Released last week, The Magnolia Sword is the first young adult novel to reimagine the ballad of Mulan. We interviewed bestselling author Sherry Thomas on what piqued her interest in writing about Mulan and the different iterations of the beloved woman warrior in pop culture.
What was your approach when researching for The Magnolia Sword? What resources or organizations did you turn to while writing the story?
Sherry Thomas: I consulted everything from reddit threads to academic publications, along with various sources in the Chinese language, including my personal copy of Chinese Idiomatic Expressions Dictionary.
Northern Wei, the time period typically agreed on for the setting of the Ballad of Mulan, is not a major dynasty. So I would get whole books on food, clothing, etc. in ancient China and be able to use only a few pages. (Thank goodness for interlibrary loans!)
Another important source of research is actually Google Earth, which allows me to investigate the actual shape and elevation of the terrain that I would put my character into, and see photos people have taken of the general area. Continue reading