Let’s end the day right with another session of Fonda Lee on the daily! As part of the Jade War blog tour, I interviewed Fonda Lee, the award-winning author of Jade City and the more recently released Jade War, through a Skype video call. Since our conversation lasted for an hour or so (which resulted in a 21-page transcript), I’ve decided to create a mini-series of author interviews!
This is the second to the last part of the interview, and honestly, I’m a little bit sad about the idea of this mini-series reaching its end. Fonda is such a huge inspiration to me, and she’s just a really enchanting and delightful person overall.
Before we proceed, here are 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.
WHAT WOULD BE A BEHIND-THE-SCENE TIDBIT THAT WOULD PROBABLY SURPRISE YOUR READERS? (Krisha @ Bookathon)
FONDA: Oh, that’s a good question. A behind-the-scenes tidbit. So, let’s see. Here’s a little behind-the-scenes tidbit. If you look at the map of Janloon, the subway system for Janloon is the same as the subway system for the city of Toronto in Canada, which is where I lived and rode the subway for many years. […] So those who look at the subway system of Janloon and have lived in Toronto will recognize it.
There is a little footnote at the bottom of the map that is an homage to some of my favorite film directors — so if people take a moment to look at the map, they’ll notice that. And then the [map’s] shape of the island of Kekon, I’ve had people say that it looks like a dragon’s fetus.
SHEALEA: What? *laughs*
FONDA: *laughs* The shape of the island of Kekon is actually a talon knife.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE ADULT FANTASY BOOKS? (Rain @ bookdragonism)
SHEALEA: I guess Rain is looking for recommendations.
FONDA: Oh, gosh. There’s a lot of good ones out these days. My favorite adult fantasy books. Every time I’m asked this, I’m like, “What have I read lately?” There’s just a lot of good ones.
I really enjoy City of Brass. That was one of my recent favorite reads by S.A. Chakraborty. […] I read a novel called Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory, which I really enjoyed because it’s also a family saga, and it has great sibling dynamics, which I’m partial to.
I do a lot of audiobooks because sometimes I’m so busy writing and my brain is too filled with words that it’s actually easier for me to listen to audiobooks because it turns off the writer side of my brain. Oh! Naomi Novik. I really enjoyed Uprooted and Spinning Silver and her Temeraire series. I really enjoy the fantasy that she writes.
Let’s see. What else have I read recently? Oh, um, Scott Lynch’s Lies of Locke Lamora is one of my favorite fantasy novels, and it’s got that crime element to it, too. And the characters are so great! I really enjoy Frances Hardinge’s books. I think she’s pretty well-known in the UK, but I’m not sure if she’s known as well elsewhere in the world. Face Like Glass, The Lie Tree — she writes some great fantasy, although I think she does mostly YA.
I have science fiction ones as well, but those are probably like some of my recent favorite fantasy.
SHEALEA: Yeah, I haven’t read any of them, although I do have a copy of City of Brass, sitting somewhere at home. I’ll get to it then, now that you’ve recommended it.
IF YOU HAD TO ASSIGN A SONG (OR SONGS) TO THE BOOK, WHICH WOULD THEY BE? (Krisha @ Bookathon)
SHEALEA: It’s more songs questions. Are you up for songs questions?
FONDA: Are they hard?
SHEALEA: It says: If you had to assign a song or songs to the book, which would they be?
FONDA: Oh gosh, that is hard. I admit I don’t know a lot of songs, but if anyone has suggestions for a playlist…
Sometimes I see authors make playlists for their books, and I’m always so [left out] because I don’t feel like I have one. I don’t think I have a song.
SHEALEA: Do you listen to music while you’re writing?
FONDA: I don’t, actually. I’m one of those writers who just [write] in silence. I put on the noise-canceling headphones and I’m just like writing in silence. Sometimes I want ambient noise, but I don’t actually listen to music while I’m writing.
I really like melodic rock. Or indie rock. So it’d probably be something there, but I don’t really know like what song I’d assign.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE SOCIAL MEDIA AND WRITING, YOUR PERSONAL LIFE, AND FREE TIME? (Lili @ Utopia State of Mind)
FONDA: I wish I had the answer to that. The answer is: it’s hard. It’s really hard to balance all those things, and the writing always comes first. But there [are] always these distractions going on. And at any given time, there’s something I have to do; I’m traveling to speak at an event, or I’m doing some sort of promotion, or I have to drive my kids somewhere, so there’s always stuff going on.
I try to balance it by just setting myself writing goals, and I don’t stick to a daily word writing goal. I don’t have a specific word count that I hit every day because sometimes my days will have to be flexible. So I’ll say, “This week I want to get these two chapters done” so that’s my goal for the week and I’ll try to make sure that I’m doing enough each day that I will hit that goal. And I’ll have longer-term goals like “I know I need a first draft done by, you know, the end of this month.” or “I know I need to get it out to some of my early readers by this time” and I’ll give myself this much time to do revisions. I’ll try to lay it out so that I have long-term and then medium-term and then short-term goals, and then I’ll work everything else around that.
But it can be hard. And I’m — I have time when I’m more productive or less productive. I’m not a very good morning person. In the morning, I’m a zombie so I’ll try to do easier things in the morning and then save the heavy writing for the afternoon, where I got a little bit more energy.
But it is hard, especially because you know readers are waiting for your next book, and then you also have all these other obligations. And social media can really suck away your time, so I try to limit myself and I’ll use like apps to shut myself out after a little while.
FAVORITE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR INSPIRATIONAL MUSIC OR WRITING PLAYLISTS? (Lili @ Utopia State of Mind)
SHEALEA: This one’s about writing playlists, but you don’t have one so I don’t think you can answer it.
FONDA: Yeah, I don’t have a writing playlist. Nope. I do use ambient noise. Sometimes I’ll set an ambient noise for like Gryffindor common room library, and I’d have, like, just flames and rustling pages. Or I’ll have rain.
DO YOU HAVE A CERTAIN MUSIC PREFERENCE FOR INSPIRATION? (Divine @ R E A D I V I N E)
SHEALEA: And then for the last question, we have… oh. Oh my god, no. It’s also about music and listening to it. So let’s… not.
FONDA: I feel ill-equipped to deal with all these music questions. Someone – okay — someone on this blog tour should come up with a playlist. I think there [are] definitely people on this blog tour who would come up with a good playlist. And then I could use it! And it would be great! […] Yes, you should send that out as a challenge to the bloggers who are participating.
Related: Jade War Blog Tour | In Which I Compile A Playlist & Fail to Express My Undying Love for this Series (from Divine @ R E A D I V I N E)
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I’d love to hear from you!
🌻 Have you seen the map of the island of Kekon? Do you think the island is shaped like a dragon fetus or a talon knife?
🌻 If you were to build a playlist for this series, which songs would you include?
🌻 Have you picked up Jade City? Are you excited for Jade War?