Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Interview with Elizabeth Lim for Spin the Dawn

Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars #1)

by Elizabeth Lim
Publisher: Knopf
Release Date: July 9th 2019
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
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Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she'll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There's just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia's task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor's reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

Can you briefly describe SPIN THE DAWN and their main characters? 

To provide for her family, a young seamstress disguises herself as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor. Her task to sew the legendary dresses of the sun, moon, and stars lead her on an adventure of danger and romance along a reimagined Silk Road. 

Maia Tamarin is a talented seamstress who yearns to become an imperial tailor for the emperor, but doesn’t even get a chance to have her work considered because she’s a girl. She’s a go-getter, absolutely loyal to her family, and a realist despite her incredible talent. One reader described her as a “cinnamon roll slytherin,” which I absolutely love. 

Lady Sarnai is the daughter of an enemy warlord and is betrothed to Emperor Khanujin. She’s a fierce warrior who despises having to play princess at court. Don’t mess with her. 

Emperor Khanujin is the ruler of A’landi. Not much can be said about him without too many spoilers!  

Edan is the emperor’s lord enchanter. He gets bored easily and enjoys playing pranks on the emperor’s ministers. 

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

I think I’m the most like Maia, the main character, but Lady Sarnai’s actually my favorite character. She’s so fierce and so…Slytherin—she’s ambitious like Maia but has similar struggles: she wants to be recognized for her battle prowess, but people look down on her because she’s a girl. I love how similar she and Maia are and yet how different. She’s really fun to write, and I hope readers will love her prickliness. 

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

I was inspired by the fairytales my father used to tell me as a child. SPIN THE DAWN draws influence from three in particular: the Chinese legend, The Cowherd and the Weaver, the French fairytale, Donkeyskin, and the Norwegian story, East of the Sun. I decided to write about a tailor in particular because of my grandmother, who spent many years working as a seamstress when she first moved to the United States. 

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

Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys. 

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 pot of freshly brewed oolong tea sipped in a garden (the Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden and Staten Island’s Chinese Scholar’s Garden are two of my local faves). 

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish SPIN THE DAWN? 

Yes! I’d recommend The Reader by Traci Chee, Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan, Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer, and Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie Dao.

What’s next for you? 

I’m working on the sequel to Spin the Dawn!

Elizabeth Lim grew up on a hearty staple of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Her passion for storytelling began around age 10, when she started writing fanfics for Sailor Moon, Sweet Valley, and Star Wars, and posted them online to discover, "Wow, people actually read my stuff. And that's kinda cool!" But after one of her teachers told her she had "too much voice" in her essays, Elizabeth took a break from creative writing to focus on not flunking English. 

Over the years, Elizabeth became a film and video game composer, and even went so far as to get a doctorate in music composition. But she always missed writing, and turned to penning stories when she needed a breather from grad school. One day, she decided to write and finish a novel -- for kicks, at first, then things became serious -- and she hasn't looked back since. 

Elizabeth loves classic film scores, books with a good romance, food (she currently has a soft spot for arepas and Ethiopian food), the color turquoise, overcast skies, English muffins, cycling, and baking. She lives in New York City with her husband.

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