Beginning around 6 p.m., a crowd gathered on the second floor of the Wolf Shop to listen to Novelist Fonda Lee read from her popular Green Bone saga on Thursday, Feb 6.
With an opening statement by David Anthony Durham, a Master of Fine Arts Assistant Professor and a forward by a graduating MFA student, the reading was underway as Lee described the first book in the Green Bone saga, “Jade City.”
With a quieted audience of fans, Lee introduced the main premise of her book and gave background to those new to the series.
Jade City, while resembling The Godfather, is a fantasy novel set in an Asia-inspired metropolis with magic and kung fu. The book contains Asian history, culture and has martial arts while being family orientated. Lee, is an accomplished martial artist herself and started at the age of thirteen. Lee has two black belts in two different disciplines and is a big fan of martial art films.
The book starts out on the Island of Kekon. This island is most known for its properties of jade, a stone that enhances magical abilities. Jade is coveted by all who know its value. It has been mined, stolen and even killed for. The Green Bone warriors, locals to Kekon, have used this jade for centuries to enhance their own magical abilities in defence of their island. Among these Green Bone warriors, there are two clans who inhabit the island: the Mountain clan and the No Peak clan. They do not get along, and are constantly vying for power over Kekon.
One of the main families in Jade City are the Kauls, who strive to defend Kekon at all costs and gain control over Kekons’ capital city. Lee started her reading off in an unspecified chapter that focuses around Anden, an adopted cousin in the No Peak clan and Kaul family. Anden and his friends are enjoying “Boat Day,” a holiday for students. Among the conflicting families and power struggles between the two clans, Anden and his friends must battle in order to survive the coming threat of a new drug, which allows everyone, even foreigners, to wield Kekon’s precious jade. Violence erupts and a clan war begins that will shape the future of all Green Bones and Kekon forever.
After the reading, Lee answered questions from the audience about the chapter and her work overall. Fans commended Lee for her imagery, her fresh ideas and her take on women in a gangster-type society with magical and martial artistry elements.
“I write a lot of dude-ly books about soldiers, gangsters and crime fighters,” said Lee. “There are very few women, and the women in those stories are often…passive or they’re victims.”
Lee continued on with wanting to write females realistically. Lee wanted “Jade City” to have strong female characters, who also have realistic female struggles. They were not overpowered, not better than the men, but they could hold their own. Lee wanted women outside of the book to relate to women inside of the book.
With many other questions posed by the audience about the book and the upcoming series, Lee gave a final piece of advice for aspiring student writers.
“Write the stories that you are most suited to write,” Lee said. “Why are you the perfect person to write this story?”
With all of Lee’s books, she’s been very passionate about the topics, whether it be magic or martial arts. Lee recommends that writers take their own experiences and what they know to tell the perfect story.
The rest of the Green Bone saga, as well as Lee’s other novels can be found here https://www.fondalee.com/.
Emilie Rodriguez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @emilieemeree.