Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns Launch Party Recap

I was ecstatic to attend Julie Dao's Forest of a Thousand Lanterns launch party at Porter Square Books on Thursday, October 12th. I got out of work early so I could venture to Cambridge and still had time to catch dinner before the event.

Julie's launch party is probably the best launch party I've attended. From her homemade photo booth frame to themed cupcakes and drinks, she really set the bar high. Even her brothers helped out with handing out raffle tickets, holding up the photo frame to taking photos. Her mother is the sweetest too. She helped out with setting up the sweets and drinks and even sewed cute fleece snakes.

Julie started the launch with a reading from her book and then answered questions from the audience. It was wonderful to hear about her writing and publishing journey. It took her ten years to get a book published. Julie's passion is in writing but her father didn't want her to pursue a writing career. So Julie majored in pre-med and biology. However, she felt like she lost herself in college and was unhappy. Julie ended up returning to what she loves doing.

When she first acquired an agent, the manuscript she was working on was a topic that wasn't going to sell well. Later on, her proposed idea about writing about a world of women of kingdoms fighting for the throne became Forest of a Thousand Lanterns which took 5 weeks to write and 1.5 years to revise. She had this idea since she was 13-years-old. Her ideas poured out of her as she transferred everything on paper. Julie said the hardest part of writing is to put a envisioned story on paper but the revisions are probably the toughest. Julie is a Type A and plots a lot prior to writing.

Julie describes the book as dark and and bold just like her writing career. She wanted to have an all Asian world with an Asian cast. She wanted to see herself in a book! She did a lot of research on imperial life and some of her inspiration came from the epic Chinese dramas her mom used to watch. Julie wanted elements of Snow White to be fresh and original in her novel. She twisted and bended the elements to make it her own with the apple, mirror and the Evil Queen wanting Snow White's heart. Julie calls her copies of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns her horcruxes. They are part of her soul!

Julie told the audience a few teasers about the next book. The draft is done and the series is a duology. The next book is about Snow White when she is about 17-18 ready to reclaim the throne! Julie's favorite character is Ambassador Shiro. The second book was harder to write because she had a fixed deadline. There is more pressure and the acting of putting words and ideas on the page is harder when there is a time crunch. Her third book will either be set in the same world as Forest of a Thousand Lanterns or it will be a standalone.

When Julie talked about YA, she mentioned that YA is finding out what you want and who you are. It's about becoming who you are meant to be and what the universe wants you to explore. Julie provided advice to aspiring writers. Write about what you love. And make sure you have a good writing community to support you.

In terms of diversity in Hollywood films being based on a novel, Julie mentioned that it's important to be true to the story. The representation on film is starting to become more diverse than before.

Thank you so much to Porter Square Books, Julie Dao and her family as well as Philomel for making this launch party a success! Also, it was nice to see Ellie again and to hang out with Janella and Christy. I love going to book events to celebrate authors, books and talk everything bookish with book friends!


  1. Great recap! I wish I wrote up notes to do one myself. I loved all the decorations and snacks!(Those cupcakes. Nooom)

    1. Thank you! It was a pretty epic launch and the decorations and snacks were perfect! it was nice seeing you at the book launch party!

  2. This looks super fun. I am very into the fleece snakes.

    1. It was definitely the best launch party I've been to. Julie and her family did a fantastic job to engage everyone and made the event very interactive. I was also fortunate enough to have won one of the raffles for a fleece snake!