The Last Fallen Realm, the long-anticipated conclusion to Graci Kim’s Gifted Clans trilogy is on sale now! But before we say goodbye to Riley, Hattie, Emmett, Dahl, and the rest of our favorite young witches, evil goddesses, and adorable mystical creatures, we wanted to catch up with Graci one last time to get the full scoop on where it all began and how it all ends.
First things first: how does it feel to have reached the end of the Gifted Clans trilogy?!
Aaaah, you know that complex taste of dark chocolate, where at first your mouth is filled with a bitter twang, only to be quickly followed by a rich, decadent sweetness? Well, I would say that bittersweet taste is exactly what I’m experiencing having reached the end of the Gifted Clans trilogy. I’m so proud of the journey we’ve taken across the three books, but I’m also so sad to say goodbye to these characters and the world I’ve come to love. In summary, I’m feeling ALL the things!
And now for everyone’s favorite fallen star: Riley Oh! She’s gained some new powers, knowledge, and allies over the course of The Last Fallen Star and The Last Fallen Moon. Can you give us a sense of where Riley’s at, emotionally and mentally, at the start of The Last Fallen Realm?
At the start of The Last Fallen Realm, Riley Oh is pretty much an ostrich with her head in the sand (although Riley’s neck isn’t that long, you’ll be glad to know—it’s hard to keep your head on straight with an ostrich-y neck). Riley knows that she and her soul twin Dahl are the ones prophesized to lead an army against the goddesses, but she feels like anything but a leader. After all, she’s only thirteen years old! In fact, Riley is suffering from a huge case of imposter syndrome, and she has no idea how she’s supposed to save the literal world . . .
Can you give us a sneak peek of all the new places Riley and her friends will visit during The Last Fallen Realm?
What better city than Las Vegas to set the backdrop of an epic battle between Riley Oh against the vengeful goddesses from Korean mythology? Of the places that Riley and her friends will get to visit during the book, here are a few teasers: M&M World (need I say more?), Panda Express (if you haven’t tried orange chicken, I don’t know if we can still be friends), a stranger-than-life wedding officiated by an Elvis impersonator (I mean, come on—it’s Vegas), and even a mini golf tournament (did you know Riley is also known in some parts as “Hole-In-One-Riley”?).
It’s no secret that Riley Oh and her sister, Hattie, are closer-than-close. Was that sister relationship inspired by anything in your real life?
Gosh, this question itself is making me teary. I will openly confess my undying love to my two younger sisters right here and now, and so help me Mago. Ally and Joyce, aka Smelly Lucky Ear and Jojo La Joya, are my two sisters who definitely were the inspirations behind the ride-or-die relationship between Riley and Hattie. Sisterhood is complex and beautiful, and I would not be who I am today if not for my two besties. <3 <3
And speaking of your inspiration, can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to write Riley’s story in the first place?
First and foremost, I wanted to write a fun story inspired by Korean mythology, about a girl who wants magic more than anything (because who doesn’t want magic?!). But if I dig deeper than that, I was inspired to write Riley’s story also because I wanted to create a mirror—one where kids like me who didn’t see themselves reflected in books could witness their likeness mirrored back in the pages. Because we all deserve to be heroes!
At the same time, I also wanted to write a window—so anyone from any walk of life could pick up these books and go on an adventure with Riley, experiencing life in someone else’s shoes. Because it’s when we do this, that we discover what unites us is much greater than that which separates us.
As an author, what has been your favorite part of your journey with this trilogy and with Riley? Were there particular moments or things that happened that surprised you since the publication of The Last Fallen Star?
My favourite part, hands down, has been hearing from readers directly. Every time I get a message from a reader, my tank gets filled with a gallon of motivation—or to use a more environmentally modern analogy, my EV gets charged to the brim! Readers, please keep them coming—I love to hear from you!
As for a particular moment that surprised me since the publication of The Last Fallen Star, I will say I was utterly astonished when a reader (of legal age, just to clarify!) got a real-life tattoo of the gifted mark on their wrist—and in their two clan colors, at that. Wow, what an honor!
Along with that question, was there any part of the trilogy that surprised you as you were writing? Maybe a plotline or character that completely changed or did something totally unexpected?
I’m a keen plotter, so usually I’m pretty aware of the things that are going to happen on the page before I even write them. For example, I knew the overall structure of the three books even before writing the first one, and I usually know what the cast will be doing at any point in time.
But one character, a certain mayor of the netherworld, KEPT surprised me with his actions and reactions on the page. “You want to WHAT now?!” I asked him many a time. Reader, you’ll just have to read the final book to know what I’m talking about.
What do you most hope young readers will feel as they read The Last Fallen Realm and finish Riley’s story?
I hope readers will be satisfied when they finish Riley’s story, and ideally not too mad at me! I also hope that readers will close the final pages, being reminded of the magic that is all around us—in every nook and cranny of this weird and wonderful world, and most especially within ourselves. It is my greatest wish that readers will come away believing that we, like Riley, were all born to shine.
And now for a fun one! If you could choose any mystical creature from across The Gifted Clans trilogy as a pet, which one would it be?!
Can’t I have them ALL?! Fiiine, if you’re forcing me to choose one, I’ll choose three: Charles the Cheollima (them teeny weeny wings, though), Taggy (IYKYK), and a baby bulgae (although, I might need to invest in some fireproof clothing . . .)
And finally—the most important questions that all your readers are clamoring to know! Where would you rather vacation: the Spiritrealm or the Godrealm?!
You’ll find me in the Spiritrealm for sure! More specifically in the magical food forest that a certain mayor keeps well-stocked Come join me, folks. I hear the snacks there are to die for!
A million thank you’s to Graci Kim for taking the time to chat and sharing her insight on all things Gifted Clans!
Still need to experience the full story for yourself? Pick up your copy of The Last Fallen Realm right here.