Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Blog Tour: The Ghost Bride Interview with the Author and GIVEAWAY!

THE GHOST BRIDE’s Book of the Week, a Carnegie Medal nominee, and Goodreads 2013 Best Fantasy finalist. THE GHOST BRIDE is a historical fantasy.

“One evening, my father asked me if I would like to become a ghost bride…”

Li Lan, a young Chinese woman, lives in 1890s colonial Malaya with her quietly ruined father, who returns one evening with a proposition — the fabulously wealthy Lim family want Li Lan to marry their son. 

The only problem is, he’s dead.

After a fateful visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets, before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.

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GC: How long have you been writing? Was Ghost Bride your first novel?

YC: Since childhood, I’ve enjoyed writing short stories and drawing cartoons - in fact, I wanted to be a cartoonist for a while! 

I always thought of it as a hobby and continued writing even after I starting work as an adult. Mostly short stories, though I also spent 8 years writing a rather terrible elephant detective novel. 

THE GHOST BRIDE actually began as a subplot for that book, but thank goodness doesn’t have any pachyderm sleuths in it!

GC: What did your query process look like?

YC: I was quite naive when I started querying my novel. Perhaps in some ways, this was a good thing because I had no idea about how bad the odds were of getting a book published and might have been too discouraged to try! 

However, what I did was I googled “how to find a literary agent”, which brought up lots of useful information. I also had a good friend who had just gone through the whole agenting process, and she pointed me to 2 websites - and - that were really helpful. 

I spent some time working on a 1 page query letter, sent it out to about 30 literary agents, and was very surprised and grateful to get 6 offers of representation. 

What I really appreciated was the opportunity to talk to different agents, a very interesting experience because every agent has his/her individual vision for your book. Since my book crosses genres (historical/fantasy), there were some agents who told me it was a straight historical novel, others who wanted to pitch it as fantasy. One agent who specialized in YA said she wanted to turn it into a YA trilogy, while yet another agent (who didn’t give me an offer but a revise and resubmit) said he’d prefer it without all the ghosts and dead people. 

I ended up with Jenny Bent, a wonderful agent who said she saw it as general book club fiction. Jenny actually wrote a blog post about finding my query letter in the slush pile, which you can read if you’d like to hear an agent’s point of view! 

GC: Can you share a bit about how Ghost Bride found its editor, and home, at William Morrow?

YC: I’d have to say that was all thanks to Jenny! 

She worked with me on book edits for a few months, and then when the book was ready, she submitted it and sold it in two weeks at auction. That was really amazing and wonderful. 

People sometimes ask me whether it’s worth it to have a literary agent, and I would say it is definitely worth it to have a good agent. A good agent will have contacts that you don’t, and will be able to find a home for your book. I was very happy that THE GHOST BRIDE was picked up by Rachel Kahan at William Morrow! It’s been a good fit and she’s a wonderful editor. 

If you have the chance, it’s always a good idea to go and visit your publisher. Nowadays, everything can actually be done without ever meeting face to face - manuscripts and books are emailed etc - but it’s really nice to meet up if you can. 

I happened to take a trip to NYC before my book came out and asked if I could stop by HarperCollins to meet the team who was working on my book. It was raining, but I couldn’t believe that I was actually going to visit HarperCollins. I think they’ve moved offices now, but when I went it looked like a set from Mad Men in the 1960s. If you’re curious about more details, I’ve written a blog post about it.

GC: What part of the publication process surprised you the most?

YC: One thing that was surprising was that most authors don’t have a say in their book covers. People used to ask me “What’s your book gong to look like?” and I would tell them “I have no idea.” 

I think if you’re really famous, like JK Rowling, then you probably can do what you like, but most debut authors like myself wait in anticipation to see what the publisher comes up with. And to be honest, they probably have a much better sense of the market that they’re aiming for. 

One day I came home and found there was a slim package waiting for me. It was the cover art for THE GHOST BRIDE and I was so surprised! 

It’s a lovely cover - very dreamlike and captures the ghostly, fantastic feeling of the Chinese Afterlife. 

They did ask for some input and we changed the font and added a batik pattern to the girl’s dress, but I’m grateful that the cover turned out so well. I have a friend who worked as a book designer and he said sometimes authors don’t like their book covers because it’s not what they imagined. 

GC: What's next for you as a writer?

YC: I’m working on my second book - a detective novel, but thankfully it doesn’t have any elephants in it! 

It will also be set in colonial Malaya (the old name for Malaysia, where I come from), but this time in the 1930s.

GC: Can't wait to read that, Yangsze! Thank you!

YC: Thank you so much for having me - it’s been a pleasure!

Author bio:

Yangsze Choo is a fourth generation Chinese from Malaysia. After graduating from Harvard, she worked in various corporate jobs while secretly writing fiction between financial spreadsheets. Yangsze eats and reads too much and often does both at the same time at her blog

Follow the rest of the tour:

4th Guest Blog @ Fire & Ice
5th Character Spotlight @ Pages From My Thoughts
6th Author Interview @ The Mod Podge Bookshelf
7th Recipe Reveal @ Pieces of Whimsy
8th Character Spotlight @ Gobs and Gobs of Books 

11th Guest Blog @ A Dream Within A Dream 
12th Recipe Reveal @ Bookish Things and More 
13th Author Interview @ Bibliophelia, Please
14th Recipe Reveal @ Fantasy's Ink
15th Character Spotlight @ Addicted Readers


erin said...

this sounds fantastic! I think I'd rather be the bride to the ghost groom but it sounds ghoulish :) thanks for sharing!

Vivien said...

Tough.....I'll go with bride.