Interview with Jeannie Lin


Joanna here. GambledAway-hires

I’m interviewing Jeannie Lin, writer of most excellent

Historical Romances set in Tang Dynasty China and Steampunk set in an alternate but formidably realistic historical China. She writes love, adventure, complicated family relationship, and high stakes in a world that sets all our assumptions wobbling. These are not your everyday Romances, folks.

This week Jeannie and I celebrate the release of our new novellas — hers and mine — in the e-anthology Gambled Away.

Joanna:  Howdy Jeannie. Glad to see you.

Jeannie: Hello! So glad to be back here with the Wenches. Can you believe Gambled Away is finally here?

Joanna:  I'm so happy to share an anthology with you. Oddly enough, I think both our stories are, at the core, about women escaping the constraints that narrow and bind their choices. 'Taking their lives into their own hands' as you put it.

My Aimée, in Gideon and the Den of Thieves, was sold into the service of Lazarus, the King Thief of Regency-era London. One does not just walk away from that service. One runs. We see Aimée trying to free herself from Lazarus.

Jeannie: I must admit after reading Lazarus, I had big baddie envy. I want to go back and rewrite the entire last half of my story. *smacks hand* Lazarus is so dark and twisted and complicated! Completely unpredictable.

AncientchinesecoinsMy crime lords are much more straightforward — they're businessmen. They don't make emotional decisions, which makes them neither evil nor good. Unlike everyone else in the story, they have  nothing to hide and their goals are quite clear. It's all the other characters who sneak and lie and betray one another, often times believing they are doing the right thing. 

New york bowry street gangJoanna: I’ll just reassure you that there is no lack of menace in your crime lords. Pretty chilling customers.

While my Aimée faces the obvious practical problem associated with dwelling among the brutal and larcenous, Wei-wei’s life is more comfortable — on the surface. But it is not, perhaps, more free.


Jeannie:  There's two sides of that coin for me. Chinese women in imperial times are known for being subservient — it's a stereotype often perpetuated in the West. But for me what's interesting is the ways that women have empowered themselves while keeping the illusion that they were not wresting power. When Chinese women were forbidden to write, they came up with their own written language, for instance.

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Women Behaving Badly – the adventures of Moll Cutpurse

RSC Roaring GirlNicola here. Last week I had the fabulous treat of a trip to Stratford-On-Avon to see the play “The Roaring Girl,” written by Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker, who were contemporaries of William Shakespeare. The poster for it is on the left. I love the Swan Theatre at Stratford; it is small and intimate with the stage projecting into the audience and a three-sided gallery. You feel transported back to the sort of theatre that 17th century audiences would have visited, though probably these days we have more comfortable seats.

The Roaring Girl is the story of a character called Moll Cutpurse. The name Moll is a pun: as well as being short for Mary it was a word used to describe a young woman of disreputable character who has a reputation as a thief or “cutpurse.” The phrase The Roaring Girl is more often used to refer to “roaring boys”, the gallants who got drunk in taverns, roistered about London, got into fights, smoked, and generally behaved badly.

CosmoThe ideal modest woman of the 17th century was described in one conduct book as someone whose “home is her delight, at public plays she never will be seen and to be a tavern guest she hates.” Moll most decidedly does not fit this image with her men’s clothing, her smoking, drinking and swordfighting. Yet the play, written in 1611, is surprisingly sympathetic to Moll. She is portrayed as a woman determined to be her own person in a society that demands conformity. It can be construed as a proto-feminist piece. Moll is called a whore by those men who disapprove of her behaviour and want to control her, yet she is shown to be honest with a more powerful sense of morality than those who try to entrap her.

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