Hi friends! I hope you’ll join me in welcoming Eilis Flynn to ALBTALBS!! For once I didn’t include any of her other book covers because I think the focus is as it should be – on Festival of Stars and I hope you’ll find a new book to love. (I’m also super excited to have this little visit back to APAHM.) I love fairy tales and twisted fairy tales! <3
Celebrating a festival of stars in a year of diversity
By Eilis Flynn
Like the fairy tales that kids in Western culture grow up reading and hearing about, the story of the festival of stars is one that kids all over Asia know. The annual meeting of the Weaver Princess and the Cowherder—that’s the version I knew when I was a kid growing up in Japan; you’ll find it under several different names—is a wonderful, tragic, yet hopeful love story, and I always wanted to adapt it to modern, American times. It goes like this: The princess and the cowherder meet one day, and fall in love. But because they neglect their duties in their devotion to each other, the Celestial King rules that they must be separated, with only one chance a year to get together. This is the “romance of the Milky Way,” the Tanabata, as the ancient Japanese poems refer to it, the Festival of Stars.
That kind of love is universal, and it speaks to us all, I figured. Right? So I wrote it.
When this book was originally published in 2007, it was the book of my heart, allowing me to retell the story of what I had always regarded as the ultimate romance, but set in the United States of contemporary times, taken from the Japanese folktales with which I had grown up. But I ran into a road block when I was told, and told again, that the majority of readers wouldn’t be able to relate to it because of its theme of biracialism and bigotry. Editors to whom I submitted it literally told me that Asians didn’t read (which surprised the heck out of me and possibly to the billion literate Asians out there) and thus would have no interest. In any case, when I did sell it, despite decent reviews the book sold poorly, so when I eventually got the rights to it back, I laid the book to rest, assuming it would never see the light of day again. Continue reading