Hi Cindy, and welcome to MG Book Village! I’m so delighted to be a part of your cover reveal. Please introduce yourself so our readers can get to know you a bit.
Hello! I’m so excited to be here and share the cover for my next book! Before I became a children’s book author, I was a journalist for many years. I started off in broadcast as a television news producer and then this thing called the Internet started to get big, so I switched to producing news for kids online. Later I transitioned to entertainment, working at both Disney-ABC and Sony Pictures Entertainment here in Los Angeles, where I live. Now I spend my time dreaming up stories for kids to enjoy. I get a little help from my two cats, who like to warm my feet as I write.
I absolutely loved your debut book, THE TWELVE, which just came out in July. Can you tell our readers a little bit about it for those who aren’t familiar with it?
Oh, it’s so gratifying to hear that you enjoyed it! Thank you — it’s still surreal to know that my book is out in the world when it was just in my head (and computer) for so long. THE TWELVE is set in a land where some are blessed with the powers of the Asian zodiac, which is made up of twelve animals (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog and boar) and five elements (fire, water, earth, wood and metal). Usagi, a 12-year-old orphan born in the year of the Wood Rabbit, can leap over treetops and hear a squirrel’s heartbeat from a mile away. She lives secretly in the forest with her little sister and best friend in order to hide their powers from the Dragonlord, the ruthless ruler of their island kingdom. When both her sister and her best friend are captured, Usagi teams up with a ragtag group of rebels who turn out to be the last surviving Heirs of the Twelve — a mystical group of warriors who once protected the land. As she seeks to rescue her loved ones, Usagi must learn to master her own talents and gifts, and find her inner warrior.
Did you know that you were going to write a sequel to it?
Happily, yes! Which means that as I wrote THE TWELVE, I had to keep in mind what I wanted to explore in a sequel, and try to leave some openings for another book. At the same time you want the story to be satisfying on its own! It was definitely a fun challenge.
What inspired you to write this series?
I was taking my very first creative writing class, right around the time of the Lunar New Year. The year of the Rat was giving way to the year of the Ox, and I started thinking about all the animals of the zodiac, and what it would be like if people had powers of the animal that ruled the year of their birth. People will say “I’m an Ox!” or “I’m a Tiger!” in relation to their birth year — so what would it mean if they actually had the powers of a tiger or an ox? And wouldn’t that make a cool story? So that was the start, but it took me a while to learn the building blocks of fiction writing, and also to figure out how to incorporate my idea in a way and a world that made sense to me.
Well, I think you certainly figured out those building blocks! What do you hope that readers will take away from your books?
I hope that they’re inspired to think about what their own talents and gifts might be! Zodiac powers aside, I believe everyone has something special in them that can be cultivated. There’s something so satisfying about seeing hard work pay off, and to have the support of friends and family come through, especially when you think you’re alone. I’m really drawn to stories that explore all that.
As a kid I loved reading fantasy adventure (and still do!) but rarely saw anything that incorporated the rich traditions and myths of my Asian heritage. My dream is for readers to identify with and inhabit the characters and worlds I create, just as I did in my childhood reading stories about fauns, elves, and wizards. Ultimately, I hope that my readers are transported to another world for a while — and have lots of fun while they’re there.
Were you involved in the process of designing this cover, and is it the same illustrator for both books?
The covers for both books are illustrated by Sher Rill Ng, an enormously talented artist in Melbourne, Australia. She did such an incredible job with THE TWELVE, so I was excited to see what she would do with TREASURES. I know she read an early draft of the sequel, just as she’d read a draft of the first book. My editor had asked if I had any ideas of scenes from the second book that might inspire a cover illustration, and I submitted a list of possibilities. But I had absolute faith in both Sher Rill and art director Molly Fehr that they’d find something that worked — I didn’t bank on them going with any of my ideas. It just was a bonus to find that they went with a scene I’d thought had potential. They also showed me a few color sketches before the cover was finalized, and I got to give input on the color scheme I liked the best. I have to say, everything they showed me was beautiful — it was hard to choose!
What did you think when you saw it?
was beyond thrilled! Seeing it fills me with joy. I adore the colors, and the new characters, and everything about it, really. I love the scene that it represents, which was so much fun to write, and can’t wait for people to read it. I think it makes a fabulous companion to the first book, but is also beautiful on its own. Also, I love butterflies!
OK, let’s show everyone what it looks like!
Oh WOW, this is absolutely gorgeous!! I cannot wait to read it and delve back into this world! Thank you so much for letting us be part of the reveal. Please tell us what the release date is for TREASURES OF THE TWELVE, and where can readers learn more about you and your books?
TREASURES OF THE TWELVE is scheduled to hit shelves on July 7, 2020!
It can be added on Goodreads here:
A former journalist with degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University, Cindy Lin has worked for Sony Pictures Entertainment and has written and produced many multimedia news features for children, one of which received a Peabody Award. The Twelve is her debut novel. You can learn more about Cindy at www.cindylinbooks.com.