Friday, October 8, 2010

Jeannie Lin – Guest Blog –West Meets East

Please help me welcome author Jeannie Lin to My Reading Room today, for her guest blog.  Thanks Jeannie for being a guest blogger today!

Butterfly Swords features a romance between a western hero and an Asian heroine. When the blurb started hitting the blogosphere, I noticed a few comments expressing excitement over an interracial romance while others expressed some wariness. Not another white guy goes to Asia story!

I do admit, I’m not exactly original in this premise. I’d have to say my fascination for this goes all the way back to when I first saw the miniseries Shogun with my parents. The series was based on a novel of the same name by James Clavell. In the series, an Englishman, John Blackthorne, is shipwrecked in 17th century Japan. At first he’s taken prisoner, but gradually begins to learn the culture and earns a place of respect with the feudal warlords.
Within the story, a forbidden romance develops between Blackthorne and his translator, Lady Mariko. I was fascinated by that as well. Two people from different worlds; all the juicy tension and conflict!
There were many reasons that series had such an effect on me. First, it was really cool to see Asian faces on American television. More importantly, these were Asians and Caucasians together. We lived in Southern California. Most of my classmates were Caucasian and it meant something for me to have this mix of ethnicities portrayed.

The world of Shogun was so dramatic and exotic to me. I’m Vietnamese with some Chinese ancestry and didn’t know anything about Japan. I understood some aspects of the Japanese culture portrayed because I was Asian, but other parts were completely foreign. I identified with Lady Mariko because she was an Asian female, but I also identified with John Blackthorne, a westerner in a strange land.
I’ve been asked whether I put a white guy in China so Butterfly Swords would be accepted by mainstream publishers. Not at all. I can’t say I knew starting out what would make the story acceptable or not. Maybe having a multicultural romance on top of an unusual historical setting made it an even harder sell. I just don’t know.

I do know I wanted to create that same sense of discovery and conflict. I barely understood the plot of Shogun when I first watched it, but I still I remember specific scenes to this very day. Butterfly Swords was inspired by a lot of things. At the top of the list has to be the memory of watching Shogun on television and being sucked in by the swords, the honor, and the romance.

(Images from “LEGAL: the contents of this weblog ONLY may be used elsewhere if the source is clearly mentioned.”)

Jeannie Lin writes historical romantic adventures set in Tang Dynasty China. Her short story, The Taming of Mei Lin from Harlequin Historical Undone is available September 1. Her Golden Heart award-winning novel, Butterfly Swords, will be released October 1 from Harlequin Historical and received 4-stars from Romantic Times Reviews—“The action never stops, the love story is strong and the historical backdrop is fascinating.”
Join the launch celebration at for giveaways and special features. Visit Jeannie online at:


Julie said...

To this day, I still get inordinately excited when I see an Asian face in western media. Actual lines and significance to the plot sends me into spasms. \o/

Jeannie Lin said...

Thanks for having me here at the Reading Room. This post was especially fun to write because it went back to one of my childhood memories.

Julie - I feel the same excitement! My heart skipped a beat when I saw the original cover of Cindy Pon's Silver Phoenix. My very own cover nearly brought me to tears. :)

FredTownWard said...


I assume that you are aware that Shogun is based on a true story:, but you might not be aware of another series of novels inspired by this same true story.

Akahige Namban wrote a series of 4 novels based in this era, and one of the four main characters who appears in each novel is Jiro Miura, fictional second son of William Adams. (It was actually marketed as "The erotic equivalent of Shogun")

Chrysanthemum, Rose, and the Samurai

Shogun's Agents

Women of the Mountain, Warriors of the Town

The New Concubine
previously published as
Women of Gion: The Legendary Age

Jeannie Lin said...

I was aware of the story of William Adams, but didn't realize there were so many other stories spawned from it.

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