Have you ever let rejection prevent you from pursuing your passion? How do you find the courage to let go of fear to pursue your dreams? We talk about overcoming rejection and so much more with Julie Dao!
Julie Dao is a Vietnamese-American fantasy author who is best known for her Rise of the Empress series, an Asian retelling of the fairy tale Snow White. In her series is Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and her newly released sequel, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix.
In our conversation, Julie gives us an inside peek into the world of her Rise of the Empress duology. She walks us through the ups and downs of her querying and publishing journey all while sharing invaluable advice on picking yourself back up after facing rejection. She also talks about the importance of bringing forth Asian-American representation in her stories, shares her writing process, and gives great tips for writers on reaching their writings goals.
Books and resources:
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
Writing and blogging site LiveJournal
Tamar Rydzinski – Julie’s Literary Agent
Young Adult Fiction Author, Stacy Lee
The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen
The Girl King by Mimi Yu
Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
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Check out these highlights:
- We learn about Julie’s background and hear the story of how she became addicted to storytelling (3:30)
- The importance of never turning your back on what you are passionate about (5:35)
- How writing Harry Potter Fan Fiction sparked the courage for Julie to pursue her writing career (8:30)
- Why joining a writing community is a great place to start learning about the publishing world (11:00)
- Julie shares the ups and downs of her querying and publishing journey (18:30)
- She unpacks the importance of crafting Asian-American heroines in the forefront of her novels (22:45)
- How separating being a writer and being an author is the key to pushing past rejection (25:50)
- How allowing yourself to melt into your writing is a great therapeutic practice (29:40)
- Julie shares a moment where she felt the most rejected in her publishing process that will inspire you to never give up (41:45)
- She gives a snapshot of her two books Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix (50:50)
- She also answers a few of our listener’s questions:
- “What advice do you have for someone who is getting ready to query an own-voices novel?” (47:00)
- “I would love to know how necessary she feels planning ahead is when writing a series? For example, if she already had the ideas and outlines for both books when she went on submissions for the one, or if she did the ideas for book two after, or a mix of both?” (48:34)
- “What other fairy tales or princess stories would Julie love to be retold through a nonwestern cultural lens like she did with the Snow White tale?” (52:10)
- “Julie mentioned that she did a lot of research when writing her books. Was it partly because she felt the pressure of being authentic to Asian history or culture? Did you feel the need to get it right and hold yourself accountable to a certain standard of authenticity?” (54:10)
“Books felt like doors to me that I can open and just walk right into.”
“Once I learned that being told ‘no’ is a natural and a normal thing, I felt like it was easier to keep pushing on.”
“You can be the best writer ever, you could write the greatest story, and still be told no over, and over, and over. So you have to separate that being a writer and being an author is not always about talent – it’s about perseverance, it’s about wanting something more than anything you’ve ever wanted before and letting that desire to overcome help you push past all of the rejections.”
“Writing has always been such an outlet for me to release all of my feelings and all of my tensions. And all of the times when I tell myself that I’m not worth it when I write I feel like all of that melts away.”
– Julie Dao
“I try never to regret any choices that I’ve made because I feel like every choice we’ve made in our lives has a purpose.”
“The day you give up could be the day before your dreams come true.”
Say “Hi” to Julie
Learn more about “Kingdom of The Blazing Pheonix“
Princess Jade has grown up in exile, hidden away in a monastery while her stepmother, the ruthless Xifeng, rules as Empress of Feng Lu. But the empire is in distress and its people are sinking into poverty and despair. Even though Jade doesn’t want the crown, she knows she is the only one who can dethrone the Empress and set the world right.
Ready to reclaim her place as rightful heir, Jade embarks on a quest to raise the Dragon Lords and defeat Xifeng and the Serpent God once and for all. But will the same darkness that took Xifeng take Jade, too? Or will she find the strength within to save herself, her friends, and her empire?
Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with breathtaking pain and beauty, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is filled with dazzling magic, powerful prose, and characters readers won’t soon forget.
Learn more about Julie Dao:
Julie is a proud Vietnamese American who was born in upstate New York. She studied medicine in college, but came to realize blood and needles were her Kryptonite. By day, she worked in science news and research; by night, she wrote books about heroines unafraid to fight for their dreams, which inspired her to follow her passion of becoming a published author. Her debut book was Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. Julie lives in New England.