Today I've got an author interview for you with Catherine Aerie who wrote a book called "The Dance of the Spirits". Immediately below is all of the info about her book, and then below that is our Q&A. She gave very thoughtful and thorough answers and I hope you enjoy it!
Amazon blurb: Award Winning Novel "...fleeting but intense...An often engaging tale of a flickering moment of love during a forgotten war." --Kirkus Reviews Spring 1951: it is the fiery zenith of the Korean War, a war that the youthful US Army lieutenant Wesley Palm and his men thought that they had won… until the Chinese swept across the Yalu River. Traveling with the million-man army bent on driving back the march of “American imperialism” is Jasmine Young, a Chinese surgeon who has volunteered herself into the war for unspoken, grave reasons. Through a chronicle of merciless battles, freezing winters, and the brutality and hypocrisy of human nature, the two will find themselves weaving through the twists and turns of fate and destiny. Though their love is forbidden, their passion and pursuit of liberty cannot be quenched.
Praise for The Dance of the Spirits
“…On the surface, The Dance of the Spirits is a story of love and of war, but on a deeper level, it is a story of the misery that the communist ideology brought to millions of souls in the twentieth century. Whether that philosophy is related to nationalism, internationalism or faith, Catherine Aerie reminds readers that when a system that will entertain no contradiction in thought or deed comes to power, no one is safe — and no one is free. Aerie draws a vivid picture of war and its price, and a tender image of love…” – Readers’ Favorite (5 Stars)
“…a love that is stronger than all the horrors that war can throw at them… compelling…poignant… sensitive and beautiful…” – San Francisco Book Reviews (4.5/ Stars)
“Adversaries in the Korean War find love in Aerie’s debut novel. The story starts in the middle of a firefight… Out of the rubble, two characters emerge: an American officer… and a Chinese military doctor… Their paths cross again and again… In the intimacy of the war, these coincidences don’t feel forced, nor even particularly fated–it’s just the way things went… Readers will likely find Palm a decent, very human person, but Young has more complexity and vibrancy… As the war rages around them, Palm and Young fall in love… but their romance is ill-starred and open to tragedy. Aerie keeps readers on their toes with the twists…fleeting but intense…An often engaging tale of a flickering moment of love during a forgotten war.” – Kirkus Reviews
Did I mention there's a giveaway? Enter here!
Why do you think the Korean War gets so little attention in the public, whereas there's so much attention given to less recent conflicts?
I believe that it had something to do with the Vietnam War growing up long and tall, swallowing the much shorter Korean War before it into its shadow. The latter could have wound up being what we as Americans now perceive the former to be had it only lasted longer; an exhausting conflict marked by a once clear goal marred by confusing politics, a continuously denied total victory, frustration from being unable to achieve it in the first place, and the simple fact that so many lives and resources were spent in a war of attrition that yielded nothing less than a bitter stalemate (or in the case of Vietnam, an anti-climatic loss) after years of fighting. That being said, the fallout from the U.S’ tiresome decade long venture in Indochina simply outgrew and overshadowed that of Korea, and the resulting aftershock upon popular culture and media perception basically reflected that matter into the public. To quote Max Hastings’ history of The Korean War: “Rather than acknowledging that too little attention has been lavished upon the victims of Korea, it may be more just to suggest that too much has been heaped upon the veterans of Vietnam. (pg. 331)”
You came up with the idea for this book while researching your family history. Did you find any other material for follow up books during your research?
Yes: along the way while researching for the novel, I came upon the subject of the lives of token Western communities residing in China in the times before the communist takeover.
How did you pick the name Wesley? (I'm always curious when such a rare -and awesome!- name pops up places!)
The name “Wesley” has a special meaning when pronounced into Mandarin Chinese: wei - a guardian, si - a poem, and li - wisdom. I thought it’d fit his character to give him a meaningful name.
(Wesley note: Well well well. I like that!)
You have a degree in finance. Is it hard to balance your creative/writing part of your brain with the finance/analytical part of your brain?
It’s actually not difficult at all once you find a way to make the most of the two at the same time; I suppose that the abilities associated with the latter must have done something beneficial while I was organizing the plot structure and progression of the former. It’s nothing of a unique ability and I’m very well sure that everyone can do so too.
What surprised you most when you were writing this book?
I was genuinely moved by the whole United Nations’ effort to enforce the voluntary repatriation program regarding the (especially communist) prisoners of war during the Korean War; by itself, this was a major and bold change especially when compared to the Allied powers handling of surrendering Axis prisoners at the close of World War II, where thousands of Axis prisoners who originally surrendered to the Western Allies were then deported back to the Soviet Union on the reasoning that they had fought against the latter for the duration of their careers. The personal wills of many of these prisoners to avoid a miserable fate in the gulags were thus ignored in the process, and the last of them were only freed up to the late 1950’s, leaving few survivors to share their stories by then.
In sharp contrast to these events only a single decade later, the West allowed its communist prisoners to choose whether to return home, where they would likely be punished for surrendering in the first place, or immigrate to another foreign country instead; in the end, the vast majority opted for the latter option.