Hello Readers & Writers,
Today I’ll be featuring Joan He and her novel Descendant of the Crane releasing in April 2019 from Albert Whitman Company. I’ve had the pleasure of reading an ARC of this book and oh my goodness, the writing and world-building alone are enough to draw anyone in.
But since not everyone has read it, here’s a synopsis!
Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, dreaming of an unremarkable life. But when her beloved father is found dead, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of a surprisingly unstable kingdom. What’s more, Hesina believes that her father was murdered—and that the killer is someone close to her.
Hesina’s court is packed full of dissemblers and deceivers eager to use the king’s death for political gain, each as plausibly guilty as the next. Her advisers would like her to blame the neighboring kingdom of Kendi’a, whose ruler has been mustering for war. Determined to find her father’s actual killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by
death, since magic was outlawed centuries ago.
Using the information provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of Yan at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?
- I want to say thank you so much for joining me on the blog, Joan. I’m super excited for Descendant of the Crane! What’s going through your head now that it’s 2019 and your book will be out in April?
Joan: Thank you so much for having me Megan! I really can’t believe it’s already 2019. Funny thing is that even though DESCENDANT comes out this year, it already feels like a book of the past. So much time has passed between idea conception and sale, and per industry standards, 1-2 years have also passed from the sale to release. In this time I’ve written three other projects, sold another book, and am currently focused on the newest work in progress. Looping back around to DESCENDANT promo has required some mental gymnastics.
- What advice do you have for querying writers and writers on sub?
Joan: My previous answer probably gives it away, but seriously, write the next thing. Every book opens up new opportunities. Just because a something “fails” at a particular moment in time doesn’t mean it can’t come off the shelf eventually. Just look at Marie Lu’s KINGDOM OF BACK—it was her first book on submission to editors but not the first to sell. The success of LEGEND, which did go on to sell, opened that door back up for her and now KINGDOM is coming out in 2019.
- Do you remember a funny typo that you can share with us?
Joan: So there’s a murder investigation at the heart of my book, and as a result there are a lot of court and trial scenes. In fact the justice system used to contain three kinds of trials: Trial by Blood, Trial by Fate, and Trial by Wits. During a rewrite I condensed all of the trials into one, but missed Trial of Spit. Now you just get plain old “trail of spit.”
- Describe your book in three words.
Joan: Ruling really sucks.
- Which character of yours do you think you’d best get along with?
Joan: Literally anyone but Hesina. Having a Caiyan would be nice—someone to manage your life for you and make sure you get to everything on time.
- What character from any fictional universe would you like to spend the day with?
Joan: L from the anime Death Note.
- Talk about a major theme that you explore in your book.
Joan: On the surface, the book explores themes of justice, truth, and morality. But at its core, it explores the idea of familial love. Guardian figures obviously want to spare their loved ones all and any pain themselves have experienced. But everyone’s life is a journey of ups and downs, and sometimes giving your loved one the freedom to err and undergo hardship is the best thing that you can do for them…though some characters inDESCENDANT would beg to differ :’)
- Did you always want to write for teens?
Joan: Yes! I actually got into writing longer pieces of fiction by writing Spirited Away fanfiction. Movie-watchers will know that the main character, Chihiro, is middle-grade aged, but in my fanfic I automatically found myself aging her up to a teen. I was barely a teen myself at this point, but I was eager to get there! Then, once I got there…I suspect I never left. DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE was actually the last book I wrote while I was truly young-adult aged teen, and I tweet about how that shaped the development of the character arc here: https://twitter.com/joanhewrites/status/1106257066430218240
- Is there a fun fact you can share about Descendant of the Crane?
Joan: The body count was a lot higher in previous drafts 😀
About the Author
- I’m horrible at bios so let’s do a fact list instead:
- As a second-generation Chinese American, I was raised on a diet of Chinese cartoons and dramas. Journey to the West was basically my Sponge Bob.
- I’m a recent grad of the University of Pennsylvania, where I majored in Psychology and minored in East Asian Language and Cultures.
- Cats and wombats for life.
- The weirder the story, the better.
- I should really be sponsored by Starbucks.
- I am represented by John Cusick of Folio Lit.
Descendant of the Crane will wreck you emotionally, but leave you craving more. Preorder this amazing book and support Joan and her books to come.