Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Interview with Jeannie Lin, Golden Heart Finalist

Today is a special day. I'm interviewing Jeannie Lin, a fellow Romance Diva and Golden Heart Finalist! Since we both write historical romance, I thought it would be fun to explore that theme and talk about what makes Jeannie's stories so unique.

One thing I can tell you that sets Jeannie Lin's romances apart is her use of setting. Her current manuscript, Butterfly Swords, is set in ancient China. Click on the title to get a sneak peek at the book.

Now, on to the juicy bits...

What inspired you to write historical romance?
JL: I like to be swept away and lose myself when I read and I found myself loving historical romances for their larger than life characters. I love how historical is almost fantasy. There's a genre of historical romantic fantasy in Asian literature called "wuxia" that I grew up on and that's really the main source of inspiration for my historicals.

What time periods are your favorite to read about or write about?
JL: I have a particular love for medieval time periods, regardless of the setting. I like to imagine a time of both honor and chivalry as well as ruthlessness all mixed in together. It makes for a good sense of drama. I have a particular liking for Asian settings but I love to read stories set in Europe and fantasy medieval settings as well.

How did you get the idea for Butterfly Swords?
JL: Butterfly Swords was my second finished manuscript. Ryam was the ne'er do well sidekick in the first one. He was the comic relief, the best friend who was always screwing up in a big way. Before I finished the first book, I had decided to write him as a hero and give him his chance for redemption. I became fixated with the idea of a likable vagabond who jumps into a single act of heroism out of impulse and it changes his life. I brainstormed to find the perfect woman for him and had several prototypes try out for the part, but finally I decided she had to be from the warrior class, be completely serious and believe in him more than he believes in himself. In order to make a soft, woman warrior believable I drew from my tiny bit of martial arts training and based her training on Wing Chun Kung Fu, which really is an ideal style for women. In Wing Chun, butterfly swords are used as extensions of your arms and it's quite an exciting visual when you see demonstrations.

What do you think makes a good historical hero? What makes a good historical heroine?
JL: Historical heroes have more freedom. They don't know a thing about being metrosexual so there's that rough edge on them that's so sexy. Throw in honor, the element of danger and that dark, brooding streak and it's a great fantasy. I like historical heroines who have a fiery streak, but also that softer side. I don't believe that women in the past were always meeker or necessarily more repressed, but they had to be smart with their strength and manifest it in different ways than men did. Yin and Yang and balance, you know? I have a whole write up to do about feminism in Tang dynasty China, but that's for another day. :)

How does it feel to get a Golden Heart nomination for your book?

Do you have any other historical projects in the work? Are they in the same setting or a different one?
JL: I'm revising the follow up novel which is also set in the Tang Dynasty. It features a former concubine and a warlord and explores the shadowy underworld of imperial China. I also have a contemporary paranormal that takes a small time slip into Storyville in the early 1900s, the New Orleans red light district.

Any advice you wish to share with other writers or is there anything else in general you'd like to share with us?
JL: Assume every rejection means your writing isn't good enough yet and keep on working at it.. That's the only thing you can worry about.

You can learn more about Jeannie Lin and her awesome book, Butterfly Swords, by going to:


Jeannie Lin said...

Hee first interview. Is it gauche to comment on blogs where you're featured? I don't know anything about it.

Thanks for giving me a shout out Vivienne!

Jennifer Haymore said...

What a great interview! Jeannie, I can't wait to read your book in print--the hero and heroine sound fascinating! I love books set in non-traditional periods and locations, so this is right up my alley. And congrats on the GH nod! That's wonderful!

Eden Bradley said...

Great interview! Your books always sound so amazing and unique-I bet your research was fascinating!
I'll be cheering hard for you at the Rita & GH awards!

Vivienne Westlake said...

Eden is right. I should've asked Jeannie about the research aspect of the books. The description is very rich and detailed, so I'm sure you did a lot of background work in writing this book.

Jen, I'm excited also and hope the book will get picked up and published soon.

Jeannie Lin said...

Hi Eden & Jen!

The research was very fascinating! The Tang dynasty was a time of great sensuality, when women enjoyed an uncommon amount of freedom. For that time period, it was also quite advanced since Europe was going through their Dark Ages at the same time China was going through their Golden Age. And because paper was so widely used, there's a lot of existing records.

Of course, I had to hold back and not info dump too much in the story. :)

Carly Carson said...

The piece of the story I read is great. The China aspect should be fascinating as well.

Carly Carson

Katie Reus said...

Jeannie! I can't wait until Butterfly Swords comes out in print (but you already knew that)!!

Ella Drake said...

Great interview! First, I love the title, Butterfly Swords. Awesome! And, of course, I loved the book, too. (Was lucky enough to read it!)

Much, much good luck with the GH. I'll be rooting for you.

Vivienne Westlake said...

Ella, as I was writing this blog, comments, and posting info about the blog elsewhere, I kept having to catch myself because I subconsciously wanted to write that Jeannie won the Golden Heart. :)

Jeannie Lin said...

Thanks for the wonderful comments Carly, Ella, Katie. It's my hope right now that someone out in the publishing world believes there's a market for this. It's an uphill climb, but I'm enjoying the journey.

And Viv -- Are you prone to having psychic premonitions? Please tell me yes!

Vivienne Westlake said...

Actually, I am (but that's another story). Don't know if the GH thing is premonition or just my assumption, but I'm sending you good vibes towards your win!!!

Laurie said...

Wonderful interview, Jeannie Lin. I hope to be at RWA when the winners are announced so I'll keep my fingers crossed for you in the historical category. (I'm already on the bandwagon for Sharon Lynn Fisher in Paranormal category.)

I'm not much of an historical reader but this one sounds fascinating and will have to go on my "watch for it" list. Best wishes.

Vivienne Westlake said...

For those of you who haven't heard yet, Jeannie DID win the Golden Heart for Historical Romance! Congratulations to her! She has also signed on with Harlequin Mills & Boon, so I can't wait to see Butterfly Swords come out in print in a year or two. Awesome!

Jeannie Lin said...

Well, Vivienne, here's to psychic premonitions!

It's meant so much to me to have the continued encouragement and support of good friends the entire way. Thanks!