Interview with Resa Nelson, Author of The Yellow Dragon
23 Sep 2019
What can you tell us about your new release, The Yellow Dragon?
The Yellow Dragon is the first book in my new Demon Queller series. Every book in the series will be a standalone, so the books won’t have to be read in any specific order. The Yellow Dragon is YA in the sense that it’s appropriate for teens to read. At the same time, the heart of the book is about the idea that no one has the right to make decisions for others, even when those decisions are difficult and complex. The Yellow Dragon takes place in my fantasy version of medieval China, and history inspires that fantasy nation. I always do research, and part of my research included reading Chinese fairy tales, which I find terrifying. These fairy tales have a strong influence on the fantasy world I’ve created. The Yellow Dragon is also a cozy mystery. The main character is Pingzi Po, a little girl who is a demon queller. Because she’s the only demon queller in the nation (and, really, in the entire world), part of what this series explores is what demons are and what demon quellers do. This novel is about how she stumbles upon a mystery that endangers an emperor and how she must figure out not only what the threat is but how to stop — or quell — that threat.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
I knew I wanted to be an author by the time I was in second grade. Growing up, I was interested in being an author, a dancer, or a pianist. Writing won.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
In no particular order: The Wasp Factory, The Handmaid’s Tale, Fahrenheit 451, Bang the Drum Slowly, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
If I could go back in time, I’d want my first guest to be Jane Austin. I’d ask her to talk about the humanity of her characters, because her heroic characters are some of the most ethical and moral characters I’ve ever encountered.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
My favorite thing is the actual act of writing. I especially like the beginning phase of developing a book I’m going to write, because anything is possible.
What is a typical day like for you?
I begin my day with yoga, I walk to a local pool, and then I swim for an hour. While I swim, I think about what I’m going to write that day. When I get home, I have breakfast and spend the rest of the morning writing. In the afternoon, I turn to the business side of writing.
What scene in The Yellow Dragon was your favorite to write?
Before writing any novel, I outline it. I compare it to framing a house, because the outline is basic. My favorite scene in The Yellow Dragon was in an early chapter where an unexpected character showed up out of the blue. That character, although a minor one, plays a critical role in the novel and ties a lot of things together. The framework was there to allow it to happen, but I never saw it coming. For me, that’s one of the most fun and exciting things about writing: when a character announces his or her presence and insists on being part of the story.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
I believe in writing what I love. If there’s no passion behind my work, I doubt that anyone would enjoy reading it — including me!
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