Interview with Jeannie Lin

Today, we’re talking with Jeannie Lin, author of “Butterfly Swords.” Jeannie, thanks so much for taking the time to answer my ten thousand question interview! (For the REST of this interview, go to the Historical Novel Review site!)

I’ve read in a recent interview ( that you became a teacher and a writer because of your mom’s influence.  I’m assuming she also influenced your interest in Asian settings, but why the Tang Dynasty?

J.L:The very first exposure I got to the Tang Dynasty was through a Hong Kong series about Wu Zetian (Empress Wu) and then a sequel about her daughter, Princess Tai Ping. The series portrayed these women both as human and legend. I became fascinated with what it would take to be a woman of power in these times. The more I studied about the period, the more fascinated I became with the art, accomplishments, and social nuances of the time.

What research resources did you find most helpful? Library, Internet, travel, personal contacts?

J.L:All of the above. Though I’ve only traveled to China once and it was long before I realized I’d be writing a book. My dream is to go and take a Silk Road tour some day. I have books and books and books. (see picture) The internet, of course, has been fabulous. In recent years, more has been published about the Tang Dynasty. I’ve also made numerous connections with sword practitioners, travel writers, and other China history enthusiasts like yourself.

About how long did it take to write “Butterfly Swords” from your initial idea through research, writing, polishing, etc?    (And for additional points to help those of us still dreaming, how much time passed between your agent’s representation offer and publication?)
J.L: Butterfly Swords took I’d say about a year to write, including all the polishing and such. It was a finished manuscript after three months, but there were many rounds of revisions after that. Once my agent offered, it was sort of in end game. I had the Golden Heart nomination and editors were reading. My agent offered in April of 2009 and I sold July 2009. 

This is something I like to ask just about every writer I talk to because I find the varied responses fascinating: Every author works in a different way – would you share how you approach writing a novel? The way you set out the plot, your workplace, anything that contributes to the process.           
             J.L: I start out by plot-dreaming. (Hey, that’s the first time I’ve used that word.) Like right now, I’m    
            spinning ideas about two characters in my head. It’s a Romeo and Juliet type story where they  
            actually had to get married.  But their families are still at war with each other. So since they do start
            the care 
for each other, it actually keeps them apart because they know their respective families will
            try to exploit that. So I’m stirring ideas around. I see how they meet, I see some conflicted moments
            they have. I see vague shadows of the other characters.
There’s no plot there yet, but eventually I’ll sit down and do a general outline. Twenty-four chapters, three scenes each. Ha! Writers never say anything that concrete, do they? I’ll write the first three to five chapters without pressure. Then I’ll set aside two weeks and Fast Draft through most of the rest of the book. Then I slow down a bit at the end again. With this process, it takes me about two to three months to complete a manuscript. But then I revise like crazy. Writing is revising for me.   
Obviously you have “Butterfly Swords,” and “The Taming of Mei Lin.” I read in one of your other interviews that you do have other stories in this mileu. Are you working on them now? (Pleasepleaseplease.)
            J.L: The two other manuscripts are actually contracted and finished, except for editorial revisions.              
            There are also two more short stories coming. One is complete and one is in progress. 
If not, what are you planning for your next book?
J.L: Well, there’s that Romeo and Juliet story. There’s also a paranormal series in the works. Fingers crossed.

In addition to your writing, you are an author of several blogs and participate in several writing groups. How do you balance your writing with other pursuits?
             J.L:From my teaching and professional experience, I’ve learned how to schedule things in. I also type
             REALLY fast. After all that, I ask myself, “How much do you want this?”

You’ve been all over the place marketing Butterfly Swords , do you have any fun marketing suggestions that have worked well?
J.L: Fun suggestion…keep it fun for you! Remember that you are writing a book that most likely people similar to you will want to read. So I just dug inside myself – if I was my own super fan, what sort of things would make me excited about this book? For me it was the nostalgia of wuxia, the promise of romance and adventure. And the swords. If you see the launch celebration prizes, they’re all based on the ultimate geekery that went into Butterfly Swords.  

You mentioned in other reviews and a recent newsletter that Butterfly Swords will only be available in stores through the end of this month. After that, we’ll be ordering copies through Amazon. Why is that?
J.L: The reason the book only has one month in bookstores is that it’s part of a category line: Harlequin Historical. These books have multiple releases a month and are only in the bookstores for one month before they’re moved off to make room for the new month. 

That’s one of the reasons I’ve been pushing so hard for this month. Afterward, the book can only be ordered online.

So, if you want a free copy of Jeannie Lin’s book, please leave a comment either here or on the Historical Novel Review site. If you want to enter into Jeannie’s competitions, please got to her site for the launch celebration rules.

Addendum: If you haven’t read Jeannie’s prequel novelette to “Butterfly Swords,” you can buy “The Taming of Mei Lin” wherever e-books are sold: Amazon, Kobo, Harlequin. Stay tuned! The winner of our giveaway will be announced this evening.




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