Today I’m welcoming author Jeannie Lin, please join me as we talk with her.
MBA: What kind of planning and research goes into your writing of a novel?
Like most historical romance authors, I’m an absolute research junkie. It took about four years from starting the Tang Dynasty romances to getting a sale and I researched throughout the whole process. I get inspired by research, so I do a little up front to help shape my plot and characters. Then I do more after finishing the first draft which I layer in. And then there are the little details that you hit while writing, like location scouting, which will send me on a research loop for hours. I have books on history and horses and ancient weapons. I frequent all sorts of history forums, Google Earth, travel sites…*sigh*
The most fascinating thing is connecting with people online with special skills and areas of expertise. I’ve corresponded with photojournalists living in China, martial artists from Australia, an artist in Taiwan. It’s all possible because of the interwebs—the world is a more connected place. I don’t think it would have been possible for me to write these books ten years ago.
I just finished revisions on the sequel to Butterfly Swords and there’s a prequel that’s already completed. (I wrote them all before signing the first contract.) I finished a historical paranormal series proposal that I’m crossing my fingers on. I’m also researching the pleasure district and student culture of the capital city for a new story idea.
MBA: What is something that people wouldn’t know about you as an author/writer or a person in general?
History was my worst subject in high school. I was a math and science girl and I have a degree in Cognitive Science and a Master’s in Education. I taught high school science and technology for five years. My approach to writing is, shall we say, very nerdy! I read craft books and follow writing discussions and spend a lot of time assimilating and cataloging information.
MBA: Do you feel a deep connection to your characters and why?
I feel my characters very deeply. Before they even hit the page, I’ve daydreamed about them so much. I’ve run them through scenario after scenario, seen how they act in all sorts of situations, many of which will never see the light of day. It’s impossible not to put pieces of myself and the people who are important to me into my characters. Parts of my mother, my grandmother, my husband—their spirits are all in there in bits and pieces. Not because I’ve modeled these characters after real people, but the people close to me are the examples of human nature I have the most exposure to.
MBA: How do you handle the negative reviews if you receive any?
I haven’t had any harsh ones yet. It’s probably too soon to tell as the short story just released and the novel isn’t out until October. Advance reviews have been very positive, which is a joy and a relief!
I’ve received a lot of tough feedback over the years from contests and critique partners. And rejections, let’s not forget the rejections! One of the good things about taking a while to sell your first book is you realize how much work this process takes. It’s humbling how many missteps you take when writing a book. Is it believable that some of those flaws are still in there when the book goes to print? Very much so.
No negative review can feel as disheartening as waiting and hoping an agent will want to represent you or that an editor will want to buy your book. A reviewer is reading a finished copy. I dreamed of the opportunity to have that book hit the bookshelves so that, love or hate, readers could pick it up and read it. That negative review represents the fulfillment of that dream as much as a positive review does.
MBA: What authors do you like to read?
I read all over the map so it’s hard to nail me down. I’m going to spout a list in no particular order: Joanna Bourne, Sherry Thomas, Lisa Kleypas, Guy Gavriel Kay, Lisa See, Stephen King, Jade Lee, Marjorie Liu and Susan Elizabeth Philips. I’ll pick up any book by these names, but that doesn’t mean I’ve come anywhere near to reading all their books.
I actually like to read debut books quite a bit too. I like to see the hunger and the rawness of those books and find what’s special about them that made a publisher want to pick it up.
MBA: Will your next project be about China or a different type of book?
It’s going to be set in China, but hopefully a whole different type of book. There is so much to explore in any culture. All you have to do is point your lens in another direction and it feels all new again.
MBA: Why do you write the books you write?
These are the books I want to read. They have everything I love in them: adventure, honor, romance, and characters that are larger than life. It feels so good to be able to write like that. I hope that love comes through for readers to enjoy.
Thanks for the interview! These questions were a lot of fun!
Jeannie Lin writes historical romantic adventures set in Tang Dynasty China. Her short story, The Taming of Mei Lin from Harlequin Historical Undone is available September 1. Her Golden Heart award-winning novel, Butterfly Swords, will be released October 1 from Harlequin Historical and received 4-stars from Romantic Times Reviews—“The action never stops, the love story is strong and the historical backdrop is fascinating.”