Cat Johnson Braves Doll Lil’s Word Association Challenge!

Guests »

Cat Johnson Braves Doll Lil’s Word Association Challenge!

August 7, 2013 – 12:48 am | One Comment

I’m back from vacation and ready to get down and dirty finding new free and amazingly bargained books for you! But first this week I have something special. I convinced super hot and crazy talented …

Read the full story »
Home » Authors, China, Features, Giveaways, Guest Blog, Guests, Jeannie Lin, Passport Week

Passport: China: Guest Blog and Giveaway: Once Upon A Time in China by Jeannie Lin

Submitted by on April 29, 2011 – 4:00 am21 Comments

Once Upon a Time in China

Excuse me for borrowing from the title of the popular Jet Li movie, but I think it’s appropriate given how much I’ve admitted that the martial arts or wuxia genre inspired my stories.

When I started writing my first novel many, many years ago, I envisioned a “West meets East” story, a love story, an adventure story. I’m fascinated by the intersection of cultures, especially with modern day globalization. The idea of the Silk Road was always such an inspiration; that a series of trade routes connected East to West long before Marco Polo. I wanted to put all these elements together and it seemed that the only way to do so was to create a fictional land based on Tang Dynasty China. Perhaps readers would be more forgiving of historical and cultural details if I could say I made it all up. Then it would be all about the story and the characters.

But the more I researched China, the more I realized I didn’t want to say I made it all up. I didn’t want to borrow the culture and the setting and the martial arts tradition and put them into a made up empire that would so obviously be based on China. So I put my money on the line and committed: I would write historical romances set in Tang Dynasty China.

From that moment, the story came alive.

My debut novel (which by the way is not that first manuscript) takes place in the 8th century, 756 A.D., in a time that I consider the beginning of the fall of the Tang Dynasty. No worries—it rises and falls for the next hundred fifty years. Such is the span and scope of empire. This is a time when an unparalleled Golden Age leads to a blossoming of high culture, economic expansion, and military strength. But much like the Roman Empire at its zenith, the military ramp-up and decentralization required to administer such a vast kingdom causes the Tang Empire to collapse in upon itself.

In truth, these historical romances don’t take place in just regular old China. They take place in a special world called Jianghu. This is not by any means a world I made up! Jianghu comes from a very long Chinese literary tradition. It’s one of those things you need to immerse yourself in and then you’ll know it when you see it. The word itself means “rivers and lakes”, but it evokes a romanticized view of imperial China as a place inhabited by emperors and wandering swordsmen. There are elegant ladies and cunning tricksters and yes, everyone is kung-fu fighting. It’s a place where an oath of honor must be fulfilled. Where love lasts beyond death. Where heroes and villains alike abide by a strict code. It’s like Camelot or Sherwood Forest is to Western literary tradition. A historical time and setting, but cast in a chivalric, adventurous light.

You get a glimpse of Jianghu in movies like Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. And I hope you get a glimpse of this chivalric world in my Tang Dynasty romances.
is a romantic adventure that features a sword-wielding princess Ai Li and a western barbarian Ryam. Honor & family are everything to Ai Li. When she learns the warlord she was supposed to marry is plotting against the throne, she defies the engagement and embarks on a journey to save the empire. Ryam is a stranger in a strange land who has lost his way and his purpose. When he becomes Ai Li’s reluctant protector, they both come up against questions of honor, loyalty and love.
My upcoming release in September is THE DRAGON AND THE PEARL, the sequel to Butterfly Swords. (Cover coming soon!) Military governor Li Tao has risen to power as a ruthless enforcer, but now finds himself pitted against the entire empire. Ling Suyin is a former imperial concubine who has survived intrigue and assassination in the imperial court. When she’s captured by Li Tao, she has to use every skill in her arsenal to stay alive. This story features the shadowy underworld of Chinese lore and a fierce passion between two people who, for the sake of survival, have never allowed themselves to trust or to love.
To get the latest about releases and other news, visit”
I’m also on Twitter:

Thanks for having me here! I’ll be giving away a copy of BUTTERFLY SWORDS to one random commenter. Print copy or e-book.

You heard right lovers! The fabulously talented Jeannie Lin is going to give a copy of her Tang Dynasty romance BUTTERFLY SWORDS to one lucky commenter.

During China’s infamous Tang Dynasty, a time awash with luxury yet littered with deadly intrigues and fallen royalty, betrayed Princess Ai Li flees before her wedding.
Miles from home, with only her delicate butterfly swords for defense, she enlists the reluctant protection of a blue-eyed warrior….

Battle-scarred, embittered Ryam has always held his own life at cheap value. Ai Li’s innocent trust in him and honorable, stubborn nature make him desperate to protect her—which means not seducing the first woman he has ever truly wanted….

So, tell us what you think of China. Have you read any other books about the period or set in China? Do you like martial arts? Do you think Jet Li is as smexy as we do?  TELL US!!!

This contest is international and will end May 14th. Winner will be selected randomly and will be announced in our Week In Review post Sunday May 15th.

Special Thanks to Jeannie Lin for participating in our Passport to China feature!

Paperback Dolls is made up of women from different parts of the world, with different backgrounds, different tastes and beliefs that were brought together through a love of reading. We like to think of ourselves as a cyber version of "The View" that focuses on books, authors, and reading. We are proof positive that one common love can unite the most opposite of people and form lasting friendships that introduce other ways of life and perspectives to each other.
Paperback Dolls
View all posts by Paperback Dolls
s website


  • Day says:

    Thank you so much for sharing with us! I am loving all the books set in China, and the Tang Dynasty especially!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Luci says:

    I think Jet Li is HOT! Thanks for the post and giveaway!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Tore says:

    I have never read any books with the setting set in China. I would like to very much. Please enter me in contest.

    Reply to this comment »
  • I have read a few books set in China or set in lands based on ancient china and in fact got my user name after and as a result of a novel set in China Thanks for the giveaway :)

    Reply to this comment »
  • Noa says:

    I can't wait to read these books! Chinese history is so fascinating!
    Thank you for visiting :D

    Reply to this comment »
  • I haven't read any books set in China, which is kinda shocking given my love for the country and its history, but I've seen and loved plenyplentyplenty of movies set there. And, oh, what a bad question to ask me… I love Jet Li and own almost every movie of his (even 'Dr. Wai & the Scripture with No Words'. Yes, fan!).
    I'd love to read something set in ancient China, so consider me entered in the contest =P

    Reply to this comment »
  • debbie says:

    My son has black belts in matsukaze and jujitsu, and is going for his black belt in judo. So I do know a bit about martial arts. One of my all time favorite stories and movies, is Raise the Red Laturn.
    I love the history, food and people of China. Their goverment,I do not like at all. I wish the people had more freedom. Some of the people of China have suffered trying to speak out.
    I would love to read the book.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Jeannie Lin says:

    Thanks for having me here at the PB Dolls blog. I'm so enamored with your avatars!

    Jet Li is definitely one of my faves. I'm glad to see him start getting mainstream roles in the U.S. and definitely wouldn't mind seeing him in a movie version of one of my stories….sorry, got lost in a daydream for a moment there. :)

    Thanks everyone for the lovely comments. China really is a wonderful place to write about and I literally learn something new about the history, the culture, and the people every day.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Vivi says:

    Would definitely love to read Butterfly Swords! I think it's the culture of the country that captivates me…it is so mysterious!

    I love finding new authors and books. Thank you dolls and thank you Jeannie Lin for the giveaway.

    please enter me

    Reply to this comment »
  • Vivien says:

    I've read a few asian inspired novels and have really enjoyed them. I really enjoy martial arts as well. I think there should be more books based in China.

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

    Reply to this comment »
  • Keisha Talley says:

    I have not read any books about China but I do play Dynasty Warriors on the playstation

    Reply to this comment »
  • marybelle says:

    I don't believe I have read any books set in China or indeed of the period. A great place to start.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Julie says:

    It's weird being a product of China, but never setting foot there. But believe me, it's on the to-do list!

    Thanks for the insightful interview–I can't even imagine all the research you had to do in order to properly depict such a rich culture.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Kristin says:

    I would love to read this book. Great post! I think China is very inspiring.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Aik says:

    I've read a book set in China – Snow Flower and The Secret Fan by Lisa See. I love the book!

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

    Reply to this comment »
  • I honestly don't think I have read a book set in China yet. I would love to though, I can only imagine the different scenery and culture. Also I can't comment on Jet Li's smexyness without my boyfriend being crazy jealous because he loves him!

    thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com

    Reply to this comment »
  • Diana says:

    I haven't read any book about the period or set in China and I think China is an amazing country with wonderful history. The truth is I don't realy like Jet Li .
    Thanks for the giveaway!

    artgiote at gmail dot com

    Reply to this comment »
  • Awesome

    Reply to this comment »
  • lauriehere says:

    Hi! I'm reading a book about a Japanese woman (NOT CHINESE – but close – she's Asian!!!), but she knits and talks about her life and comparing it to knitting- how her lives weaves as does knitting! She talks about the ways are back home and how they compare to living here in the US. VERY good reading! The author, her, writes very smoothly and the sentences and story just flows together so nicely. You'll be on page 56 and next thing you know you areon page 156! GREAT writer! She write with such ease and enjoyment. Her writing pulls you right into her story. The book is called 'Yarn' by Kyoko Mori. No, I am not a fan of Martial Arts, and sometimes it seems as if that is all there is on TV at night is a Chuck Norris Martial Arts thing!!
    Laurie Carlson

    Reply to this comment »
  • Sakira says:

    I love ancient Chinese history. I've read various books set in China over the years but none recently. I've always wanted to learn martial arts. I have some friends who know some. :D

    elfdrop AT gmail DOT com

    Reply to this comment »
  • Thanks for the contest. I don't know a lot about China, but I do know I would visit in a heartbeat and love the rich history.
    coreenamcburnie at gmail dot com

    Reply to this comment »