Character Interview: Xifeng from Forest of A Thousand Lanterns

Today, I’m bringing you an exclusive look at Julie Dao’s upcoming novel, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, by interviewing it’s fantastic main character, Xifeng!

Xifeng is ambitious, intelligent and ruthless –  the perfect Evil Queen from Snow White, set in Silk Road China.

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute. (via Goodreads)

I can’t tell you how much I want to read Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. I adore Julie as a person, and all of the excerpts I’ve read have been thrilling. I hope you enjoy getting to know Xifeng as much as I did!


Q: What’s the most important trait to you in a friend or romantic partner?

They should listen when I need it, give advice when I need it, and do whatever I want when I need it. All without question, of course. I can’t stand being questioned.


Q: What is your favorite emoji?

The red heart, naturally. Doesn’t it look bright and beautiful and juicy? Why are you looking at me like that? Did I say juicy out loud?


Q: What do you like best about yourself?

I think of life as a series of doors. As long as you have the brains and the resourcefulness (and I certainly do), you can open whatever doors you want. Nothing is closed to you if you’re willing to force some open to get to your destiny.


Q: What do you like the least about yourself?

A ridiculous question. I like everything about myself. Wouldn’t you, if you looked like me and had a fine mind like my own? I may hesitate and over-think at times… and yes, I tend to have difficulty choosing between two extremes… but the decision always gets made.


Q: What unusual hobbies or interests do you have?

My soul thrills to poetry and I know much about geography, history, politics. I don’t know if that’s what you would call unusual, but most women I know are as learned as rabbits. Oh, rabbits… I like hunting rabbits. My aunt taught me how to trap them and use their hearts for our magi… cooking. Yes, cooking, what did you think I was going to say? Honestly.


Q: What part of your life are you willing to spend more money on for quality?

Appearance is everything. The first thing you notice about a person is what they look like and what they are wearing. For instance, I look at you and… well, let’s not talk about that. But me, with jewels and blossoms swept up in my night-dark hair and the priceless silks that cascade around my body… you must admit I make quite an impression. Imagine me sweeping into a room in this red-and-gold brocade, with glinting razor-sharp nail guards on my fingers. Every coin and every minute of the day spent on my appearance is well worth it, obviously.


Q: When do you consider it an appropriate time to lie?

When is it ever inappropriate, as long as it benefits you? Words are words. People will get over it, or they won’t. I don’t much care.


Q: How do you measure success?

When I am in control… full control of my existence. When I have seized my destiny and vanquished each of my enemies, one by one, and men and women and gods alike fall at my feet and acknowledge my greatness.


Q: Have you ever been in love?

Another ridiculous question. Pass. What? I have to answer it? Let me enlighten you, my dear… I do not have to do anything I don’t wish to do. But I see that pathetic eagerness in your eyes, so I will respond, being the benevolent person I am. Yes, I have been in love once and I never will be again. And that’s all I will say about it. No, don’t be absurd, of course I’m not crying.


Q: What talent would you most like to have?

I want what anyone else would want: to be able to stay as I am forever, young and magnificent and admired far and wide.

Now, are we quite finished with this interview? I have some hearts I need to destr… win over. Did you know you have the most irritating habit of supposing I’m about to give a different answer to the one I provide?


Xifeng sounds like a fantastic character to read, and if you agree, you can preorder Forest of a Thousand Lanterns on Amazon, Indiebound or your other favorite booksellers! I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Disclaimer: All links to Indiebound and Amazon are affiliate links, which means that if you buy through those links, I will make a small amount of money off of it.

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