“Dao is a bright voice in middle grade fiction, crafting characters and plot in a way that feels effortless…A fresh title that weaves elements of sports stories and sci-fi with realism and beautifully developed characters, in a way that makes this story irresistible.” ― School Library Journal, starred review

Julie C. Dao is the critically acclaimed author of many books. Her novels have earned starred reviews from Booklist, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly, and won recognition from the Junior Library Guild, YALSA, and the American Library Association. A proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York, she now lives in New England.

Her books for young adults include Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix and Song of the Crimson Flower, which all bring mystical worlds inspired by the Far East to life. Her Team Chu middle grade series are rollicking, action-packed adventures featuring a team of kids ready for any challenge. Her adult novel Now Comes the Mist reveals Dracula’s Lucy Westenra like you’ve never seen her before, in this retelling of the gothic horror classic.

Julie C.'s Featured Titles

Now Comes the Mist: A Tale of Romantic Gothic Horror (Now Comes the Mist, 1)

Podium Publishing |
Fantasy Romance

Dracula’s Lucy Westenra like you’ve never seen her before: In this retelling from critically acclaimed author Julie C. Dao, the perfect woman bites back.

Lucy Westenra is beautiful, rich, loved by three men—every inch a lady. But beneath this sparkling, flirtatious facade, she is fascinated by death, which has stalked her throughout her short life. For her, the dead do not slip away easily, as they do for her best friend, Mina; they linger.

When Lucy departs for Whitby, her nightly sleepwalks introduce her to the mysterious Vlad, who seems to see parts of her she has never let show before. Vlad makes her an offer: Every century, he seeks out the “perfect woman of the age,” who embodies all the values of her society, to live with him in immortality—and Lucy could very well be this woman. For the first time, she feels herself able to share her darker side with someone. Thinking herself dreaming, she agrees to cheat death with him.

When Vlad finally appears in the light, it is aboard a ship covered in corpses. He toys with Lucy and mocks her in Mina’s presence. And one night, he drains a corpse dry right before her eyes. He is a vampire, a monster ready to take her. He expects a good Victorian lady, appalled by his darkness, a victim. But Lucy is only enraptured. When Vlad reacts with violence, Lucy has no choice but to fight for her agency, even if it means giving up her humanity. And her tormentor will soon find she is no easy opponent . . .

The first book of a duology that retells Dracula from the point of view of Lucy Westenra, this gothic romance is perfect for fans of Penny Dreadful and Danielle L. Jensen.

Team Chu and the Wild Ghost Chase (Team Chu, 3)

Farrar, Straus and Giroux |
Middle Grade Fantasy and Adventure

In this Team Chu adventure, Vietnamese-American siblings Clip and Sadie Chu―and friends―must unearth the mystery behind a haunted Halloween carnival.

When Iggy Morales’s stylish cat, Tuba, becomes famous on social media, he scores an invite to a star-studded pet fashion show at Spooky World. The family-friendly, Halloween-themed indoor carnival is the place to be on the last weekend in October, so of course Iggy brings all of his friends, including Clip and Sadie. The kids expect to ride thrilling rollercoasters, play games in the midway, and eat fried dough and candy apples, but they encounter a different kind of excitement instead: a ghost called the Weeping Lady, who has haunted Spooky World for decades, appears and asks for their help.

The Weeping Lady sends Iggy and his friends on a mysterious, action-packed scavenger hunt all over the sprawling theme park, giving them cryptic clues and communicating with Iggy’s seemingly clairvoyant cat, Tuba. If the kids can piece the story together and complete this wild ghost chase, they might just uncover the truth behind what really happened to Spooky World’s most infamous spirit.

Team Chu and the Epic Hero Quest (Team Chu, 2)

Farrar, Straus and Giroux |
Middle Grade Fantasy and Adventure

Check out acclaimed author Julie C. Dao’s debut middle grade series, featuring a team of kids ready for any challenge–even saving the fantasy world of Pantaera from dark forces and certain ruin!

In Team Chu and the Epic Hero Quest, the popular fantasy video game War of Gods and Men is being adapted for reality television. Team Chu and company are competing for the title of child hero: the young person destined to unite the forces of Pantaera to save it from a sinister fate. Over the next week, they’ll be challenged by sirens, vampires, elves, and more in Tests of Courage, Determination, Humility, Intelligence, and Strength.

Popular athlete Clip is confident he’ll take the prize, if it weren’t for that test of humility. And despite claiming not to care about the game, Sadie finds herself pulled into the immersive world of Pantaera and rising to meet the challenges thrown her way. And her best friend, Jeremy, proud nerd and last pick for P.E. teams, wants more than anything to save the world of the game he loves, no matter the cost.

Join Clip, Sadie, Jeremy, and their friends on a thrilling adventure through an extraordinary fantasy world to learn who among them has what it takes to become Pantaera’s child hero!

Team Chu and the Battle of Blackwood Arena (Team Chu, 1)

Farrar, Straus and Giroux |
Middle Grade Fantasy and Adventure

A rollicking, action-packed adventure of laser tag and fierce sibling rivalries, Team Chu and the Battle of Blackwood Arena is the first book in a commercial middle grade fantasy series by Julie C. Dao.

Clip and Sadie Chu couldn’t be more different. Popular, athletic Clip wants to become his school’s first seventh-grade soccer captain, while brainy star student Sadie is determined to prove that she can do anything her boastful brother can.

They have just one thing in common: they love laser tag. Like, really love it.

When the Blackwood Gaming Arena comes to town, bringing virtual reality headsets and state-of-the-art courses, they couldn’t be more excited―or competitive. But then a mysterious figure appears and claims to be a part of the game, forcing the Chus and their friends to save themselves from a sinister force lurking inside the simulation. Together, they must fight their way through epic battlegrounds that will test their speed, skills, and smarts . . . but will Clip and Sadie learn that they’re far better off working together than competing for the ultimate victory?

A 2023 CBC Teacher and Librarians Favorite


How I Come Up With Book Ideas

This presentation focuses on:

– Where book ideas come from (i.e. movies/TV, books you are reading, story prompts, music)
– The inspirations behind each of my books and series
– How to combine different inspirations, interests, and elements to make a retelling feel fresh and original


How To Prepare For NaNoWriMo (Or Writing a Novel Fast)

This presentation focuses on:

– The pros and cons of writing a book (50,000 words) very quickly
– Ways in which NaNoWriMo has helped me as a professional writer
– Should you plot a book or write it by the seat of your pants? (Plotter vs. Pantser)
– How to stay motivated and excited about your story
– Tools to “pack” for 30 days of intense novel writing, including word count spreadsheet, research notebook, etc.


How To Write a Good Villain or Antihero

This presentation focuses on:

– In-depth character study of why villains and antiheroes are the way they are
– Examples of different famous villains with satisfying character arcs, and why they work for us
– The difference between a hero and an antihero
– A debrief on character arcs: ascending (becoming a hero), descending (becoming a villain), and looping (a character who circles back to who they were fundamentally at the start)


How To Write a Good Fairy Tale Retelling

This presentation focuses on:

– Why are fairy tales so fascinating? Why have they lasted so long and continue to be popular?
– What makes a good retelling, and how to make it feel fresh instead of just another rendition
– Choosing the elements that fascinate you most; subverting them or rewriting for a modern audience
– Making a fairy tale retelling feel exciting with a different main character

Untold Legends: The Podcast Link

The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer Podcast Link

88 Cups of Tea Podcast Link

Honors, Awards & Recognition

A Fall 2017 Junior Library Guild Selection
YALSA’s 2019 Best Fiction For Young Adults Nominee
ALA Booklist’s 2018 Top SF Fantasy & Horror For Youth
New York Public Library’s 2017 Best Books For Teens
ALA Booklist’s 2017 Top 10 First Novels For Youth
Audiofile Magazine Earphones Award Winner
2019 Rhode Island Teen Book Award Nominee

A Fall 2018 Junior Library Guild Selection
A Winter 2018–2019 Kids’ Indie Next List Pick
A Fall 2019 Westchester Fiction Award Winner

A Fall 2019 Junior Library Guild Selection
November 2019 Book of the Month Club’s Main Selection
A Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year

An Amazon’s Best Young Adult Book of the Month
A Baker & Taylor YA Bestseller

A School Library Journal Best Book of 2022
A 2023 Children’s Book Council Favorites Award Winner
A 2024-2025 Washington State Sasquatch Award Nominee

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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