Today I am very pleased to have the author of Daughter of Xanadu, Dori Jones Yang, on my blog. She's also offered up a copy of the book for giveaway.
My question to Dori: Daughter of Xanadu involves a 16-year-old girl, Princess Emmajin, who wants to become a warrior. How do you think young girls today can gather the strength they need to pursue their dreams? Where did your strength come from when you were a child?
Dori Jones Yang, author of Daughter of Xanadu, talks about strength, confidence and perseverance.
Throughout much of history, including the Mongol Era when Emmajin lived, young women and girls did not have many choices. Emmajin, eldest granddaughter of the Great Khan, was expected to agree to a marriage arranged to secure a family alliance. She was lucky that she lived in a time of change, when new customs were replacing old ways, so that she could, though sheer force of will, insist on taking a different path, to try to succeed in a man’s world. I think her strength came from the confidence she built up, practicing to be an excellent archer.
When I was a teenager, I also lived a time of change, when women were being accepted into professions traditionally open only to men. Until the early 1970s, the major newsmagazines hired women only as researchers and not as reporters, a job offered only to men. By the time I got a job in journalism, that had changed, and I was able to work as a reporter. In the early days, I had such a severe lack of confidence that it was hard for me to pick up the phone and call someone for an interview. But I kept doing it till I knew I was good at it.
Being a good journalist did not mean I could be a good novelist. So when I switched to fiction, I had to learn from the beginning, make mistakes, and persevere even when publishers rejected my work. It took me nearly ten years to write Daughter of Xanadu and get it published. Every time I failed, I dusted myself off and tried again.
Young women today have many more options, but that causes confusion for many girls – and they have to live up to much higher expectations than I did. What college? What major? What field of work? When everything is available, it takes strength, determination, and clarity of mind to find your own path.
Strength comes from confidence, and confidence comes from undertaking something difficult and persevering until you can do it well. If you take on challenging things when you are young – organizing events, mastering a musical instrument, working hard at a competitive sport – and keep working at it until you are confident that you are good at it – then you will build up the strength to persevere in pursuing your life’s path. People who just drift and don’t challenge themselves don’t have a chance to develop the true confidence it takes to achieve.
So I would say: Pick one activity and do it super-well! When you blow it (and you will), pick yourself up and keep going. If you learn how to power through tough challenges, you will develop the strength you need to pursue your dreams.
Please visit me at my website, www.dorijonesyang.com to find out more about Daughter of Xanadu!
Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (January 11th, 2011)
Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardback: 352 pages
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.
- 1 winner will receive a finished copy of Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang.
- You must be at least 13 to enter.
- Name and email must be provided and counts as 1 entry.
- Extra entries are possible and links must be provided.
- Contest is US Only and ends February 18th.
- Once contacted the winner will have 48 hours to respond with their mailing address.
- The form must be filled out to enter.
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