Writer Wednesday: Character Interview with Characters from Joan He’s Descendant of the Crane (+INTL Giveaway!)

You all probably know just how much I love this book (this is the third time this week I’ve posted on my blog about it I LOVE IT THAT MUCH), but today, I have something different and still very exciting for y’all:

A character interview with the characters from DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE!!!

Don’t fret about spoilers because there are none here, but you get to meet all the characters that I love. It was so wonderful collaborating with Joan about this–she wrote the character dialogue (bold) and I wrote the framework. (Is this like fanfic with your favorite author? omg)

AND SO YEAH. I won’t keep you waiting to read for long (but stay tuned for a giveaway at the end). So, happy reading!


Vicky is at the Eastern Palace, having snuck past the guards to reach Hesina’s quarters. She watches in the shadows as the newly crowned queen exits her office.

Questions in hand, she prepares to stop Hesina and have her answer her questions, no matter the cost. Hesina’s reign has already begun with a bang–a trial for the murder of the king. Sure, the queen might be able to choke her to death, but Vicky is willing to risk her wrath to find out more.

She darts out of the shadows and plants herself in front of the queen, startling her more than putting her on edge. Must be the deceiving round face that makes Vicky seem unthreatening. She dives right in, assaulting Hesina with a multitude of questions.

VICKY: Hesina, as queen, you have to make a lot of hard decisions–and maybe even commit treason. Where & how do you draw the line? Does this line change? Does it even exist?

HESINA: What are you talking about? A queen leads by example. How can I expect my people to trust me if I’m sneaking behind their backs and committing treason?

I know what you’re thinking—that I’m young and inexperienced and bound to make mistakes. That I’m willful and headstrong and don’t respect the boundaries of the law and court. And…well, maybe some of that is true. But my father raised me by his values, and he is the most upstanding person I know. I don’t intend to disappoint him.

VICKY: One of the more questionable things you’ve done is select a convict as your representative for the murder trial. We have never heard of this “Akira” before. How can we know to trust him?

HESINA: We don’t. But I trust the law, and the law says that justice should be left to the impartial. Who has fewer conflicts of interest than a convict, cut off from society and fresh from his cell?

VICKY: Some people say that you’re a sooth sympathizer. Is this true? How can you justify this given your father’s reign?

HESINA: I don’t see how these personal questions pertain to the realm.

She calls for a page.

HESINA: Please escort this woman out of the palace.

Vicky digests all this new information, committing it to memory to record later. She gives a curt nod to Hesina, understanding that she has been dismissed, albeit very curtly. Vicky is grateful she’s gotten the few responses out of Queen Hesina, even if it was like pulling teeth. The queen will regret having her responses broadcasted over the Internet, although Vicky wasn’t looking out to harm her. Just bring out the truth. And some might say the Internet is the creation of a sooth. What she doesn’t know can’t hurt her.

She scurries away, hasty to get to her next interview and leaving the confused queen behind. This one is scheduled–she’ll be meeting in the Crown Prince’s quarters as arranged beforehand.

The guards open the door for her, and Vicky enters to see Sanjing behind a desk. She thanks him for having her, and dives right in.

VICKY: Sisters can be a real pain sometimes. How would you describe your relationship with Hesina? And how do you wish you both reconciled your differences?

SANJING: Please, don’t be polite. Sisters are fine. Sisters are great. But my sister?

He laughs bitterly.

SANJING: I’ll spare you the story of our tragedy. Our relationship is what it is. Can we mend it? Maybe—if she’s willing to try.

Vicky looks at him skeptically.

SANJING: What? Why the look? Oh, you think I haven’t tried?

Let me tell you a secret: if I had it my way, I would have chased that manservant out of the palace long ago. Sina sees him as a brother; I see a snake. I might not know how to compose poetry, or which tea to pair with mung-bean cake, but I know a killer when I see one. And that man, abysmal musculature aside, is a killer.

I tolerate him for Sina. That’s my compromise. But if it’s going to take kissing his feet to reconcile our differences, then differences be damned. I’d rather have my sister hate me than betray my duty to her as her general.

Sanjing’s response was surprisingly sentimental, although a little brutal, for a brother so seemingly far from Hesina’s heart. It makes Vicky think of love–both familial and romantic.

And speaking of romantic love, maybe Vicky should take a detour before leaving the Eastern Palace.

First stopping to pick up some crystal shrimp dumplings, she makes her way to the dungeons, shadowy and undetected as she channels her inner Mei.

The guards don’t notice her slip into Cell 315 with a pilfered set of keys, but she makes it in and wants to ask Akira a quick question. And a bribe of some crystal dumplings won’t hurt, although one (or two) might have disappeared on the way there.

VICKY: You’ve been charged with multiple counts of theft. How did you get the queen to pick you as her representative, and why do you continue to follow her?

AKIRA: Er…I don’t know, and I don’t know. Gut feeling?

I can tell by your face that you expected a different answer. I suppose when you’ve lived a life like mine, you’ll learn that you are your own best friend.  

I don’t believe in her cause, and I don’t buy her values. I think this is all a very bad idea. Her blind faith will fail her, and when that happens, she’ll want someone at her side. I know I did. How’s that for a reason why?

Vicky didn’t expect that, but she took the response in, thanking Akira for his time–not that he was going anywhere.

And it was time for her to go. She had a blog post to write for the Internet, after all.


Hehehe! Did you like the little touches I added? I had so much fun writing this and AHHH I’m so happy to have brought a little slice of Descendant of the Crane to all of you!

Hesina is prickly like a cactus, but definitely a big softie at heart. Sanjing too. Everyone is a cactus.

So, I really hope you enjoyed reading this and found it a little fun and different! Please let Joan know on her social channels if you enjoyed reading, and don’t forget:

Descendant of the Crane comes out next Tuesday, April 9th!

More About the Book


Descendant of the Crane by Joan He
Hardcover, 416 pages
April 9th 2019 by Albert Whitman Company

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, dreaming of an unremarkable life. But when her beloved father is found dead, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of a surprisingly unstable kingdom. What’s more, Hesina believes that her father was murdered—and that the killer is someone close to her.

Hesina’s court is packed full of dissemblers and deceivers eager to use the king’s death for political gain, each as plausibly guilty as the next. Her advisers would like her to blame the neighboring kingdom of Kendi’a, whose ruler has been mustering for war. Determined to find her father’s actual killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death, since magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of Yan at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository*

*Note that Book Depository currently says unavailable, but we are working to get that link fixed as soon as possible! Please check other potential retailers, including Target and any indie bookstores, for potential alternatives.

More About the Author

Joan He grew up watching Journey to the West, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and many other Chinese epics and legends, from which she draws inspiration for her debut novel. She lives in Pennsylvania.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Preorder Incentive!

Preorder Descendant of the Crane in any format from any retailer, and submit your receipt here to receive all five character cards!

Or, request Descendant of the Crane from your library to receive 4/5 character cards!

(I have my set already, and they are so pretty and high quality and Joan did the art herself and it’s GORGEOUS.)

Find out more info here!


But wait! Guess what?

You can win your own set of all five character cards by entering this giveaway on Twitter & through the Rafflecopter button below!

One lucky winner will receive all five character cards! This is open internationally and closes next Tuesday at midnight EST. Good luck!

Did you enjoy our little script? Have any favorite characters?

22 thoughts on “Writer Wednesday: Character Interview with Characters from Joan He’s Descendant of the Crane (+INTL Giveaway!)

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