Spotlight Mini-Series: Fonda Lee on the daily, part 1 (ft. ice cream flavors & lantern men)

So it turns out that for someone who has done plenty of transcribing interviews for her own research studies, I’m still embarrassingly slow at it. Which would explain the reason behind the incredible delay of the mini-series I promised a few days ago — a mini-series of interviews that I’ve decided to lovingly name FONDAily, which is short for Fonda Lee on the daily.

As part of the Jade War blog tour, I was given the amazing — actually, amazing can’t even sufficiently describe it — opportunity to have a Skype video call with THE Fonda Lee for an author interview. It was a book blogging dream that I never even knew that I had because I didn’t think things like that happened. But it did! And I cannot thank Nazia from Orbit Books enough times for setting up the interview and for making me the happiest little Southeast Asian girl in the world!

All my feels (and overjoyed tears) aside, the interview consisted of two parts — first, I had prepared a huge bowl of questions from the Jade War blog tour hosts (which were so incredibly fun to answer that Fonda and I ended up emptying the whole bowl, instead of picking out 7 to 8 questions); and second, I had prepared my own set of questions for Fonda. The video interview exceeded a whole hour, which resulted in a raw 21-page transcript. As I was transcribing the video, I realized that it could actually be broken down into smaller interview posts — and ta da, this mini-series was born!

I can honestly say that Fonda is such a delightful person (especially because she took my shy potato awkwardness in stride!), and this was the most fun interview I’ve ever had. Which is why I am very, very excited to share our conversation with all of you!

Before we proceed, I feel compelled to make a couple of disclaimers: (1) although I have a word-for-word transcript of our video conversation, these interview posts are partially simplified, edited, and revised to make them easier to digest; (2) this mini-series consists of five parts, and these parts are not chronological, but are instead composed of a mix of interview questions (except for the last part, which solely consists of my questions); and (3) there is an extremely tiny, albeit unlikely, probability for human error since this is all transcribed from video.

Other installments of this mini-series: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

OF ALL THE ELEMENTS IN THE WORLD, WHY DID YOU CHOOSE JADE AS THE SOURCE OF SPECIAL ABILITIES? WAS THERE A REASON YOU WERE FASCINATED WITH JADE? (Isabelle @ BookwyrmBites)

FONDA: When it comes to fantasy, the idea of magic items or magic stones is really common. There [are] oftentimes magic crystals or magic swords. I knew I wanted this to be an Asian-inspired world, and in Asian culture, jade is already so significant [and] it’s valued more than gold, more than any of the other gems. I figured it was already figuratively magic in our world, so I just made it literally magic in my fantasy world.

And it’s just, I love the idea of some substance that would be the source of this magic, and that would feel really real because it was already connected to our own world, and it would be a stand-in for all these things I could explore. I wanted it to be a scarce resource so I could really explore how it would affect this country, how it would affect the characters, and of course, it had to come at some sort of cost. So even though it’s magic, it’s also dangerous. I loved the idea of taking something that was already so significant in Asian culture and then giving it even more significance in this magic world.

WHICH POSITION IN THE CLAN WOULD YOU BE IN? (Michelle @ Magical Reads)

FONDA: Ooh, that’s tough.

SHEALEA: Oh, has this been asked to you or, like, never?

FONDA: Nope.

SHEALEA: I feel like this should be one of those things that they [other interviewers] should ask you.

FONDA: Yeah. Yeah, which position in the clan would I have? Huh. I mean, I would like to think I’d be the Horn, but I know I wouldn’t so, um, and I’d like to be the Weather Man but I feel like that’d just — that’d also be a really hard position. I feel like I have to be smarter than I am to be Weather Man.

Hmm. Um. Yeah, I’d probably be in the Weather Man’s office but, like, maybe not the Weather Man per se. I’d be the Weather Man’s Shadow or Master Luckbringer.

SHEALEA: *nods* Okay, okay. I can buy that.

FONDA: [I’d be] supporting the Weather Man. Yeah, I can see that. Or I could be a Lantern Man. Like a high-ranking Lantern Man. *pauses* But I want to wear jade.

IF YOUR CHARACTERS WERE TO BE TRANSPORTED TO THE REAL WORLD, WHAT KIND OF MUSIC WOULD THEY LISTEN TO? (Rain @ bookdragonism)

SHEALEA: Genre, I guess.

FONDA: I feel like Lan would probably like classical, and Hilo would be into hip-hop or rap or something like that. What would Shae listen to? What do you think? I think Shae would maybe be, um, hmm…

SHEALEA: I can… this is hard.

FONDA: Yeah.

SHEALEA: I think she can sort of explore indie. Like the lesser known stuff. I feel like she’s not confined to one genre.

FONDA: *nods* She’d explore different genres, and yeah, she would probably seek out more indie artists and stuff. Yeah, I think I can see her being into indie rock or something like that.

SHEALEA: Yeah, exactly.

FONDA: That’s going to be my answer for her. And Anden — well, he’s pretty young so he’s probably into like… what would he be into?

SHEALEA: I’m trying to think. Hold on. Do you think he’d be into the “old” pop/rock stuff or like The Beatles?

FONDA: Yeah, I think he’d probably be into pop of some sort.

SHEALEA: Older pop?

FONDA: Yeah, maybe like older pop. I can see that.

SHEALEA: I like that we’re collaborating here. Like, β€œThis is it. This is canon now.”

FONDA: Good group answer. *laughs*

WHAT FLAVOR OF ICE CREAM BEST REPRESENTS EACH OF THE KAULS – OR AT LEAST THE SIBLINGS AND ANDEN? (Isabelle @ BookwyrmBites)

FONDA: I know what my favorite ice cream is. But each of the Kaul siblings’ ice cream? Okay, this is going to be another collaborative one.

SHEALEA: *laughs*

FONDA: I think Lan has a really, like, solid reliable ice cream flavor. Like chocolate fudge.

SHEALEA: I was thinking of, like, dark chocolate.

FONDA: *nods* Yeah. Like dark chocolate fudge.

SHEALEA: *laughs* Okay.

FONDA: Okay. Hilo’s gonna be, um… hmm…

SHEALEA: I feel like his would be like one of those… “it doesn’t appeal to everyone” kind of flavor. Um, like, mint chocolate or something.

FONDA: *nods* Funny. I was actually thinking [of] mint, too. Like mint chocolate chip.

SHEALEA: Yeah, yeah. Something that’d make people go like, “Really? That’s it?” [because] it doesn’t really appeal to everyone.

FONDA: Right. I think Hilo would probably like, you know, one of those flavors that’s like got some interest to it. But, like, isn’t too wild. Yeah, maybe like mint chocolate or salted caramel.

SHEALEA: Yeah, yeah. Either one.

FONDA: Okay. Shae’s gonna be… um… I think she’d like sorbet. And Anden is… what does Anden like? Some sort of unique flavor.

SHEALEA: I don’t know why, but I thought of wasabi ice cream. That’s a thing, apparently. I have never tried it.

FONDA: Right. Or like green tea or something.

SHEALEA: Ah, yeah, like matcha. *laughs* He’s one of those people.

FONDA: Yeah, Anden likes matcha. *laughs*

SHEALEA: That sounds like Anden.

WHAT SHOULD READERS HAVE WITH THEM AT ALL TIMES WHILE READING JADE WAR? (Bianca @ The Ultimate Fangirl)

FONDA: Ooh, what should they have with them at all times? Probably some tea. Well, I’d say some space. To walk around. Because I heard from some other advanced readers that they would need to get up and pace during the book. So I would say: have some space to walk around and work off energy, and stay hydrated. *laughs*

SHEALEA: Honestly, I was thinking: have comfort food.

FONDA: Comfort food is good, yeah. Some snacks. Whatever you need, like a stress ball, maybe? *laughs* One of those stress balls — that would be good, too.

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I’d love to hear from you!

🌻 What do you think of this interview? What are you hoping Fonda answers in the next installment of this mini-series?

🌻 Do you agree with our picks regarding the Kauls’ preferred music genres and favorite ice cream flavors?

🌻 Have you picked up Jade City? Are you excited for Jade War?


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