Back in August, three of my favorite bloggers ever – Nandini @ Novels and Novelas, Vee @ Vanshika’s Books, and Krisha @ Bookathon Blog – created one of the most amazing book tags ever: The Poppy War book tag! (Click the links to check out their posts.)
Since I got tagged to do this, I thought – what better way to answer The Poppy War book tag then with the author of The Poppy War herself? And best of all, at the end of the tag, I asked Rebecca a few questions about her plans after finishing off this amazing trilogy!
I had such a fun time doing this tag with the amazing R.F. Kuang, and I hope you enjoy our answers! (RFK is Rebecca, and KLMH is me! 😉)
Let’s get started on the tag!
Fang Runin – Who’s your favorite anti-heroine?
RFK: This isn’t an SFF novel, but I really enjoyed Ottessa Moshfegh’s books Eileen and My Year of Rest and Relaxation. Both protagonists are extremely unlikable in different ways, and deliberately so, yet Moshfegh makes you deeply invested in both of their lives. That’s such an achievement on the level of craft.
KLMH: Tea Pahlavi from The Bone Witch trilogy by Rin Chupeco! The first book makes you think that it’s going to be some kind of villain origin story, but as the trilogy goes on you realize that Tea’s motivations are actually pretty understandable – even if her methods are questionable at best – and then you actually begin rooting for her.
Chosen One Schmosen One – Which character deserves more in your favourite series?
RFK: Okay, not my favorite series because that would be narcissistic, but I want to quickly shoutout a character in my own series that I wish I could have devoted a lot more scenes to. I didn’t know Venka would become so important to me or interesting to write when I finished The Poppy War; it was only while drafting The Dragon Republic that I realized she ought to have far more lines than she did. I try to keep the pacing pretty streamlined, so I had to cut a lot of scenes not strictly related to the main plotline, but if I could have meandered a bit I would have given Venka much more screen time.
KLMH: Funnily enough, this is my answer too (and I have no qualms about calling this series one of my favorites, lol)! Venka caught my attention pretty early on in The Poppy War and I stayed invested in her story arc all throughout. I absolutely fell in love with her in The Dragon Republic and for a short while toward the end of The Burning God, I really thought everything would be okay. (But then…yeah…)
No Stone Left Unturned – Who’s your favorite fictional genius?
RFK: Annabeth Chase! She’s so unabashedly nerdy and cocky about her smarts. As a child, I always preferred her to Hermione because it was more evident that she adored the subjects she studied out of pure curiosity, rather than an obsession over grades.
KLMH: I’ve been on a YA sci-fi kick lately, so my current faves are Octavia English from A Conspiracy of Stars and An Anatomy of Beasts by Olivia A. Cole, Althea Sadik from Contagion, and Cassandra Gupta from Dare Mighty Things. Something about teenaged girls succeeding in STEM fields and being the protagonists of hard sci-fi novels really speaks to me!
The Epic Descent – What makes you empathize with your favourite morally grey character?
RFK: I promise I’ll stop talking about Percy Jackson soon. But my favorite morally gray character since childhood has been Luke Castellan – he was so tragic, sympathetic, and admittedly, hot. What made him so sympathetic was that his motives felt so real and relatable. He wasn’t acting out of cruelty or evil; he was acting out of hurt and rejection by his godly parent.
KLMH: Listen, any time is a good time to talk about Percy Jackson! And I totally agree with what you said about motives being real and relatable. One of my favorite morally grey characters is Evelyn Hugo from The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. She did the most awful things that hurt the people that she loved, but also, you can still understand where she was coming from.
Mad Gods and their Maddening Power – What’s your favourite novel about gods and their powers?
RFK: I bet you thought I was going to say Percy Jackson! But I love The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin. She’s better known for her Broken Earth trilogy, but The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was the first Jemisin novel I ever read that got me totally hooked on her writing.
KLMH: I ACTUALLY DID THINK YOU WERE GOING TO SAY PERCY JACKSON 💀 And thank you for reminding me to read more N.K. Jemisin books! My fave would have to be Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. It’s that very specific trope of insta-love that involves an ancient immortal entity falling in love with the woman who sets him free from his prison. And it’s all about the yearning. *chef’s kiss*
Immortals and their Battles – What’s your favourite battle scene?
RFK: Any of the fight scenes in the Jade City trilogy! There was a scene near the end of Jade War that had my heart pounding in my throat, I was so nervous.
KLMH: Hard. Fucking. Same.
This Poisonous Beauty – Which character do you find as intriguing as you do terrifying?
RFK: Ayt Mada can step on my neck.
KLMH: Darayavahoush e-Afshin can break my back.
Clever Truths and Cleverer Lies – What’s a book rife with political intrigue that you enjoyed?
RFK: The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison is excellent. It’s full of secret plots, hidden enemies, and warring factions, but – rare for adult fantasy, I think – the main character wins by remaining fundamentally kind and good. It does for political fantasy what Knives Out does for mystery films.
KLMH: The Daevabad trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty is chock full of political and courtly intrigue, allegiances and alliances, coups and betrayals, murder, mystery, and heartbreaking romance!
Some quick questions!
Are you ever going to write anything in The Poppy War universe ever again?
I don’t have plans to at this stage. I’m really excited to move on to new worlds and stories. I’ve been tied down to this trilogy over the past five years, and right now I just really can’t wait to see what I can do next. Maybe someday I’ll come back and do a prequel novel (or maybe even post- TBG sequels?) but that won’t be for a few years at least.
(In the distance, fans of The Poppy War who still haven’t recovered from the pain of the last book in the trilogy breathe a loud, collective sigh of relief.)
Are you planning on delving into other age ranges, like YA or MG?
I don’t think so at this point. I write what I enjoy reading, and I haven’t been able to get into any YA or MG books for a couple of years now. Maybe that’ll change in the future, but right now all the projects I want to do are aimed at adults.
And lastly, what’s the most important advice you can think of for aspiring authors starting out on their first draft?
Don’t ever feel like you’re not qualified enough to sit down and start writing! You may not have the skills yet to tell the story you want, but you’ll learn those along the way. Read books on craft as you write. Read other authors you admire and take notes on how they approach plot, structure, character, dialogue, etc. Teach yourself as you go. You’ll never pick up that knowledge if you don’t sit down and get started, though.
Don’t forget to pre-order The Burning God!
The stunning end to this critically-acclaimed trilogy wraps up the entire story in a heartbreaking, breathtaking, incredibly painful conclusion. I read my e-ARC in one sitting and deeply regret it because…that sort of pain was not meant to be taken all at once.
I’d also like to end this post with a heartfelt thank you to R.F. Kuang for writing this book. As I said to her during our Zoom chat, The Poppy War is one of the first ever NetGalley e-ARCs I got approved for, and my subsequent review led to my blog stats spiking and me deciding to take this whole thing more seriously. I probably would not be where I am now as a blogger, booktuber, and bookstagrammer if not for The Poppy War, and I am beyond ecstatic to see so many people share my love for this incredible trilogy!
What did you think? Let’s chat!
☕ What did you think of me and Rebecca’s answers?
☕ Have you read any of the books we mentioned?
☕ Have you read The Burning God? What did you think?