Jade Lee is a truly unique voice in the romance genre and fast becoming one of the reigning Queens of exotic romance with her Chinese historicals - tapping into her roots to show readers the fascinating customs of the 19th century Orient in her amazing Tigress series. This award-winning author has previously written paranormal, contemporary and light Regency romance as Katherine Greyle. A second pen name and a new direction in writing has opened another set of doors to readers who enjoy mysteriously unusual sensuality in their historical novels.
Jade, your current exotic and erotic Tigress historical series set in China for Dorchester's Leisure imprint is unique and absolutely enthralling! You previously had written several light Regencies as Katherine Greyle and switched to writing with a much hotter voice under your Jade Lee penname first with your Regency, A Devil's Bargain (6/04) and continuing with your Chinese Tigress series in 2005. Why did you decide to make this change in your writing style?
After 9-11 comedy was all that sold. Three years later, the market was looking for something different. So I tried writing something very sensual just to see if I could do it. My editor, loved it, but didn't want my Kathy Greyle readers to expect a light hearted comedy and get dark sensuality. So I made a name change and took a new direction in my writing. He'd heard me talking about my Chinese heritage and some of my interesting relatives and suggested I try China. And voila, Jade starts writing Asian erotic romance.
Book three of the Tigress series, DESPERATE TIGRESS features tantric sex teacher, Shi-Po, who is a middle-aged, desperate housewife and very unhappy in her marriage to her clothing merchant husband, Tan Kui Yu. I knew as a prominent character in your two previous books that Shi-Po would eventually become your heroine. However, it was a surprise to me, that you have her reconciling with her estranged husband in this book. Explain to readers about the sexual practices of Taoism in late 1800s China and their followers' belief in how they could obtain immortality?
Wow, that's a tall order! Okay, the goal of many Buddhists is to elevate the spirit enough such that their consciousness merges with the infinite One like a drop of water joining the ocean. In western terms, they want to visit Heaven. Traditional Buddhists do this by meditation, celibacy, and other physical deprivations. Some fighting Buddhists excite the spirit through their physical work, using the energy of their exercises to excite the spirit. The Tigresses believe that sexual experience can also excite the spirit. And so, the Tigresses use the energy of sex to visit Heaven.
Desperate Tigress tells about the fascinating but cruel practice of the binding of females' feet which was an expression of true beauty in China in the past. Explain a little about this custom: why it was done, at what age and for how long it occurred? Also, was it only done in China or throughout the Orient?
Unfortunately, foot binding occurred in the earliest dynasties (around 400 AD, I think) in China and spread into the surrounding countries. The practice is believed to have started from a poem that praised the Emperor's mistress's small feet. Within the next hundred years or so, it became the practice for all wealthy girls to bind their feet. It was a sign of status that showed they would never labor or really have to walk anywhere. The most elite women were always carried in palanquins. The process is actually quite brutal and could begin when the child was 2 or 3, but often waited until the girl was closer to 5. Often conquering invaders like the Manchurians (the last Qin dynasty) would outlaw foot binding. Manchu women did not bind their feet. But the practice was so well established that even an edict from the Emperor could not stop it. It took the Communists to wipe it out, though the Chinese still prize small feet.
In book one, WHITE TIGRESS and book two, HUNGRY TIGRESS of your Leisure series only the heroes are Chinese but the heroines are American or English. Do you feel Chinese or American/English heroines make for greater sexual tension in your historicals and do you plan to reverse the sexes with a future book where the hero is Caucasian and the heroine is Asian?
Actually, it has little to do with sexual tension. It's about reader identification. In the first two Tigress books, I needed to introduce the Eastern culture to a white audience. It's easiest to do that with a white heroine and a Chinese hero. The (typically) female reader identifies with the while heroine and so learns about China as the heroine does. I continue that in book four, Burning Tigress (6-06). But book five, Stone Tigress (8-06), reverses the sexes. The heroine, Little Pearl, is Chinese, but the hero is a white ship's captain. Not sure what book six (12-06) will be, but I suspect I'll maintain the white heroine standard by using Little Pearl's brother and a white heroine. So, I suppose Desperate Tigress was an anomaly, but we had met Shi Po and her husband in the earlier books, so I took the risk. Hopefully, people will love the characters as much as I do, ethnicity aside.
How many future Tigress books are planned in this series and what are their release dates and titles
There are six in the series as of right now. But if the public wants more later, who am I to argue?
Tell us about your background which can help explain why you have set a series in China
My mother was born in Shanghai, China 1933. Incidentally, her grandmother had bound feet and she has talked to me about how difficult it was to care for them. Anyway, her father was the only man in China who knew how to build an airport during WWII. So they moved around a lot during her teen years. In fact, Hemmingway actually met my grandfather and wrote an article about him. After the war, during the communist revolution, the whole family (except eldest son) fled to Hong Kong. Eventually my mother got a scholarship to come to the United States to study. She met my father, fell in love, and they've lived in the US ever since. So, I've grown up on stories of mystical Shanghai and of the privations and difficulties during a war. It all fed into the stories I write now.
You're also part of Dorchester's 2005/2006 popular futuristic continuity series Crimson City with authors Liz Maverick, Marjorie M. Liu, Patti O'Shea and Carolyn Jewel and will have book five, Seduced By Crimson released in March 2006. Tell us a little about this series and how your book fits into the ongoing premise? Can it also be read as a stand alone book?
The Crimson City premise goes like this. Werewolves and vampires are part of the normal city life of Los Angeles, nicknamed Crimson City for the bloodshed that race wars sometimes spark. Werewolves live in the subway tunnels. Vamps live in really high high-rises. Then some human dingbat thought it would be cool to open a gate to the demon world Orcus. Oops! In Seduced by Crimson, my hero and heroine must close the demon gate before Los Angeles is overrun by demons. Like my tigress books, it's highly sensual and has a tantric concept of sex. The cool thing is that I got to use my contemporary voice and humor throughout. If the readers have half as much fun as I did writing it, they'll love the book. I certainly do! It's easily Jade's funniest book. It's also action-packed and hugely sensual. And yes, it absolutely can stand alone. All you have to know is that demons are invading Los Angeles and the back cover copy tells you that
Describe a typical day for you as an author.
Hunky guys massage my body awake while feeding me chocolate that tastes divine but doesn't add any weight to my 110 lb toned body. Then my alarm rings and I wake up. I drag myself out of bed to drive my cranky, bickering teens (who don't like morning any more than I do) to school. Then it's coffee, latte, espresso, and a slim-fast shake (I'm trying to diet) at a cafe with a writer friend of mine. We write like fiends for 5 minutes while we check our e-mail. Then we write like fiends after we gossip for a while. Then we write like fiends over lunch. Eventually, about 1:00 we split up and I go work-out. Racquetball, rollerblading, elliptical, treadmill, or a nap. Whatever sounds good. Then I watch my daughters in a volleyball, basketball, or soccer match, depending on the season. Listen to them bicker/bitch about school as they do homework and computer chats/instant messaging. Then it's television and bed&where those hunky massage guys await for me in my dreams!
In your bio on your website, it mentions you are an expert in racquetball, were ranked 10th in the nation for the 25 + age division and trained with Olympians. Do you keep up with your racquetball skills as a wife and mother of two teenage daughters and do you excel in other sports as well? Also, have your daughters inherited your sports or writing talent?
My knees (and schedule) won't let me compete at the Olympic level any more (wahhhhh!) but I do play at least 3 times a week. Even do local tournaments. Mostly I play so I can eat fattening stuff without breaking my office chair. And my daughters definitely are into sports, just not racquet sports. (Bttth!) Volleyball, basketball, and soccer. We are a sports family!
How can your fans contact you?
E-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and check my website www.jadeleeauthor.com for my appearances schedule.
Jade, I've so enjoyed conducting this interview but more importantly reading your terrific Tigress series which I hope you'll continue writing for many years to come!
Thank you! This has been a great deal of fun!
This interview for NewAndUsedBooks.com was conducted by: Pat Rouse, an author publicist, who networks with over 100 romance readers groups and bookstores in the U.S., Australia and England.