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Thursday, August 18, 2022

Interview with Sunyi Dean (Interviewed by Shazzie)

Official Author Website
Order The Book Eaters over HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of The Book Eaters

Q] Thank you for accepting this interview offer, and welcome! Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself, as well as about THE BOOK EATERS please?

SD: Hiya! Thanks for having me :-) I'm Sunyi Dean, an autistic fantasy author. I was born in Texas, grew up in Hong Kong, and now live in the north of England.  THE BOOK EATERS is a dual tale: on one hand, it depicts on an oppressive society of humanoid beings who eat books for sustenance. On the other, it follows one particular book eater woman in her quest to escape that society for the sake of her son. 

Q] When did you start writing THE BOOK EATERS, and how did the idea form? Was this the idea for the narrative originally, and if not, how did it evolve to what we read today?

SD: My first notes for THE BOOK EATERS dates back to a short story called Paperflesh, back in 2017. The idea for book eating comes from various obscure lores and the natural way we think about books as readers and writers. The mother-son duo interested me a lot as a dynamic, and it all gradually developed from there over time. 

Q] Though the book is a fast-paced read, it is also a commentary on the nature of systemic oppression and the importance of early indoctrination. How did you ensure that it would be entertaining, but would also leave the reader questioning many practices that occur in their own world?

SD: That's a tough question! Story must come first - the job of a book is to be entertaining. I write with an eye for structure, trying to keep the book moving and the story interesting, and allow some of the themes to show up on their own. In edits and revision, that's when I would go back and find places to elaborate a bit more if I can, or if the book needs it.

Q] I loved the choice to have excerpts from well known tales and works of literature at the beginning of every chapter, especially those chosen to have great similarity with the content it contained, to stress on all the ways books and stories aid in the system we live with today. It is clear that a lot of research has gone into this part of the book. How did you go about the process of putting the excerpts together with the story, and are there any you think would fit in very well, but didn't make it into the book?

SD: A lot of poignant moments stick with me when I'm reading, and I like saving quotes in files or on Goodreads. Most of the ones I rejected were either too complex to work as an epigraph or tonally just not quite right. Here are a couple from Wolfe which I love, but which weren't quite right to include anywhere (I think you will see what I mean when you read them):

We think that we know a man or a woman, when so much of what we know is actually that man's or that woman's situation, his or her place on the board of life. Move the pawn to the last row and see her rise in armor, sword in hand.”
― Gene WolfeHome Fires

SD: Thank you so much, that's very sweet! I don't mind discussing it :-) The next book is a historical fantasy set in post-war Hong Kong, featuring water ghosts and an unusual exorcist. It's lighter in tone, with more humor than the book eaters, and much less dark. I hope readers will enjoy the change of pace and still find it entertaining! 

Q] From your presence online, it is clear that you are a member of a writer's community that supports and cheers each other on. Are there any upcoming books you think The Fantasy Book Critic should keep an eye out for?

SD: There are SO many I love! For upcoming diverse epic fantasy, I recommend The Sun and the Void (Gabriela Romero Lacruz), The Surviving Sky (Kritika H Rao), and The First Binding (R.R. Virdi). At the time of writing, these are as-yet unreleased. 

Q] Thank you for taking the time to answer all my questions. Wishing you all the best with this and all your future projects! Do you have any parting words for our readers?

 I hope that your day finds you well, that your books bring you joy, and that you have enjoyed reading this short chat!



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