Interview with Ciye Cho, Author of Florence

Ciye Cho is the author of Florence, a YA paranormal romance featuring one of my favorite mythical creatures – Mermaids!  Ciye dropped by the virtual offices to chat about his new book, so read on to see what he has to say.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Ciye Cho] Daydream believer… who may (or may not) have been a merman in a past life.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Florence?

[Ciye Cho] Seventeen-year-old Florence Waverley is lost beneath the waves. Kidnapped and dragged down to Niemela–the hidden world of merfolk–she is the coronation gift for a mer prince named Kiren. But nothing is what it seems in the war between Niemela and the dark ocean–a conflict that will drive her between two brothers… and force her to find out where she belongs.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Ciye Cho] I’ve always loved mermaids and mermen. Who doesn’t? And I thought it would be cool to present a different take on the mythology of merfolk. Instead of playful sirens in conch bras… why not make them multicolored warriors armed with rifles, spears, and the occasional super power? Instead of putting them in a shell castle… why not put them in a city made of coral and jellyfish… stuck in a valley of deep-sea volcanoes? I wanted to take the classic mer theme of belonging and take it to another level by making the Niemelans (the merfolk in "Florence") exceptionally regimented and driven by a sense of order and purpose.

This is where the idea for the characters came from. I liked the idea of having characters who don’t quite fit in with the rest of their world. Like Kiren who rebels against the rules of Niemelan life; or Rolan who follows each commandment to the letter… only to find he can’t truly connect with the world he was born into. And, of course, Florence Waverley who doesn’t have a place in any world–deep-sea or otherwise.

I think a lot of people feel out of sync with the world they live in. Like they’re (fishes) out of water.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

[Ciye Cho] Trying to make all the interactions feel real. The young-adult genre is incredibly sophisticated and YA readers have high expectations of they books read. They might be willing to suspend their disbelief over vampires, elves, and mermaids… but the interactions between the characters have to feel real. I don’t know how well I succeeded, but I spent a great deal of time rewriting the core interactions between Florence and the mer she encounters.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Florence?

[Ciye Cho] Outsider looking inside.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Kiren would never have in his bedroom?

[Ciye Cho] Kiren doesn’t actually have many possessions in his kelp tower. Niemelans are super-obsessed with purpose, work, and order… and therefore material possessions are rare if they don’t serve a purpose. I don’t even know if he could answer this question.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Rolan’s single most prized possession?

[Ciye Cho] Like Kiren, Rolan has little need or want for material goods. Like a true Niemelan, he doesn’t even have a bedroom.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Ciye Cho] I did a lot of research into marine life while writing Florence. One thing I picked up from stuff like nature docos was this idea that life will thrive wherever it must–be it in a warm reef… or in a desolate ocean. Somehow… some way… life will thrive in even the darkest corners of the deep blue. This concept helped me come up with a mindset and worldview for the Niemelans.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Ciye Cho] Quiet. Spare time. Inspiration.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Ciye Cho] "The Chosen" by Ricardo Pinto. I love books that take you to far off worlds, and I have never read anything quite like Pinto’s world of Osrakum. The cruelty and beauty of the Chosen… the intricate rituals of the Wise… all of it was astonishing.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Ciye Cho] It’s hard for me to pinpoint a single book, but some of the first books I read during my childhood were by Roald Dahl.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Ciye Cho] I love to create illustrations of the things I’m daydreaming about. I also enjoy reading YA books and listening to wonky pop. As I type this I’m listening to "Electra Hearts" by Marina and the Diamonds.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Ciye Cho] They can check out my facebook page ( or my twitter page ( I also have a website where they can watch an animated trailer and read the first few chapters of "Florence" (

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Thank you!

Check out the Florence trailer, too!

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