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.
My 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.
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.