“After a great war, the East Pacific is in ruins. In brutal Neo Seoul, where status comes from success in combat, ex-gang member Lee Jaewon is a talented pilot rising in the ranks of the academy. Abandoned as a kid in the slums of Old Seoul by his rebel father, Jaewon desires only to escape his past and prove himself a loyal soldier of the Neo State.
When Jaewon is recruited into the most lucrative weapons development division in Neo Seoul, he is eager to claim his best shot at military glory. But the mission becomes more complicated when he meets Tera, a test subject in the government’s supersoldier project. Tera was trained for one purpose: to pilot one of the lethal God Machines, massive robots for a never-ending war.
With secret orders to report on Tera, Jaewon becomes Tera’s partner, earning her reluctant respect. But as respect turns to love, Jaewon begins to question his loyalty to an oppressive regime that creates weapons out of humans. As the project prepares to go public amidst rumors of a rebellion, Jaewon must decide where he stands—as a soldier of the Neo State, or a rebel of the people.
Pacific Rim meets Korean action dramas in this mind-blowing, New Visions Award-winning science fiction debut.”
So, here is the INCREDIBLE interview with Axie Oh! I seriously think it’s the longest interview I’ve ever done! And my SEO hates me for it.
Interview with Axie Oh
I got my first pick of authors to host!! My #1 pick for this year’s Debut Author Bash, is Axie Oh. I was actually supposed to make it to her signing at ALA and I ended up on the other side of the room, watching someone’s stuff. Ugh. Still bitter that I missed her signing. But, at least I’ve got her now!! *cackles* Plus, I love her name. It’s SMOL, but mighty. Love the name Axie. It just sounds wonderful. But now, the stuff you actually came for, the interview! (I’m in bold after this, Axie is in regular font!)
Ok, I confess, because of a completely insane school&life schedule I’m only a third of the way through Rebel Seoul. But I adore it so far!! So I’m suuuper jazzed to be hosting you for the Debut Author Bash this year!
I also want to say (no spoilers) that one of the first character deaths actually made me cry. It’s rare that I cry and even rarer to make me cry less than 100 pages into a novel. I don’t think that’s actually ever happened before. Props to you! But also, BOO! I liked that character. Haha.
Ok, so it took me forever to come up with questions I thought weren’t completely worthless. First question! Was there a specific story or event (fictional or otherwise) that inspired you to write?
I think I can pinpoint several moments. When applying for colleges, I wrote a personal essay that made everyone who read it cry! My senior year English teacher pulled me aside and said I should try creative writing. In college, I double majored in English/Writing and History (with an emphasis on East Asian history). Three of my writing teachers, separately, pulled me aside after class to say that I should submit my work for publication or pursue writing as a career. One even suggested I write with my culture and understanding of history in mind (and this was before WNDB or the push for #ownvoices work), and so I was intrigued and excited about the idea of writing stories influenced by my Korean heritage.
That’s way cool. I love life stories where people figure out things about you before you do. It’s just a wonderful way to witness the radiance of talent.
Was there a specific moment/thing that inspired Rebel Seoul’s story specifically?
It was a dream! I had a dream one night about a girl standing atop the tallest building in a city and listening to a song drifting through the night. She was crying in the dream because she’d never heard something so beautiful. When I woke up, I thought to myself – who was she? Where was she? What moved her about the song? What was the song? I started answering these questions and it became the start of REBEL SEOUL.
Feeling emotion through a dream is really intense. Though none of mine have inspired amazeballs books, I have felt some so intense that my parents met with a pastor. XD
Jaewon has an amazing spirit. Is there a person or character out there that inspired his…Jaewon-ness? (Trying so hard to avoid spoilers. Maybe it’s good I haven’t read it all yet hahaha….)
He’s sort of the quintessential Korean drama hero – good-hearted and sensitive with a dramatic backstory! As for a specific character, I definitely had Lee Jong Suk’s character Go Nam Soon from the drama School 2013 in mind when trying to nail down the voice of Jaewon.
Do you have a dream-cast for Jaewon &/or Tera?
Speaking of Lee Jong Suk, he’s my dream-actor for Jaewon. For Tera, I’ve always imagined her as f(x)’s Krystal/Jung Soojung. I feel like Lee Jong Suk has that dependable look to him (also he’s gorgeous), and Krystal is fierce!
(I really hope this are photos of the right actors. a lot of the pages were in Korean so that was expected but also a little confusing. Google isn’t the most accurate translator as many of you know….but Lee Jong Suk is adorable and Krystal is gorgeous! Definitely a great cast. (Sources: Lee Jong Suk – Krystal)
Not going to lie, I feel very entranced in the world of Neo Seoul. I get some great vibes from it, it’s very industrial feeling. Which is something we don’t get enough of in YA. The last time I got this amazing industrial tone was from Legend by Marie Lu (one of my all-time favs)
Rebel Seoul also coincides with me watching Voltron Legendary Defender and some other mecha anime that I’m finally getting around to. Anime is of course, mostly Japanese, not Korean. But, do you have any anime favorites you’d like to share?
Yes! I came of age watching 90’s anime television shows like Gundam Wing, (OH! I want to watch that one…) Sailor Moon, and the Vision of Escaflowne. In college, I watched even more shows. My favorites include Blood+ and Gundam 00 (Those last two are on my list as well). I love the epic-ness of anime, and REBEL SEOUL’s second main influence besides Korean dramas is anime!
Ok, I have some friends that are HUGE BTS fans, they are perhaps the first K-pop band to reach a wide American audience (except for maybe Gangnam Style by Psy). By proxy, I am absolutely obligated to ask (If I value my life anyway) about your favorite bands/music, K-Pop or otherwise!
Honestly, I love all K-pop groups and my favorites change year-to-year, even month-to-month. My all-time favorite artist would be G-Dragon from Big Bang, followed closely by IU. Right now I’m listening to BTS, Red Velvet, Taeyeon & Lee Hi.
(I’ll need to give these a listen. You can’t go wrong with a name that has Dragon in it…but also, Red Velvet might make me hungry lol.)
I know you’ve answered this question before, but I just HAVE to ask you personally, because who knows, maybe the answer is different. Are you really digging any K-drama’s right now?
Right now? Actually no! I go through phases and right now I’m in a reading-phase. But my mom just watched one called “Because This is My First Life” that she really loved and recommended to me, and so I’ll definitely be watching that first thing in the New Year!
Hey! I do the phase thing too. I think it’s something within all of us readers/writers/artists/creatives. We like to live multiple lives. 😀
I haven’t dug into K-drama much (even though I really want to). I’ve seen some contemporaries and some historical K-dramas out there…but I was wondering, do you have any good Sci-Fi specific rec’s?
I really loved W: Two Worlds (starring Lee Jong Suk again). It’s a sci-fi romance about a woman who gets sucked into a manhwa (Korean comic book) (I learn something new every day! I read a few online Manhwa but had no idea it was a Korean word. I mean, duh Rach. But I wasn’t thinking about it!) and starts to interact with the characters in the manhwa, including the hero played by Lee Jong Suk. It’s super fun, fast-paced and romantic.
I’m going to take a moment to be nosy, you published your first book this year and I already know that I love your stuff. So, are you working on any new projects? Can you give us any hints?
I’ve been working on several projects, including a fantasy… but… I just got some awesome news a few weeks ago so *wink wink*. Expect an announcement in the New Year!
*FLAILS* OMG. That’s SO EXCITING. I can’t wait to hear about it. Just to let you know, this means I’ll be stalking your twitter and stuff till then.
Of course, with writing amazing novels, you might haven’t read much this year. Do you have any book recommendations for us?
I do! Speaking of the aforementioned LEGEND, Marie Lu’s WARCROSS is super action-packed and geeky – I absolutely loved it. And of course WANT by Cindy Pon, a cool sci-fi heist novel set in a futuristic Taipei, Tawian. I also loved Julie’s Dao’s lush and evocative fantasy, FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS, about a peasant girl’s rise to empress of the land! I also read a lot of middle grade, and super enjoyed Karuna Riazi’s THE GAUNTLET, out earlier this year, about three friends sucked into a board game.
Ok, do you have an OTP?
I have so many! Howl/Sophie (YAS), Attolia/Eugenides, Heero/Relena, Glenn/Maggie, Lyra/Will, Eleven/Mike, Van/Hitomi… (OMG. I have a lot of watching to do haha) I could go on…
Of course! I’m convinced that OTP actually stands for One of my True Pairings. Let’s be honest, who has just one OTP?!
Finally, my signature question. What is your favorite comfort food/meal?
I love this question! I love anything you can eat with rice. So – kimchi-jjigae (kimchi stew), grilled mackerel, all Korean soups (seaweed, spinach, radish). As for American-style, I love mashed potatoes!
I didn’t like rice at all until adulthood for reasons no one wants to know. XD It took me years to not lose my apetite looking at it. It just looked so much like something else…. Fun story, but I don’t want to scar anyone for life, unlike certain family members… But, I really love dirty rice and spicy rices. I should dig in and maybe try some recipes for those dishes!
Thank you so much for the interview, for Rebel Seoul, and for answering my billion and one questions! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year!!
Thank you so much for having me, Rachel, and for asking such fun questions!!! Happy Holidays <3
Ok! Now for the giveaway! For being so tardy I’m going to pop for an INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY for a HC of Rebel Seoul. It will be from Book Depository. So if BD ships to you, you are eligible to win!
Also, don’t forget to check out my previous Debut Bash posts!
In 2016 I hosted Jeff Zentner