About Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Lauren Nicolle Taylor is the bestselling author of The Woodlands series and the award-winning YA novel Nora & Kettle (Gold medal Winner for Multicultural fiction, Independent Publishers Book Awards 2017), which is the first book in the acclaimed Paper Stars series.
She has a Health Science degree and an honors degree in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
A full time writer and artist, Lauren recently moved from Australia to Canada with her husband and three children for a new adventure.
She is a proud hapa and draws on her multicultural background in all of her novels.
The inspiration for The Girl With The Hickory Heart came from giving myself permission to write ‘me’. This may sound strange but when you’re a mixed Asian of several different ethnicities (Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, Malaysian, Australian), the idea of writing a story drawing on all those different cultures seemed kind of scary. I was raised with all those different influences. I ate a fusion of Asian foods. I was exposed to a mix of culture, dress and language. In Malaysia it’s pretty normal to know, be from, and experience several ethnicities. In Australia, it was better to fit into one box. So, I would often just say I’m Malaysian-Australian. But the box always felt a little tight, a little lopsided and creased.
I have always written mixed characters as it’s a huge part of who I am, but I’d never tried to write my exact mix as I felt nervous about trying to pack that much into one person. Which is silly really when I am that person. But the ‘own voices’ movement opened up the possibility that there was a place for this mixed author.
Fantasy was a genre I hadn’t tackled before, but it was perfect. I could smash food, dress and architecture from Indonesia, Chinese Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand together and create a whole new world that reflected what I was on the inside. So, the rich and incredibly diverse world of the Char and Shen was born.
The cover perfectly encapsulates the main character Luna, who is fiercely determined (just look at that expression!) and will stop at nothing to protect her family. It bridges different cultures with Indonesian batik patterns on a more Chinese style robe. Her hair and eyes are also in line with mixed characteristics, and I love that she even has a sprinkling of freckles across her nose. The background is part Thai fishing village part Hong Kong islands with ‘murder birds’, creatures you can read about in the book, flying over the cliffs. The artist (Le Vuong) did an incredible job of weaving so many aspects of the story into one cohesive piece and I’m so excited to finally share it with the world!
Cover art by Le Vuong
Title The Girl With The Hickory Heart
Author Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Publication Date August 24th 2021 by Owl Hollow Press
Find It On Owl Hollow Press ● Goodreads ● Amazon
Luna, the girl with the hickory heart, can’t feel.
Lye, the girl with all the power, can’t forget.
Together, two teens from warring tribes hold the fate of their torn worlds. One is destined to destroy. The other is desperate for deliverance.
For Luna, the price of peace in a time of war is a heart of hickory. But to have a hickory heart leaves no room for love. When the lives of her three brothers are tied to refugee siblings from the warring tribe, Luna must test the limits of her wooden heart to trust those she’s been taught to hate.
Seventeen-year-old Lye is the Shen keeper. There’s only one. Ripped from her village as a child to perform the sacred task of awakening elements in every Shen soldier, she’s become an unwilling instrument of violence and death. And it’s starting to dismantle her conscience.
In an island nation akin to a wooden Hong Kong, two Asian girls from warring tribes must put aside their pasts in order to move forward.