Last year in 2022, we sat down with Blood Heir trilogy author Amélie Wen Zhao to talk about her writing inspiration, advice for aspiring authors, and what celebrating Lunar New Year means to her. Find out why we’re so inspired by Amélie, who wrote a bestselling series while working her full-time finance job. If you loved her Blood Heir trilogy, you won’t want to miss her new book, Song of Silver, Flame Like Night!
What was your inspiration for the Blood Heir trilogy?
I grew up across three different countries (France, China, then the US), so my multicultural upbringing was a huge influence in the cross-cultural themes I wanted to explore in the Blood Heir trilogy. In particular, I wanted to weave in and critique social issues that we don’t often see in western literature to introduce a new perspective to my readers. Inspiration found me when I was on a trip to Russia: the grand history of the land and the diversity of its peoples really struck a chord with me, as well as having grown up with the story of its last ruling family, the Romanovs.
Congratulations on the upcoming release of Crimson Reign! What was your writing process?
Thank you! I work a full-time job in finance, so I block off the early morning and late evenings for my writing. This is actually great, because it forces me to be efficient and focus instead of getting distracted. I’ll usually start by summarizing, in three to four sentences, several key beats I want to happen in the scene I’m writing that day. This is so I’m not staring at a blank page – I start off with dots I can connect if I get stuck. And I always have music on. I have playlists for each of the books I work on, and they just transport me to certain scenes, certain emotions, and certain characters.
Any advice for aspiring fantasy authors?
My motto always centers around: work hard and work smart. You’ve got to be willing to put in the (hundreds of) hours to sit down and actually write and revise the book. You’ve also got to constantly be elevating your skillset — which comes with seeking feedback on your writing from fellow writers and critique partners.
What does celebrating Lunar New Year mean to you?
Back home in Beijing, celebrating Lunar New Year was gathering with my entire extended family to make dumplings! There’s so much chatter, kids running around and laughing, grandparents drinking tea, and the décor is bright with lots and lots of red — the lucky color in many Asian/East Asian cultures. After a delicious meal, we’ll snuggle up in the living room and watch the Lunar New Year programs that various channels put on, which is typically a combination of dances and songs (both traditional and modern), stand-up comedy, and various other segments. Then, at midnight, we’ll put on our warmest winter coats and go outside to watch the fireworks in the night.
What will Lunar New Year look like for you this year?
This year, with the pandemic, I’ll be celebrating in New York City with friends from China. We’re planning a hotpot feast! I’ll also be celebrating with my family in China via a FaceTime call home. Hoping that for the next year, I’ll be able to celebrate at home with them in person.
About the Author
Amélie Wen Zhao was born in Paris and grew up in Beijing in an international community. Her multicultural upbringing instilled in her a deep love of global affairs and cross-cultural perspectives. She seeks to bring this passion to her stories, crafting characters from kingdoms in different corners of the world. She attended college in New York City, where she now lives. Amélie is the author of the Blood Heir trilogy—Blood Heir, Red Tigress, and Crimson Reign—as well as Song of Silver, Flame Like Night.