Blog Tour: Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang

Welcome to Author Dori Jones Yang! Last month I read and reviewed her book Daughter of Xanadu. Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in a blog tour for her book.

A former foreign correspondent, I aim to build bridges between cultures, especially between China and America. My new book, Daughter of Xanadu, reveals my greatest passions: to explore exotic locales, celebrate strong women, seek wisdom, and make history come alive.

Daughter of a bookseller, I grew up in Youngstown, Ohio. My childhood was spent reading like crazy and writing stories. In high school, I fell in love with foreign travel, starting with a summer in France.

My father suggested a career in journalism. My first job was a summer internship with my hometown newspaper, where I wrote obituaries! At Princeton, I majored in history but spent most of my waking hours at the college newspaper.

After graduation, I went to Singapore for two years to teach English and study Mandarin Chinese. I traveled all over Asia on a shoestring and returned home through Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran, six months before the Shah fell. My next step was a master’s at Johns Hopkins in international affairs, with a focus on China.

The most exciting move of my journalism career was the day Business Week sent me to Hong Kong to be a foreign correspondent. I loved that job for eight years, covering the Sino-British negotiations over Hong Kong’s future and the Tiananmen Square crisis in Beijing. During these years, I met and married Paul Yang. Our three children are Steve, Serena, and Emily.

Since 1990, I have lived near Seattle. I covered Boeing and other Northwest companies for Business Week and later worked for U.S. News & World Report covering Microsoft, Silicon Valley, and the dot-com boom.

In 1995, I began writing books: business, children’s, young adult, oral history. You can read about these books on this website. Daughter of Xanadu tells a story of cross-cultural romance: something I know about personally!

Learning languages brings me joy: I speak Mandarin Chinese and also studied French, Cantonese, Japanese, and Malay. Playing music also makes me happy: piano, violin, cello, and the Chinese zither, called the guzheng. I have traveled widely, including many parts of China, Mongolia and the Silk Road.


If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
Oh, the past, for sure! I would travel straight to Xanadu, with its marble palace and meandering gardens, and I would stand very quietly in the background while Marco Polo bowed before Khubilai Khan. I would soak up every detail about clothing, food, music, customs, flowers, trees, brooks, meadows. Then I’d fly back to the present and scribble down everything I could remember.

If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?
Hmm, they’d all be authors, that’s for sure. I’d start with Amy Tan, Lisa See, Tracy Chevalier, Susan Vreeland, and Margaret George. Wouldn’t that be some dinner conversation!

If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?
A tablet, a pen, and a pair of fuzzy socks.

If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
I’d choose to understand all the world’s languages. Every one. Then I’d travel everywhere in the world and hold long, fascinating conversations with ordinary and extraordinary people in every country. Whoa, what I would learn!

Is there anything you need in order to write?
Total silence, for sure. I have to turn off my e-mail and telephone. Chocolate helps! Also coffee, in the morning. Many cups.

One food you would never eat?
The Chinese dish “stinky tofu.” They sell it on street corners in China, and the smell turns my stomach.

Pet Peeves?
TV announcers who pronounce Beijing with a soft j, as if it were French. It should be a hard j, as in ‘Jim.’ Every time I hear “Beizhing,” I cringe.

Skittles or M&Ms?
Oooh, how did you know. I’m an M&M person, with a serious addiction. To me, they are a justifiable work expense, because I can’t write without them.

If you could be one of the Greek Gods, which would it be, male or female, doesn’t matter and why?
Athena, goddess of wisdom. I imagine her helping me out when I’m thinking unwise thoughts. But I also admire the Mongolian/Tibetan goddess Tara, bodhisattva of compassion, with seven eyes, who can see into our hearts.

How do you react to a bad review?
Not well! I have to remind myself that every review is just one person’s opinion. And that I don’t like every book I read, either! However, if I don’t like a book, I just put it down gently and pick up another. That comes from knowing just how hard it is to write a book.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
If you love being transported to places long ago and far away, and you think you’d enjoy traveling with a kick-ass girl and a charming guy, read Daughter of Xanadu!

If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world, which would it be?
I’d jump into The Lord of the Rings and live in Hobbiton as a hobbit. When I saw the movie version of Hobbiton, it seemed as familiar as my childhood home. The closest I could come in real life was a visit to New Zealand, where it was filmed.

Write a haiku about your book.
Emmajin, archer,
meets storyteller, Marco;
tries to spy, sparks fly.

Visit Dori’s Website:

Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang:
Athletic and strong willed, Princess Emmajin’s determined to do what no woman has done before: become a warrior in the army of her grandfather, the Great Khan Khubilai. In the Mongol world the only way to achieve respect is to show bravery and win glory on the battlefield. The last thing she wants is the distraction of the foreigner Marco Polo, who challenges her beliefs in the gardens of Xanadu. Marco has no skills in the “manly arts” of the Mongols: horse racing, archery, and wrestling. Still, he charms the Khan with his wit and story-telling. Emmajin sees a different Marco as they travel across 13th-century China, hunting ‘dragons’ and fighting elephant-back warriors. Now she faces a different battle as she struggles with her attraction towards Marco and her incredible goal of winning fame as a soldier.

Giveaway Details:
1 copy of Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang
Open Internationally
Ends 2/8/11

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