Jeannie Lin is the author of My Fair Concubine, a Harlequin Historical with a oh so pretty cover. This is her third book set in during the Tang Dynasty. I get exhausted by the number of Regency romances released every month, so it’s exciting to see a historical romance that tackles a different time period, as well as a setting other than Europe or the American West. I was delighted when Jeannie took the time to drop by the virtual offices to chat about her book – check out what she has to say!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Jeannie Lin] Twin mommy and ex-high school science/technology teacher turned romance author. I’m a bit of a geek and a sentimental fool.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about My Fair Concubine?
[Jeannie Lin] My Fair Concubine is a Tang Dynasty twist on the classic "My Fair Lady." In the 9th century, the Chinese imperial court would send "princesses" off to foreign kingdoms in a practice called heqin, which means peace marriage. What the barbarians didn’t know was that these princesses were often concubines or daughters of noble families rather than true royalty. In My Fair Concubine, Fei Long is a nobleman who’s been put into a difficult position and has to train a tea house girl to become such an alliance bride. During the process, the two of them start falling in love, of course.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Jeannie Lin] The My Fair Lady concept is a classic one for romance. It has wonderful elements of class conflict and commentary. For me, the idea actually revolved around first my research into the practice of heqin. Also, I knew that in Chinese opera, men traditionally played the female roles. I started forming this idea of a nobleman and his friends trying to train a commoner and a scene of a male actor trying to teach a young woman how to act, ironically, like a woman stuck with me.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the story?
[Jeannie Lin] This book was a little bit of a departure from my previous two novels. It was lighter in tone with some comic elements. I wanted to balance humor with deep emotion and historical detail. The sexual tension in the story was also understated and I wanted the right touch of romance. So the big challenge for me was how to execute this balancing act in a way that still yielded an emotionally satisfying and interesting story.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Yan Ling?
[Jeannie Lin] Hard-working, eager, lively
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Fei Long would never eat with his tea?
[Jeannie Lin] Hee hee…
Crab Rangoon, General Tso’s Chicken, Crumpets (because none of these are Chinese)
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Jeannie Lin] I’m hugely influenced by the wuxia genre, specifically the movie adaptations of the books of Jin Yong. I also read Chinese poetry translated in English to get a feel for how the language is translated. Very often, I’ll get inspiration from the poetry, either from the tone, the imagery, or the subject matter. Historical research gives me many ideas, of course. And then the historical romance genre to top it all off. I love the sweeping historical romances that are full of adventure and angst.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Jeannie Lin] My laptop. Coffee. Writechat.net
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Jeannie Lin] Broken by Megan Hart. I’m on a contemporary kick right now and Broken is exactly the sort of emotionally complex and psychologically deep erotica I love. It’s the second book of hers I’ve read and I love how Broken pushes the boundaries and poses difficult questions about love, loyalty and desire. It made me want to go and seek out everything she’s ever written.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Jeannie Lin] The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. It may be the book I’ve re-read most often. I read through all the S.E. Hinton books in middle school, but I loved her first book the most. I felt like all the others were fragments of that first one. I thought about this book. Kept it on my bed and read it whenever I had insomnia…which was often. I used to cry every time I read it.
I chose this book because the characters in it talked about Gone with the Wind and how the Southern gentlemen kept on riding off to die. I read Gone with the Wind because of it and GWTW is also one of my all time faves.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Jeannie Lin] I’m a big foodie. I like to watch the Food Network, cook, look for new restaurants and bakeries to try, and of course eat!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Jeannie Lin] I’m off and on Twitter all day since my day job has me online all the time. I also have a contact form on my website and actually have most of my correspondence with readers after I send out my monthly newsletter. That’s when readers tends to e-mail with little notes and comments or questions and it’s become nice time to catch up with the long time subscribers.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
You can order My Fair Concubine from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below. It is also available from Harlequin.com