Annie K. Wong is the author of fantasy adventure Children of Lightning! The Chinese-Canadian writer agreed to stop by and tell us more about her book. Be sure to check out the giveaway at the bottom of the page!
About Children of Lightning
childreSecrets beget secrets. The curse that befell the Hollows clan has left them incapable of producing male offspring. To extend their bloodline, they have formed a covenant with the serpentine Ophidians, who give them children. In return, the Hollows must keep these monstrous creatures well fed, though the details of the procurement are so abominable that the truth is never revealed to the other clans. In their homeland of Matikki, they live like outcasts.
Through a series of chance discoveries, the secrets of the ancient curse unfold before a warrior named Writhren Hollow. Is her purely female clan the result of a lapse of divine providence, or are the Hollows themselves victims of an enslavement scheme?
If Writhren frees her clan from the covenant, she risks the wrath of the Ophidians and the future of her bloodline. If she keeps the truth of the curse to herself, she is a traitor to her own kind. Either way, she will suffer for what she must do.
This is not a story of redemption, but regret. This is Writhren’s story.
Interview with Author Annie K. Wong
1) Tell me a little about yourself.
I grew up in Hong Kong and was almost twenty when I left for university in the U.S. Although I don’t get along easily with my mother, she has been instrumental in shaping my life and allowing me to become a writer. If not for her, I wouldn’t have received my college education and years later, immigrated to Canada where I met my current partner, Scott. It was during college that I discovered my ability as a storyteller, and in Vancouver that I had the opportunity to study film, an experience which has changed and enhanced my storytelling skills.
Currently, I work in the transportation industry by day and pursue a writing career in my spare time.
2) Tell me a little about your writing history.
I discovered my talent in storytelling in college, but I did not pursue writing as a career then because I was lazy and afraid. Writing is not for the faint of heart. The writing process can be grueling, the rate of failure very high. I was not ready for the challenge as an undergrad.
Unbeknownst to me, this urge to write had remained dormant in me for more than a decade after I left college and reared its (ugly) head in my mid-thirties when I was older, more mature and perhaps more capable of tackling the difficulties of a writing life. Being the fighter that I am, I battled against this inner voice that beckoned me to be a writer. I did that for a year and lost.
I was reluctant at first, but once I put my fingers to the keyboard, I discovered a new me, an explorer of brand new worlds and dangerous, complex situations. I became hooked onto the adrenaline of every story twist and turn unfolding before my eyes. Yes, writing continues to be difficult, but the difficulty is what makes it so, very rewarding.
3) Your first book is called Children of Lightning. Tell me a little about it.
Children of Lightning is the prequel to a book series I have been working on since 2010. It is about Writhren Hollow, a snake-haired warrior, who while trying to save her clan from extinction ends up becoming the villain in the story.
4) How did this story come about?
Before I wrote Children of Lightning, I spent a couple years drafting the first book in a fantasy series about a young hero rising against an ancient and powerful monster who vows to destroy her family and the world. After I finished the manuscript, however, I became curious about this monster, where she came from and how she became so full of vengeance. Even though she is the villain, I found it unjust to the character to simply bring her out to be defeated. She needed her own story.
People often overlook the importance of the villain in a story, especially in the fantasy genre. Without the villain initiating the attack, there will be no reason for defense, for heroic deeds. For this reason, the villain gives birth to the hero, and a well-rounded villain is more interesting, more challenging. The more we know about a monster, the less monstrous she becomes, and yet, because of who she is, she continues to be threatening. The hero’s battle against this evil force will be more complex and in the end, more rewarding. That is why I decide to write an origin story for the villain in my book series, Writhen Hollow, the result of which is Children of Lightning.
5) Since this is a fantasy novel, you basically built a whole new world with new races and a new mythology. What was building this world like?
Complicated. 🙂 It happened in stages, beginning with the characters and their physical appearances. These “children of lightning” or lucerians as they are called, are not human, and the way they were first created necessitates a homeland filled with volcanoes. Additional geographical details were then added to advance the plot, and a name was given to this mythical land: Matikki.
When the basic landscape was set, I imagined the kind of architecture they would have in Matikki. Would it make sense to have houses made of wood in a volcanic land? Could I make these houses look exotic and plausible at the same time?
Finally, since Matikki is a volcanic land where magic thrives and Writhren and her peers are not human, their culture and beliefs should be very different from ours. What colours do they associate with life and death? How do they organize themselves, govern themselves? Do they have a monarch or a warlord as a ruler? What do they use as a currency of trade? Dollar bills or magic spells? These details took a long time to take shape, the result of which has been a combination of imagination and logic.
6) Are there any themes or subplots you hope readers will pick up on?
There is a Chinese saying that states, “Succeed and become a king; fail and become a traitor” (成王敗寇). The saying refers to the ancient times when people rebelled against a ruthless, suppressive regime, which often involved assassinating the king. The rebel leader who succeeded in killing the king would be the next monarch. He who failed would be killed for treason. Two people having the same intention and making the same attempt for greatness could be defined very differently depending on the result of their efforts. The line between a hero and a villain can be very thin.
My book is an origin story of a villain. To say that Writhren Hollow is a victim of circumstances would be an over-simplification. Yes, fate might not have been kind to her, but she, like any normal person, never set out to be evil. At what point did she choose the path of darkness? How much is she responsible for her subsequent role in the story? Hopefully, readers will give Children of Lightning a try and find out.
7) What writers in the sci-fi/fantasy genre inspired you?
I have mentioned in other posts my love for Garth Nix’s The Old Kingdom series and the works of China Mieville. I also admire the world building work in epic fantasies such as A Song of Ice and Fire series.
One of the books I am currently reading is The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. His choice for the narrator and point of view for the story are interesting. Karen Russell is another writer I have recently discovered and love. The works of these two writers are considered as more “magical realism” than strictly fantasy, but I find their stories just as imaginative, not to mention very well written.
8) What are you working on now?
I am thinking of writing a story about a contemporary of Writhren Hollow and continue the mythology from a different angle.
Annie K. Wong was born in Hong Kong and lives in Canada, in the west coast city of Vancouver, BC. She has a BA in Business Administration and Creative Writing from Houghton College as well as a Diploma in Film Studies from the University of British Columbia. Although she explored careers in advertising, television and office administration, the desire to write overtook her at the turn of the new millennium. In 2003 she earned a Post-Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Humber College and has been crafting stories ever since.
Her current project is a fantasy series, the prequel of which is Children of Lightning.
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