Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Interview with Jeannie Lin

Please give a warm welcome to Butterfly Swords author, Jeannie Lin, who graciously agreed to answer all of my questions (please go to the Rōnempire for the rest of the interview).
What obstacles did you have to work through while writing?
J.L: I did have a 60 hour a week job while writing most of the time. So exhaustion and just finding the time were obstacles at first, but once you really want it. Those things don’t stop you anymore.
I know a lot of writers (myself included) are squeamish about writing love scenes because our mother seems to be reading along. Did you ever have that problem? How did you get over it?
J.L: I didn’t worry about my mother as much as my Little Sis (who’s my critique partner). I worried more about not being able to do it and the scene being laughable. I still have problems re-reading my love scenes and will tend to lightly edit them or just rewrite them all together. Now my mum, my namesake, my cousins, former classmates, even former students have likely read my book. It does feel odd when I let myself think of it. 
As a writer, you have to get to the point where you can construct a love scene the same way you’d construct any other scene. And there are way more uncomfortable situations in life: shame, grief, disappointment. Why should love and desire tie us into such knots? The story is the greater purpose.
Most writers instill some portion of themselves in their work – are there any similarities between you, Ailey and/or Ryam?
J.L: Ailey is only like me in her tendency to decide and then act. Other than that, we’re quite different. She’s more steadfast and divides the world into black and white, where for me, everything is always shifting and gray. Ryam is also too nice of a guy to be like me. He always tries to do the right thing and botches it. I’ve actually always identified more with the characters of Adrian and Miya, [other characters in "Butterfly Swords"] who are alpha dogs. LOL.
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.
Another question I love to ask: Do you have any advice which may help others get past blocks?
J.L: Ask yourself, how much do you want this? There is really no other way.
Are you interested in writing in other genres or age ranges? (If you answered this above, then disregard this question.)
J.L: Probably not age range. I don’t have the right touch for a YA or younger book. That’s my sister’s expertise. As to genre, I may write in a contemporary setting one day or historical fiction, non-romance.

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 at the Rōnempire. For other opportunities to win some neat stuff, check out Jeannie’s 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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