10:00 am EST, February 12, 2015

Karen Bao talks ‘Dove Arising’ and nerdy girls

Dove Arising is the exciting, suspenseful debut novel by Karen Bao. She talked with Hypable about setting her story on the moon and smart female characters.


Dove Arising releases on February 24. The novel follows Phaet who lives on the colony on the moon. Phaet hasn’t spoken since her father died nine years earlier. Working in a greenhouse she lets her best friend speak for her and stays beneath the governments radar until her mother is arrested. Left with little choice Phaet joins the militia to protect her siblings. The militia is a faceless army that polices the Lunar bases and protects them from attacks by desperate Earth-dwellers. Training is brutal, but it’s where Phaet forms an uneasy but meaningful alliance with the preternaturally accomplished Wes, a fellow outsider.

Rank high, save her siblings, free her mom: that’s the plan. Until Phaet’s logically ordered world begins to crumble…

Describe your novel in five words.
Quiet moon girl joins army.

What was your inspiration for Dove Arising?
I’ve always been fascinated by the moon; it’s a huge part of Chinese tradition, and physically reaching it represents a major scientific achievement in our society today. To actually have colonies there, in such an inhospitable place, would require tight government control. That lead me to construct a totalitarian state, allegedly for the residents’ safety. My mom’s experiences growing up in Maoist China provided a basis for that.

Phaet, my main character, was inspired by some of my introverted friends. They’re much stronger on the inside than they seem, and they’re full of feeling, though the casual observer might not detect it.

You wrote Dove Arising when you were 17. What has the journey been like like for you as a writer?
The journey’s been like a communal party bus. I have leaned on so many people — friends, family, teachers, publishing folks, booksellers — for book stuff and life advice. I’ve grown up along the way, and it’s been bumpy, but doing it with other people’s help made it something to cherish.

What’s your favorite scene in Dove Arising?
I love the scene in which Phaet and other Militia trainees races spaceships across the Lunar landscape. They see awesome surface features: mountains, balsalt seas, the interior of a volcano. And Phaet’s nerdiness really comes out when she analyzes the scene by using Newtonian physics.

Where is your favorite place to write?
My couch at home with a cup of chai tea. It’s so comfortable that I’m not tempted to get up in the middle of writing a scene. Also, having my family around to discuss ideas is a huge help.

IceyBooks, Fangirlish, and The Broke and the Bookish will be revealing three new videos tomorrow.

‘Dove Arising’ releases on February 24

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