My Favorite Bit: Julia & Ken Talk about EBONY GATE

Julia Vee & Ken Babelle are joining us today to talk about their novel, Ebony Gate. Here’s the publisher’s description:

Emiko Soong belongs to one of the eight premier magical families of the world. But Emiko never needed any magic. Because she is the Blade of the Soong Clan. Or was. Until she’s drenched in blood in the middle of a market in China, surrounded by bodies and the scent of blood and human waste as a lethal perfume.

The Butcher of Beijing now lives a quiet life in San Francisco, importing antiques. But when a shinigami, a god of death itself, calls in a family blood debt, Emiko must recover the Ebony Gate that holds back the hungry ghosts of the Yomi underworld. Or forfeit her soul as the anchor.

What’s a retired assassin to do but save the City by the Bay from an army of the dead?

What’s Julia & Ken’s favorite bit?

Julia Vee & Ken Babelle

When we pitched Ebony Gate as a “female Asian John Wick with dragon magic,” a lot of people imagined John mowing down legions of villains with his guns and fists. And while our protagonist Emiko does her share of head smashing and sword swinging, our favorite bit of inspiration that we took from John Wick is the Continental Hotel. In the movie, the hotel is sacred ground to the secret society of assassins, neutral ground where they can conduct their business and be around others just like them.

We knew we wanted an analogue to the Continental in Ebony Gate, and it was natural for us to use a library for that end. Libraries exist in nearly every city and provide the perfect cover. Where else would a secret society descended from dragons conceal their lore? Where better to hide a book, but in a library?

And…we simply love libraries. Giant rooms with row upon row of shelves, stuffed full of books, with gems secreted away in nooks and crannies. Searching through a library is like questing for hidden treasure.

So our Library in Ebony Gate had to be hidden. Not only did we hide the Library inside the San Francisco Library, but we also hid another layer of the Library inside that first hidden library. Twice hidden!

Next, it had to be accessible only to a small group of people. In order to access the Library, one must first be from a small group of Lóng Jiārén, dragon family, those descended from mythic Chinese dragon gods. If someone has even a drop of dragon blood in their veins, they can find the first layer of the Library.

Secrets must be protected, though, not merely hidden. The Library needed a guardian, a powerful person from a clan of historians and archivists, all dedicated to preserving and protecting the lore of their people. The Librarian is nameless, ageless, and all-powerful within the domain of their Library. They wear the mantle of the Library like a suit of armor and wield powerful weapons to defend their sacred territory. A drop of dragon blood allows one to find the Library, but it is the Librarian who determines how far into the Library one can go.

The Library itself is, of course, the stuff of dreams. Multiple levels that stretch too far to see with the naked eye. A central glass elevator that serves both for function and aesthetics. Each floor is bursting with books, scrolls, maps, paintings. It is the combined lore of a thousand years of Lóng Jiārén, all collected in one place. Housed here are more stories and secrets that have been forgotten than can be remembered. All of it hidden in plain sight, only accessible to those who can find just the right corner to look around.

This is our favorite bit, and it’s hidden in San Francisco, the magical Library of our dreams.


Ebony Gate universal book link


Ken Bebelle has been an avid reader of fantasy, science fiction, and comic books his entire life. His love of SF and Star Wars led him to a career in prosthetics, where he spent twenty-five years, specializing in upper limb replacement. Ken writes Asian-inspired urban fantasy and science fiction with his co-author, Julia Vee. They have two current series, Seattle Slayers, and The Phoenix Hoard. Ken and his wife live in the Pacific Northwest, and he would love nothing more than to grow the perfect tomato.

Ken’s socials: website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Julia Vee is the author of the urban fantasy series Seattle Slayers. Julia attended U.C Berkeley and majored in Asian Studies. By day, she is a trial lawyer in Silicon Valley. She often writes with co-author Ken Bebelle. Their novel Ebony Gate, an Asian-inspired urban fantasy, will be published by TOR in July 2023. 

Julia’s socials: website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok

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