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What is Xanadu?

Good question. And how to pronounce it?   Sounds like “Zanna-doo.”

Many people think Xanadu is a mythical place – like Shangri-La. Other people think Xanadu is just a movie and a song by Olivia Newton-John, about a nightclub!

In fact, Xanadu was a real place, site of the summer palace of Khubilai Khan. In Chinese, it’s called Yuan Shangdu, which means “the Upper Capital of the Yuan Dynasty.” Marco Polo called it Chandu, Shandu, or Xandu, depending on which version of his book you’re reading.

A famous English poet named Samuel Taylor Coleridge had a dream about it and wrote a poem in which he called it Xanadu, and that’s the spelling that stuck.

Let me tell you, Xanadu is not easy to locate.

In 2007, I set out

Online reviews of Daughter of Xanadu

Heather of Michigan, prolific reader and blog reviewer, has become the first person to review Daughter of Xanadu. Here is the link to Heather's review. ("This book was fantastic.")

And the second-ever: Rebecca Herman's review.  ("a fascinating historical novel.")

And a third from Lydia on goodreads. ("flipping pages with excitement")

ARC cover

How did these readers get a chance to review Daughter of Xanadu before publication? It started with Holly.  She has a book-review blog called Good Golly Miss Holly Books, and she wrote to me and asked if she could start an ARC tour.  I admit, I had to learn what an ARC tour was.

ARC stands for Advance Reader's Copy; the publisher prints up a limited number of ARCs for each book, before publication, to send out to reviewers.  As the author, I was given only three ARCs of Daughter of Xanadu, and one I had to read and mark up as the final step in the editing process. Several online reviewers contacted me as soon as Random House put up the book description on its website; I was amazed and impressed at how eager and pro-active they were, but I was reluctant to let go of one of my three precious copies.

When Holly contacted me, though, she promised that, if I sent out one ARC, TEN online reviewers would read and review it.  The ARC would travel around the country, around the world, to eager online reviewers. So I sent one of my three copies off on an around-the-world ARC tour, with my hands shaking in the hope that the reviews would be positive!  So far, so good.

If you write online reviews and want to get on an ARC tour, let me know!

- October 5, 2010 -

Elliott Bay Books reading on Jan. 16

In Seattle, theElliott Bay iconre is no more prestigious place for an author to appear than Elliott Bay Books. I've attended many readings there and celebrated newly published books with other authors. I've been the envious one in the audience, listening to the author's voice and wishing - wishing so hard! - that I could be behind that lectern doing that some day.

So you can imagine how thrilled I am to announce: I will be speaking about Daughter of Xanadu at Elliott Bay Books on Sunday, January 16th, at 2 p.m.

I love getting lost among

Khubilai Khan exhibit at the Met

Chabi 2

News: Khubilai Khan takes New York by a storm!

Well, in a way. A new exhibit just opened at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art called "The World of Khubilai Khan: Chinese Art in the Yuan Dynasty." And I thought I was the only one obsessed with the Mongols!

Now hundreds - maybe thousands - of people are visiting the Met to see this special art exhibition and attend a dizzying array of lectures, gallery talks, concerts, symposia, and film showings.

Mulan and Emmajin, alike but different

Several reviewers have noted the similarities between my character, Emmajin, and Mulan, the legendary Chinese heroine who was themulan

subject of a Disney animated film in 1998. Both were young Asian women who defied tradition by joining the army.

Was Emmajin inspired by Mulan?  She might have been.  No one knows if Hua Mulan was real or not, but her story was first

written as a ballad in the 6th century, well before Emmajin’s time, in the 13th century. So Emmajin might have heard of her.

If you liked Disney's charming, fun movie, Mulan, you should definitely enjoy reading Daughter of Xanadu!

But Emmajin is very different from Mulan.

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