Today, I'm fortunate to have a fellow Kensington author and writing friend, Mingmei Yip, visiting Brant Flakes. Her latest novel, Song of the Silk Road, will be released tomorrow (!!), and I'm so excited to get to share a little about her and her new story with you all.
Can you tell us the premise of your new book?
Song of the Silk Road (Kensington Books, 2011) is a romantic adventure on China's fabled route and the Go-In-But-Never-Come-Out Taklamakan Desert with the lure of a three dollar reward.
The protagonist Linly Lin lost her parents in the same year, then an aunt she never knew existed sent her a letter asking her to undertake a long journey on China's Silk Road, retracing the same routes the aunt had taken, meeting the same people, and doing things the aunt had done -- some are very dangerous and one even perverse. Lily would receive a big sum of money, if she successfully carried out all the tasks – and if she survived.
I'm very happy that Publisher's Weekly gave the novel a very nice review:
"lively...at once modern and traditional.... Surprising and funny. Yip's modern heroine's quest is filled with unique companions, unforeseen dangers, unexpected joys, and bitter sorrows. Part epic, part coming-of-age story, part modern fairy tale..." (Oh, that's wonderful! Congrats. ;)
What's a personality trait you love about one of the characters in your novel and why?
My goal is to write about women who are strong, daring, determined and will overcome adversities to get what they want in life. The protagonist Lily Lin is such a person. Her only weakness is men -- until she meets Alex, a fellow adventurer.
What's one scene from this story you loved writing and why?
The love scene between Lily and her younger lover Alex on the desert. Imagine the heat, passion, echoes, sensuous golden sand....
Another scene I like is when Lily used her yin eye to communicate with her dead, ill-fated healer Muslin friend Lop Nor. Lop Nor was not her lover, but someone who loved and proteccted her unconditionally during her journey. The affection between the dead and the alive is unique and very touching.
Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?
I remember when I was about seven or eight years old I saw the moon and told my mother that it looked like my clipped finger nail. It was then that my mother predicted that I'd be a writer. When I was fifteen I sold an article to a magazine in Hong Kong and got paid fifteen dollars. I made a grand gesture of taking my classmate out for dishes of dim sum! But that was a long time ago.
My first sale in the U.S. was Chinese Children's Favorite Stories (Tuttle 2005) of which I both wrote and illustrated.
My first novel sale was Peach Blossom Pavilion -- story of the last Chinese Geisha -- and I'm very happy to say that it's now in its fifth prinitng! This was followed by Petals from the Sky, my second novel -- an interracial love story.
Did you go on any special trips to research the setting of your new book?
I traveled to the Silk Road and really enjoyed its beauty and treasures, especially the frescos and sculptures stored inside the caves hundreds of years ago. The magic and metaphysical feelings that I felt are portrayed in my novel.
What's your Writer Fantasy--i.e., to see your book make into a feature film, to be on the New York Times bestseller list for 40 consecutive weeks, etc.?
Of course both, plus translated into more than 25 languages! Aren't these every writers' fantasy? (LOL!! Yes, I think you're right!)
What’s next for you? Is there a new book in the pipeline?
Yes, it's about a woman spy set in the twenties Shanghai. Camilla was brought up in an orphanage, then later adopted as a teenager only to find out her adoptive father was a gangster head who'd force and train her to be a spy....
What do you think readers might be surprised to know about you?
Maybe that I still manage to have time to perform on the Chinese qin, teach workshops on calligraphy, do storytelling and write/illustrate children's books. But I don't have time for TV (which I miss)!
Mingmei, thanks so much for being here with us today and telling us all about your books ;). For more info about Mingmei's novels, please check out her website! Best wishes to you all for a wonderful week.