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Ash Discussions > Q&A with Malinda Lo

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message 1: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (last edited Nov 08, 2011 09:48AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
Malinda Lo the author of Ash and Huntress has agreed to stop by the group and answer our questions!!! She is going to stop by at the end of the month, November 28th, after everyone has had a chance to read the book! Post your questions and comments in this thread!


message 2: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (last edited Nov 08, 2011 09:49AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
Welcome and thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to stop by our YA book club!

Question (spoilers for those who have not read the book):I saw on your blog that the first version of the book Ash, that she fell for the prince. WOW! What a difference! Was Sidhean in that version? What made you change your mind and have the story go in a different direction?


message 3: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (last edited Nov 08, 2011 09:42AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
Q. Do you have any upcoming book tours/signings in 2012?


Eleanora (irishgirl1000) | 2 comments Q: What inspired you to take a shot at Cinderella, one of the most well-known fairy tales? And you did it quite well by the way!


Kassidy First, I'd like to say I greatly appreciate your large contributions to the LGBT community, especially for LGBT youth. It's really wonderful to have these retold spins on fairy tales, especially when the genre was initially so limited to hetero-normative stories.

Q: Do you have plans to do more fairy tale novels? Are there any fairy tales you would particularly want to focus on?


message 6: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (last edited Nov 08, 2011 09:47AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
I agree, your contributions to the LGBT community is GREAT! This is the first time this group has read a LGBT youth book and I love that the readers are getting a chance to explore new type of literature.

I love the new look of your website: http://www.malindalo.com/

Did you have a hand in designing this? Also, we have a ton of book bloggers in this group and your blog is great so I thought maybe you have some blogging advice?


Martha Tovar (marty_org) | 17 comments Q. Throughout the story there are a lot of fairy tales mentioned. Are these stories ones you heard of, came across or are they some that you created?


Theo | 116 comments Q: So much of LGBTQ YA lit focuses on coming out or the struggles teens face with bullying and equal rights issues. While I think creating realistic novels about what teens face is important, I think it's also important to show LGBTQ relationships as romantic and "normal" (for lack of a better word), like the relationship between Ash and Kaisa. What led you to create this world of gender and sexual equality?


Tatiana (tatiana_g) Q: By now, you have probably come across a ton of different interpretations of your debut novel. As a writer, what would you like readers to take away after reading this book? What were the intentions and inspirations behind Ash?


message 10: by Tatiana (last edited Nov 13, 2011 06:17PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Tatiana (tatiana_g) Q: Many YA authors lament the lack of YA novels featuring gay characters. Do you agree with this?

Was your road to publishing thorny? And, from your experience, has it become easier for the writers of LGBT YA lit to get their novels published since your first book came out?


Tatiana (tatiana_g) Q: You are currently working on a 2-book sci-fi series. Are you planning to eventually revisit the world of Ash and Huntress?


message 12: by Oscar (last edited Nov 16, 2011 12:32AM) (new) - added it

Oscar | 51 comments Q: Do you find the YA label helpful or difficult when it comes to writing about controversial issues such LGBT related themes? And how would you as a writer of LGBT literature handle such themes different while writing towards young adults than writing for an adult audience?


Grace (gdaminato) | 520 comments Q: There were several threads in the book that didn't seem to go anywhere - Ash's mother's clothes packed into a trunk; her father's trunks in the cellar room; her father's account books in the cupboard with her mother's herbal; the letter from the King and the lawyer purportedly reporting on Ash's father's insolvency giving Isobel a reason to turn Ash into an indentured servant.

I wondered if she would find something in those trunks and books that would prove that Isobel was lying and had actually stolen her father's fortune. Perhaps, there might even be proof that Isobel poisoned him.

Had your mind ever wandered along these paths when you were writing the book. It's almost as if the threads were introduced as contingencies - in case those story ideas could be developed further without creating a huge brick of a book.


message 14: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (last edited Nov 16, 2011 04:02PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
A question the group has been asking is what exactly is the history of a huntress? Did they really exist for kings or is that something you invented? I love the idea of a huntress by the way!


message 15: by Veronica (new)

Veronica | 3 comments Hey Malinda Lo, welcome!


Chantaal I don't have any questions that others haven't already asked, but I just wanted to stop by and say hello, Malinda. I also want to thank your for your contributions to LGBT literature!


Tatiana (tatiana_g) Q: Many of us have been intrigued by the night Ash spent with Sidhean. Could you give us an idea of what went on there and of the length of her stay in the fairy realm?


message 18: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 2 stars

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
Feel free Malinda to go ahead and start answering! I got your email!


message 19: by Malinda (new)

Malinda Lo (malindalo) | 15 comments Angie wrote: "Q. Do you have any upcoming book tours/signings in 2012?"

All my events are listed on my website at www.malindalo.com/events

I'm still scheduling events for 2012, but for now I can tell you that I'll be a guest of honor at the Sirens Conference in Portland in October. It's a great conference for anyone who's interested in women in fantasy, and they always have a lot of YA programs. Anyone can come and anyone can be part of the programming! Go to http://www.sirensconference.org/ for more info!


message 20: by Malinda (new)

Malinda Lo (malindalo) | 15 comments Eleanora wrote: "Q: What inspired you to take a shot at Cinderella, one of the most well-known fairy tales? And you did it quite well by the way!"

Thanks, Eleanora! Cinderella was always my favorite fairy tale from when I was a kid, so when I decided to retell a fairy tale, I picked my favorite. :)


message 21: by Malinda (new)

Malinda Lo (malindalo) | 15 comments Kassidy wrote: "First, I'd like to say I greatly appreciate your large contributions to the LGBT community, especially for LGBT youth. ... Q: Do you have plans to do more fairy tale novels? Are there any fairy tales you would particularly want to focus on?"

Thanks so much, Kassidy! I really appreciate that. I do have another fairy tale retelling that I want to write, but I'm superstitious and don't talk about things I haven't written yet. :) I can tell you that it's an adult story (not YA), so that'll be different for me!


message 22: by Malinda (new)

Malinda Lo (malindalo) | 15 comments Angie wrote: "Question (spoilers for those who have not read the book):I saw on your blog that the first version of the book Ash, that she fell for the prince. WOW! What a difference! Was Sidhean in that version? What made you change your mind and have the story go in a different direction? "

Yes, Sidhean was in that version, and so was Kaisa. All the characters were there from the beginning! I gave that draft to a friend of mine to read and she told me that she didn't see much chemistry between the prince and Ash, but she thought Ash really liked another character -- a woman. I was really surprised when my friend told me this, but after I went back and reread the draft, I could see that she was right. However, I was very nervous to write a lesbian Cinderella; I thought it wouldn't sell. So at first I tried to make the prince more charming, but I could never get Ash to be interested in him. Ultimately, it was the character of Ash herself who convinced me to go in a different direction, because it was so clear what (and who) she wanted.


message 23: by Malinda (new)

Malinda Lo (malindalo) | 15 comments Angie wrote: "I love the new look of your website: http://www.malindalo.com/

Did you have a hand in designing this? Also, we have a ton of book bloggers in this group and your blog is great so I thought maybe you have some blogging advice? "


I'm glad you like the new site, Angie! I hired Motel Projects to design it, and they deserve all the credit for the great look. I told them what I wanted, but they had to translate that into graphic design, and I think they did a wonderful job.

Re: blogging, after doing this for several years I've basically learned that I shouldn't be too hard on myself -- I mean, nobody pays me to blog so I should really only blog when I want to! :) I used to try to schedule posts in advance and plan out everything, but that got too stressful. Now I note down blog topics when I come up with them, and I write them when I feel like it. I do try to blog regularly, but I let "regular" be whatever it is.


message 24: by Malinda (new)

Malinda Lo (malindalo) | 15 comments Martha wrote: "Q. Throughout the story there are a lot of fairy tales mentioned. Are these stories ones you heard of, came across or are they some that you created?"

Some of them are based on fairy folklore that I read while doing research. Others I made up entirely! The tale that Kaisa tells Ash when she comes over to her house for the first time was one I invented, but the story of Kathleen is based on folklore.


message 25: by Malinda (new)

Malinda Lo (malindalo) | 15 comments Theo wrote: "Q: So much of LGBTQ YA lit focuses on coming out or the struggles teens face with bullying and equal rights issues. While I think creating realistic novels about what teens face is important, I think it's also important to show LGBTQ relationships as romantic and "normal" (for lack of a better word), like the relationship between Ash and Kaisa. What led you to create this world of gender and sexual equality? "

I think I wanted to read a book in which two girls could fall in love, and not only was their romance normal, it was envied by others. So I wrote the book I wanted to read!


message 26: by Malinda (new)

Malinda Lo (malindalo) | 15 comments Tatiana wrote: "Q: By now, you have probably come across a ton of different interpretations of your debut novel. As a writer, what would you like readers to take away after reading this book? What were the intentions and inspirations behind Ash?"

Honestly, I just want readers to enjoy the reading experience. I think that my intentions behind writing ASH are much more relevant to me than to others; for example, writing ASH was about achieving my dream of becoming a writer. But that doesn't really impact how a reader reads the book.

Ultimately, I just hope that the story can connect with the reader.


message 27: by Malinda (new)

Malinda Lo (malindalo) | 15 comments Tatiana wrote: "Q: Many YA authors lament the lack of YA novels featuring gay characters. Do you agree with this?"

Yeah, I definitely wish there were more YA novels about gay main characters!

"Was your road to publishing thorny? And, from your experience, has it become easier for the writers of LGBT YA lit to get their novels published since your first book came out? "

I actually blogged about this a while ago here: http://www.malindalo.com/2011/04/how-...

I don't know if it's easier now to publish an LGBT YA novel. I hope so! But I haven't seen a vast influx of LGBT YA novels, so I don't know.


message 28: by Malinda (new)

Malinda Lo (malindalo) | 15 comments Tatiana wrote: "Q: You are currently working on a 2-book sci-fi series. Are you planning to eventually revisit the world of Ash and Huntress?"

I don't have any plans to do that right now, but never say never. :)


message 29: by Malinda (new)

Malinda Lo (malindalo) | 15 comments Oscar wrote: "Q: Do you find the YA label helpful or difficult when it comes to writing about controversial issues such LGBT related themes? And how would you as a writer of LGBT literature handle such themes different while writing towards young adults than writing for an adult audience? "

For me the YA label has been great because that's where my books fit into the market, regardless of the LGBT content. I think that in some parts of the country, LGBT characters/story lines will make a YA book less attractive to libraries and schools. But that's homophobia and I don't spend much time getting upset about that. It is what it is.

There definitely are differences between writing YA and adult. For one thing, you can't write about adults having adult problems in YA, and I'm sure that if I write an adult novel, that will be the main difference -- the characters.


message 30: by Malinda (new)

Malinda Lo (malindalo) | 15 comments Grace wrote: "Q: There were several threads in the book that didn't seem to go anywhere .... Had your mind ever wandered along these paths when you were writing the book. It's almost as if the threads were introduced as contingencies - in case those story ideas could be developed further without creating a huge brick of a book. "

Ha! I think that what you think of as extraneous threads, I thought of as world-building. :) That's one thing that is very limiting about YA fantasy: YA readers tend to dislike a lot of world-building, whereas adult fantasy readers want a LOT of world-building. So for me, the challenge was balancing my need to create a completely formed world without losing the YA reader. I think that if you removed those details, Ash's world would be a lot shallower. They weren't really meant to "go anywhere," I guess, so much as set the scene, and to show that a greater world exists.

Regarding Lady Isobel and her bankruptcy ... I think that what I put into the book has done its job perfectly in that it raised those questions in your mind. :)


message 31: by Malinda (new)

Malinda Lo (malindalo) | 15 comments Angie wrote: "A question the group has been asking is what exactly is the history of a huntress? Did they really exist for kings or is that something you invented? I love the idea of a huntress by the way!"

Thank you! And what a great question! :) I happen to have answered it very thoroughly ... in my novel HUNTRESS! That is really about the origin of the huntresses, since it's about the very first one. If you're really intrigued by these ladies, you might want to check out HUNTRESS.


message 32: by Malinda (new)

Malinda Lo (malindalo) | 15 comments Tatiana wrote: "Q: Many of us have been intrigued by the night Ash spent with Sidhean. Could you give us an idea of what went on there and of the length of her stay in the fairy realm?"

:) I get this question a lot. This is what I will say: Ash enjoys her time there, and even she doesn't know exactly how long it was. You can interpret that however you want!


message 33: by Malinda (new)

Malinda Lo (malindalo) | 15 comments OK all, I think I'm done for today! I'll check back tomorrow to see if you guys have any follow-up questions, but I just wanted to say thank you for inviting me to chat with your book group, and thank you for reading ASH! If you're interested in reading HUNTRESS, which is sort of a prequel, I'm currently giving away a bunch of signed copies at my website. The deadline to enter the giveaway is Dec. 1 which is coming up pretty soon. You can enter here: http://www.malindalo.com/2011/11/welc...

Thanks again!


message 34: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 2 stars

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
Thank you so much Ms. Lo for stopping by our group!! We really appreciate it and I think it makes reading a book much more enjoyable when you can chat with the author!!!


Chantaal Thank you for stopping by and answering our questions! I'll definitely be picking up HUNTRESS as soon as I can, I loved that bit of world building in ASH and want to learn more. :)


Tatiana (tatiana_g) Thank you so much for spending time with us, Malinda.


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