Hi everyone! For this week! I had the pleasure of doing a Q&A with the amazing Judy I. Lin about her Book Of Tea Duology, as the second book A Venom Dark & Sweet, came out on 8/23! So let’s get into this!
First, let me just say thank you for taking time to do this and answer my questions! As you know, I LOVED A Magic Steeped In Poison and was delighted that we didn’t have to wait long for A Venom Dark & Sweet. We are going to make this a spoiler free Q&A because we want people to go out and get your books!
What was it like writing the duology and then having them published within months of each other?
It was definitely stressful while I was writing the second book because of the tight timeline. However, I was happy with the way the story turned out because I was able to revise the first book and put in hints about the second book as well as tweak some of the details to ensure the flow of the story.
Releasing the second book so close to the debut of the first one though is definitely overwhelming! But I’m very lucky in that I got to go on tour for A Venom Dark and Sweet and meet all the wonderful readers in person. It made me really happy to be able to celebrate the release of the book and see it on the shelves.
What was the catalyst or the inspiration to you writing this duology? Had this been an idea you had for a long time?
I started working on the idea of what would become the Book of Tea duology in Fall 2018 as I was playing around with the concept of “magical tea”. It took a year to research and worldbuild and work on the sample chapters before it sold a little over a year later.
Who was the first character that came to you in the series? Did you envision them or hear their voice?
Ning was always the character who spoke to me from the start. I envisioned someone whose life was already predetermined to assist her father, but then a scroll from the capital arrives and that changes everything. Those scenes didn’t make it into the book, but that was how Ning came to me.
So AVDAS is a bit of a shift from AMSIP as this book was a Dual POV (which is my JAM by the way), what was that like for you going from a singular perspective to dual?
I had a ton of fun writing Kang’s POV! I thought it opened up more of the world so that we could go somewhere unexpected with him. But returning to Ning’s POV felt very comfortable and familiar.
Did you always know that AVDAS would be a dual POV? If not, what inspired the change?
This was a suggestion from my brilliant editor! I had a very short first draft for the sequel initially and I knew something was missing but I wasn’t sure what. She suggested adding Kang’s POV and it all grew from there!
I also noticed that one perspective was in first person why the other was in 3rd, was there a particular reason behind this?
During the events of the second book, Kang felt very distant from everyone around him. I chose the third person perspective to represent his state of mind and also to distinguish him from Ning’s POV, as ultimately the story still belonged to Ning.
I’m actually really glad this was a Dual POV because I found myself wondering the thoughts of the other quite frequently while reading AMSIP so I was pleased that we got their perspective. What was it like writing this character’s experiences?
I don’t want to go into too much detail because of spoilers, but I thought writing from his POV helped a lot in understanding his motivations and why he made the choices he did in the first book!
Between the two main characters, we got to see so much more of the world they lived in and met a lot of new characters. What was your favorite part about expanding the world and the cast?
I had so much fun coming up with the different places that Ning travels through in A Venom Dark and Sweet. I kept an inspiration board of places that inspired each of the locations, and referred to it frequently. Since I wrote the book while travel restrictions were still in place, it was my own way of “sightseeing” from my keyboard.
Did you have a favorite character to write in AVDAS? What made them your favorite?
I enjoyed writing a particular side character that Ning meets in the story – Brother Huang. Even though Ning’s encounters with him are brief, he certainly made an impact, and I enjoyed thinking of his back story and why his paths crossed with Ning’s.
Which character or characters did you write yourself most into in AVDAS? What did you give them of yourself like personality, interests, etc?
I feel like I put a little bit of myself in each of the characters, whether it’s something I aspire to, something I hope for, something I am annoyed with, etc.
Did you base any characters on people in your life or name any after anyone?
I’m always surprised to hear when writers name their characters after people they know! I actively avoid this while writing as I would definitely be influenced by the person who has that name!
Is there anything you want readers to know about The Book Of Tea Duology, if they haven’t read it yet or gotten to AVDAS?
I hope that readers will enjoy the world in the Book of Tea and the mythology behind the world, whether they are being introduced to Chinese mythology or whether they have knowledge of it and can appreciate the twists that I put into the story to make it unique. I also hope that it sparks an interest in them where they might want to learn more about Taiwanese culture or food or tea!
Do you think you will write anything in this world again or do you feel that the stories that needed to be told have been?
I think Ning’s story arc has concluded for me in my mind in the two books. I do have an idea for a chapter or perhaps a short novella that might give readers a deeper glimpse into certain relationships in the book…but no plans right now to write them. Maybe some day!
Okay, so my favorite question to ask any author is actually a two part question. If you had the ability to hang out with any of your characters in real life, who are you hanging out with? And what are y’all doing?
I think it would be fun to hang out with Zhen and Ruyi in Taipei! I feel like Zhen would like to be in a modern city. She’d probably like to explore all of the little shops in the shopping district during the day, and then we would go to the night market to try all sorts of food at night!
Alrighty, I’m going to end this here so the readers can go out and pick up A Venom Dark And Sweet, if they haven’t already! Thank you so much Judy for taking time from your busy life to answer my questions! I’m truly honored that you did!
Thank you so much for having me! I hope everyone enjoys A Venom Dark and Sweet!
Now if you haven’t added this book to your TBR, you need to change that! This duology is filled with court intrigue, mythology, found friends/family and MAGIC (which is truly the making of a great book/series)! Please be sure to follow Judy on all social media platforms Instagram @judyilinauthor; Twitter @judyilin; as well as visit her website https://judyilin.com/ because she is lovely!
Have you read A Magic Steeped In Poison yet? Have you added A Venom Dark And Sweet to your TBR? Let me know here or on social media on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can find me mostly in book centered clubs/rooms (primarily on Tuesdays and Fridays). Also please subscribe to this blog if you haven’t already because it makes me feel like I just a really amazing cup of tea (with or without bubbles)! Until the next post, I’m sending y’all bookish love and wishing you happy reading & tea drinking!