Welcome to Kicking Back with Kick-butt!
Today we’re chatting with Graci Kim, the author of
THE LAST FALLEN STAR
Riley Oh can’t wait to see her sister get initiated into the Gom clan, a powerful lineage of Korean healing witches their family has belonged to for generations. Her sister, Hattie, will earn her Gi bracelet and finally be able to cast spells without adult supervision. Although Riley is desperate to follow in her sister’s footsteps when she herself turns thirteen, she’s a saram–a person without magic. Riley was adopted, and despite having memorized every healing spell she’s ever heard, she often feels like the odd one out in her family and the gifted community.
Then Hattie gets an idea: what if the two of them could cast a spell that would allow Riley to share Hattie’s magic? Their sleuthing reveals a promising incantation in the family’s old spell book, and the sisters decide to perform it at Hattie’s initiation ceremony. If it works, no one will ever treat Riley as an outsider again. It’s a perfect plan!
Until it isn’t. When the sisters attempt to violate the laws of the Godrealm, Hattie’s life ends up hanging in the balance, and to save her Riley has to fulfill an impossible task: find the last fallen star. But what even is the star, and how can she find it?
As Riley embarks on her search, she finds herself meeting fantastic creatures and collaborating with her worst enemies. And when she uncovers secrets that challenge everything she has been taught to believe, Riley must decide what it means to be a witch, what it means to be family, and what it really means to belong.
Let’s talk to this superb author about her incredible book!
This is Graci. Everyone say, “Hi, Graci!”
Welcome to Kick-Butt Kidlit, Graci! Why don’t we start with some introductions – tell us about yourself!
Hi Casey! I’m Graci Kim, the author of THE LAST FALLEN STAR. I’m a Korean-Kiwi author based in Auckland, and I write magic-infused books for magic-infused readers.
What was the inspiration behind THE LAST FALLEN STAR?
There were several things that inspired THE LAST FALLEN STAR, one of which was my love for my two younger sisters. The three of us are wildly different but we are best friends. My relationship with them inspired Riley and Hattie’s unbreakable sisterhood in the book. The folktales and myths that my parents and halmeoni (grandma) told us when we were little also inspired the book. In fact, one of the origin myths about the Korean peoples—about a bear and a tiger who wished to become human—became the foundation for THE LAST FALLEN STAR. Lastly, my experience growing up as an Asian diaspora kid in a Western country, and often feeling stuck between my two identities inspired Riley’s journey of self-discovery in the book.
What were you doing when you found out there was an offer on your book?
I had just gotten my bloods taken (and already feeling a little faint…) and I was literally lying on a clinic bed getting a 12 week scan on my pregnant belly when the message came through. Talk about an emotional moment!!
Oh, wow! Definitely!
What were three interesting things you discovered while working on THE LAST FALLEN STAR?
Three of the realisations I had while working on THE LAST FALLEN STAR:
(1) Wow, work doesn’t feel like work when you’re doing something you love. How did I just sit here for 12 hours straight, just writing? I think this is what I was born to do…
(2) Is this a dream? Someone please pinch me. Argh wait, no! If this is a dream, don’t let anyone wake me up! Let this be for real!
(3) Um, how is Rick Riordan human?
If you could transport your characters across book dimensions, which book would you most like them to end up in and why?
I have this unusually vivid image of all the characters in the Rick Riordan Presents series getting together and taking a summer camp trip to the Percy Jackson universe. It would be utter chaos. Can you imagine the drama? The monsters? The quests? Riley and the crew would LOVE it. Yes, if only…
That would be AMAZING!!! Where do we sign the petition to make this happen? Such a good idea! 😀
Why were you drawn to writing middle grade?
I actually fell into writing middle grade, and have counted my lucky stars for it since! The Last Fallen Star started off as a YA book, and Riley was an almost sixteen-year-old girl. Then when my agent took the manuscript out on submission, one editor gave us a Revise & Resubmit request, asking if I’d be willing to age it down to a middle grade. I gave it some thought, and realised it was the best thing I could do for Riley and her story. The rest is history. 🙂
Any hints about your next book project?
There are, of course, the sequels to The Last Fallen Star that are currently in the works. But my very next book project may in fact be in a completely different age category….
Oooh, exciting! Can’t wait until you can share more!
What has been the most surprising part of your publishing journey?
Just how many incredible people it takes to publish a book. You see a book and you see the one name on the cover, usually. But it takes many teams of people working tirelessly behind the scenes to make a book come to life. I am so much more appreciative of this now than I ever was before, and I’m so grateful for my team over at Disney Hyperion for all the incredible support they have given me.
What are you reading right now?
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong. Just started. Eeek, I think I’m going to be a wreck.
What’s your favourite piece of kick-butt advice?
Never forget that you, too, have a voice. You, too, deserve to be heard. If you have a story to tell, don’t let anyone tell you what you can and cannot share. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. Don’t forget to dream big! The future is ours. 🙂
Absolutely! Love that!
Thank you so much for joining us, Graci!
Kick-butt Kidlit friends, make sure you check out THE LAST FALLEN STAR! It’s on shelves now!
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Contest ends Friday, May 7th at 11:59 pm EST
Thanks for reading!