Blog Tour for Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao (Q&A)


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I am so thrilled to be part of the Penguin blog tour for Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao.  Thank you to Penguin Teen for sending my a physical arc of the book (come back tomorrow for my review).  Today I will be sharing my Q&A with author Julie C. Dao.



Song of the Crimson Flower


Will love break the spell? After cruelly rejecting Bao, the poor physician’s apprentice who loves her, Lan, a wealthy nobleman’s daughter, regrets her actions. So when she finds Bao’s prized flute floating in his boat near her house, she takes it into her care, not knowing that his soul has been trapped inside it by an evil witch, who cursed Bao, telling him that only love will set him free. Though Bao now despises her, Lan vows to make amends and help break the spell.

Together, the two travel across the continent, finding themselves in the presence of greatness in the forms of the Great Forest’s Empress Jade and Commander Wei. They journey with Wei, getting tangled in the webs of war, blood magic, and romance along the way. Will Lan and Bao begin to break the spell that’s been placed upon them? Or will they be doomed to live out their lives with black magic running through their veins?

In this fantastical tale of darkness and love, some magical bonds are stronger than blood.


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author info



Julie Dao ( is a proud Vietnamese American who was born in Upstate New York. She studied medicine in college, but came to realize blood and needles were her kryptonite. By day, she worked in science news and research; by night, she wrote books about heroines unafraid to fight for their dreams, which inspired her to follow her passion of becoming a published author. She is the author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix. Julie lives in New England. Follow her on Twitter @jules_writes.




Q&A With Julie:



  • When writing fairy tales/fantasy with similar elements to others already out, how do you keep it unique for readers?



No two people can ever write the same exact story, even if they’re both working on, say, a Cinderella retelling. They will bring their own unique perspective and touch to the story! I keep that in mind, and I also ask myself questions that explore different angles of the same fairy tale. For my first published book, FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS, I asked myself: “What if the tale of Snow White was set in an Imperial Chinese-inspired kingdom?”


For SONG OF THE CRIMSON FLOWER, I asked myself: “What if the Vietnamese folktale of the boatman’s flute had a heroine who was a lot more relatable and not as cruel?” In the original tale, she turns away the boatman because he is so physically unattractive to her, and I knew I had to change that for my story if I wanted the heroine to be more of a sympathetic character.



  • What inspired the world in Song of the Crimson Flower?



The book is set in the same universe as FOTL and my second book, KINGDOM OF THE BLAZING PHOENIX, but it explores a kingdom we haven’t seen much of. The Sacred Grasslands is my analog for Vietnam, and the tale that I reimagined is a Vietnamese one.



  • How difficult was it to write a character, Lan, that was so mean and hurtful, but still needed to be a character for people to connect to? Do you prefer to write flawed characters?



I don’t think of Lan as mean and hurtful at all! That makes me a little sad! I never intended for readers to think of her like that. I wanted to write about a girl who had grown up with very preconceived notions: she was taught by her wealthy parents and social status that she deserved a certain destiny and that some people were more worthy than others. Over the course of the story, she learns a hard lesson about pre-judging other people based on their birth and she becomes a warmer, more understanding character.


It’s important to me to write a story with characters who have room to grow. If my heroes started off as completely perfect in every way at the beginning of the story, I don’t think readers would like that very much, either! It’s a lot more interesting to write about people who are human and have room to grow.



  • Can you give us a bio about your favorite character and why they are your favorite (without spoilers?) 



I have always loved the character of Wei. I love my messy, complicated characters who have a ton of room to grow and learn, and he has definitely grown and learned a lot since FOTL. For those who have read that book, he was once a love interest for Xifeng and has now risen to Commander of the Empress’s army. He may seem gruff, cold, and aloof, but he’s secretly a big softie and I had a lot of fun writing him in SOCF.



  • Can you tell the readers a bit about the black spice and bloodpox? How did you come up with those things and why were they important for this story (addiction)?



For my readers who have read FOTL and KOBP, they already know that black spice is part of the world and was used by Xifeng and her aunt in the first book. I have always wanted to expand on where that substance came from and how it was created, and I thought of a family who ruled a vast city in the south and manufactured it. Because black spice is so powerful, I also asked myself what the consequences might be of using it, and the bloodpox was born!

It was important to me to show that even though the world of Feng Lu had improved after the events of KOBP, it would never be perfect, and there would always be someone greedy and hungering for power. I wanted a war-torn backdrop for my love story, and so the Gray City was born!


I hope I didn’t offend Julie with my mean comment about Lan.  But she was super mean to Bao early on.  I guess just hurtful might have been better than mean and hurtful.  I know she was angry and taking things out on him, but talking down to him because he’s below her was crappy and made me not like her.  However, I did end up liking her as the story continued.  She surprised me at times.   I know that some other reviewers mentioned her cruelty, so I don’t think I was off on that.  But Lan was a great character because I not only enjoy flawed characters (more realistic), but I also love when characters show a lot of growth and learn from their mistakes.  I think a lot of the readers will understand what I meant by that and that it wasn’t an insult.  The hurtful reaction happened very early, so it set the tone for Lan.  Luckily she was actually a kind, caring person. 



Follow The Tour:


Blog Tour Schedule

Week One

November 4 – Velarisreads – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

November 5 – A Gingerly Review – Dream Cast

November 6 – – Creative Instagram Picture

November 7 – Lovely Loveday – Review

Week Two

November 11 – Old.enough.for.fairytales – Creative Instagram Picture

November 12 – Confessions of a YA Reader – Author Q&A

November 13 – Library Ladies – Review

November 14 – The Paige-Turner – Creative Instagram Picture + Tumblr post



Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to read my positive review of Song of the Crimson Flower.  Thank you Julie for answering my questions.  And thank you to Penguin Teen for asking me to be a part of this tour.












Author: confessionsofayareader

I'm Kristi. I'm a wife, mom, and grandma. I have been breeding leopard geckos for ten years. I love to read and have been trying to review more books (the reason for this blog besides wanting to talk about books with everyone). I also love music and going to concerts, mostly punk and pop punk.

2 thoughts on “Blog Tour for Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao (Q&A)”

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