Ellen Oh, better known to her blueboarder and blogging buddies as ELLO is the author of the newly acquired and, what I am sure will be, the wildly successful Dragon King Chronicles, which will be Books for Young and “more mature” Adults.
The only disappointing news I have to share is that this novel isn’t scheduled to come out until the Summer of 2012 and then only the first of three of her books will be available: The Prophecy. And if you’re looking for strong female role models or characters you should be waiting with bated breath for this book.
“PROPHECY is about Kira Kang, the only female warrior of the Saulabi Army and a bona fide demon slayer”
Tell me that doesn’t whet your whistle for more—I’m only surprised it took so long to get published. And, I’m hoping Ellen will tell us all about her writing journey and how she felt when she knew she’d finally made it.
But first, a little bit about my blogging buddy:
Ello, as I’ve come to know her, grew up in NYC and moved down to the Washington, DC area to attend law school at Georgetown University. There she met her future husband who convinced her to stay and now she has 3 smart, funny, beautiful girls who keep her on her toes. They, along with her parents and her sister, are the nucleus of the awesome support she needed to become a writer.
But, I have a few questions I want to ask, so sit back, grab a cup of coffee and listen or “read all about it”.
What inspired you to create such a strong female character in The Prophecy:
Growing up my Dad always told me that I should never let anyone put me down or tell me I couldn't do something just because I was a girl. He said being strong isn't just about physical strength, it was about being strong mentally, spiritually, and being smart. He taught me to be tough, maybe a little too tough. I was always fighting, always in trouble. My parents used to joke and call me Xena, Warrior Princess. Of course it didn't help that I had nearly the same hairdo at the time. So it wouldn't be a surprise that I would write a strong female character. How could I not?
Where any of her characteristics derived from your own strong will to overcome obstacles (of course I’m sure you’re not fighting demons—maybe just slow tourists when they come to your town)?
Absolutely. Kira is reviled in Prophecy for being different. She looks different and she has a very unique talent. She can smell demons. Being perceived as different is clearly something I can relate to. I grew up dealing with a lot of racism. It's funny because I grew up in NYC where there are a lot of different minorities and cultures. You would think it would be more tolerant but instead the racism was in your face. Very different from where I live now, where I find that racism to be more covert and subtle. Racism can insidiously strip away a person's self worth. I had to fight that all my life and learn to appreciate and respect who I was despite the racial slurs and terrible acts of prejudice.
How did you ever come up with such a setting for your story?
I studied a lot about ancient Korea and found it fascinating so I knew that I wanted it to be the backdrop of my book. And also to weave in Korean myths and legends.
Can you tell us anything about the next two books?
It's a surprise!
Do you hope teenage girls will be inspired to become stronger (again not fighting demons) because of your book and more willing to face challenges in life?
I know that part of why I wrote this book was because I have 3 girls myself and I want them to know that girls can do anything that boys can do, and do it better. An important theme of my book is the idea that nothing is impossible. There are always naysayers in life, but we can't let them put us down. Don't believe the words of other people, only believe in yourself and what you can achieve if you set your mind to it.
Can you tell us about your writing journey?
It was long and boring and at times very treacherous. But I made it!
Were there any challenges you faced in the publishing arena?
I talked about this in my LIfe is Good post. How I had so many people tell me that no one would be interested in a book about ancient Korea. In fact, I remember being in a writing class and this one male writer began to harangue me about how no one would ever publish my book because it was too oriental for western sensibilities. Bad enough he used the term "oriental" which I dislike, but he publicly mocked me for wasting my time and not understanding the American marketplace. I wish I still knew him only so I could rub this in his face. Yeah, I don't turn the other cheek very well... I admit to wanting to go up to him and say "How do you like me now?"
What advice would you want to give to budding writers?
If you truly believe in your story, then don't give up. But make sure you truly believe in it. Prophecy was my third book. My other 2 books may never see the light of day for good reason. I knew I had to put them away. It would have been a waste of my time to keep working on them. That recognition of when to put something away and when to continue to fight for it, is important as a writer. When I wrote Prophecy, I knew it was different. Here was something I really believed in. That I was willing to fight for. I never gave up on it because I knew it had great potential. I'm really blessed to have found both an agent and an editor who saw that same potential and loved my book as much as I did.