1. Please describe your latest book in 15 words or fewer.
Romantic adventure on the Silk Road with the lure of a three million dollar reward.
2. What inspired you to write SONG OF THE SILK ROAD?
I owe this novel to a brave and unconventional writer -- and a dream.
In the seventies, Taiwanese writer San Mao’s adventures with her husband in the Sahara Desert captivated many readers, including myself. Inspired by her, I decided to write about a young woman’s adventures in the desert. But instead of the Sahara, my lifelong fascination with the romantic history of the Silk Road led me to write about its Mountains of Heaven and the Taklaman Desert, also named Go-In-But-Never-Come-Out.
Then I had a dream.
In my dream a young woman receives a letter from an aunt whom she had never known existed. The niece was told to undertake a long journey in China, retracing the same routes the aunt had taken, meeting the same people, and doing things the aunt had done. The niece would receive a big sum of money, if she successfully carried out all the tasks – and if she survived.
I remember the dream, but not when it came to me. The young woman had a strong personality and I knew she wanted me to give her a voice. The result is this adventure and love story, Song of the Silk Road.
3. Where do you do most of your writing?
At home. I can’t write at cafes, since most have loud music which is a distraction for me. However if they play classical music, then I stop writing and listen.
4. What is your favorite book?
The 2,500 year old Daode Jing, Classic of the Way and Virtue. This is about the Way of the Universe and how to live in accord wth it. A central theme is how the soft, feminine power can overcome brute strength. I imbibed a lot of its philosophy over the years and it crops up in my novels.
5. Which part of SONG OF THE SILK ROAD was the most enjoyable to write?
There are a few. First, the love-making scene in the desert, imagining golden singing sand dunes, the unrelieved heat, the passion…all aphrodiasical.
Another sequence I particularly enjoyed is the protagonist Lily Lin’s platonic love with one of her admirers – an Ughur healer who loves and protects her without asking anything back from her. Later, upon learning his tragic story she discovers she can open her yin eye to see beings from the realm of the dead.
6. Can you tell us something about yourself that not a lot of your readers don’t know?
Besides my hectic writing schedule, that I still manage to take time to perform the Chinese zither (guqin) professionally – last year I was invited by Carnegie Hall to play at its Chinese Music Festival -- and teach calligraphy workshops.
Mingmei - thank you so much for the interview and readers - please come back and visit me again this weekend to see my review of this amazing book!
Song of the Silk Road
Publisher/Publication Date: Kensington, March 29, 2011