it will be. 

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be? 

Hm… for some reason “Warriors” by Imagine Dragons comes to mind. 

Summer is here and we love to go out and enjoy the sun. What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date? 

A grassy riverbank on a sunny day with a nice cold cup of taro-flavoured bubble tea 

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish STRONGER THAN A BRONZE DRAGON? 

If you’re looking for more steampunk/fantasy hybrid adventures, I highly recommend Karissa Laurel’s Stormbourne Chronicles (Heir of Thunder, Quest of Thunder, and Crown of Thunder—it’s a complete trilogy). A princess with latent powers goes on a continent-spanning journey to reclaim her throne from dark forces that threaten her kingdom… I’ve read the whole thing and it’s fantastic! 

What’s next for you? 

I’ve got a couple of works in progress going on right now, including the third and final instalment of my indie YA sci-fi series, Starswept, and the fourth volume of Brave New Girls (Brave New Girls: Adventures of Gals and Gizmos), an indie YA sci-fi anthology series I co-edit with Paige Daniels. I’m also in the middle of hammering out a draft for a YA sci-fi mystery about a teen engineering apprentice who revives a discarded humanlike AI… named Sherlock. So it’s a Sherlock Holmes retelling, but in space and with two teen girls (or rather, a teen girl and a synthetic life form who looks and acts alike a teen girl). So lots going on!

Mary Fan is a hopeless dreamer, whose mind insists on spinning tales of “what if.” As a music major in college, she told those stories through compositions. Now, she tells them through books—a habit she began as soon as she could pick up a pencil.

Mary lives in New Jersey and has a B.A. from Princeton University. When she’s not scheming to create new worlds, she enjoys kickboxing, opera singing, and blogging about everything having to do with books.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this opportunity :) I'm excited to check this book out, my go to genre has always been fantasy.