"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Children of mixed races have their own set of rules. As the daughter of a Shanghai native and a staunch Indiana Hoosier, Jade Lee struggled to find her own identity somewhere between America and China. Her search took her to regency England where the formality of culture hid a secret sensuality that fascinated her. But Devils Bargain was just the beginning for her. That same search adds a mystical element in her Tigress series beginning in Jan 2005 where she delves into the hidden sensuality of the Dragon/Tigress religious sect in pre-revolutionary China.
At home, her husband and two daughters try to ignore her stacks of zen sexual texts. Instead, they brag about her award-winning humor pseudonym – Kathy Greyle.
PNR: Can you tell us a little about how you started writing; was it something you have always wanted to do?
Jade L.: Actually, it never occurred to me that I could be a fiction writer until way late—during my first job as a tech writer. I understood school essays, I knew all about technical manuals and non-fiction articles. I just never thought I could write fiction. Then one day, I read a book with what I thought was a bad ending. As was my habit, I went for a walk after I’d finished it and rewrote the book in my head. I often did that (and still do) for movies and television too. Then I was hit by a lightning bolt of a Clue. Duh! I hated tech writing because it was boring. Why not try fiction? So off I ran in a fit of inspiration to write…a fantasy screenplay. Yeah, I wasn’t too bright, even then. It took me a LOOOONNNNGGGG time to think perhaps I ought to be writing what I love to read: romance novels. Duh. But then some of us take longer to catch a clue than others. Hopefully, I’ve got it right (and write) now!
PNR: Do you have a strict writing schedule? How do you balance your personal and writing time?
Jade L.: Balance? Is it possible to be balanced? I write every morning—yes, every morning, even weekends. It starts around 7ish when I inhale caffeine as quickly as possible. Then I usually meet a friend of mine—Elizabeth Hoyt—at a café where we share the days of our lives (gossip), talk about the publishing industry (work gossip), and then eventually start writing (because we’ve run out of gossip). We work on our latest manuscript, complain that it’s terrible, and generally force each other to write even though neither of us really wants to. We finish anywhere between noon and four depending on each other’s afternoon schedule and…here’s the key…how many pages we’ve written. I have a daily 7 page goal. Under tight deadlines it’s 10-12. During the planning stages, it’s 2 character sketches or some percentage of a plot. Unfortunately, I found that this schedule was a bit too much. So…I’ve finally resorted to…gasp…taking Sundays off. And now, necessity has forced me to take Saturdays off to…MASSIVE GASP…clean house. YUCK!
See there’s my ugly secret. I write because I’d rather do that than clean house.
PNR: Who or what has been your biggest influence as a writer?
Jade L.: You’re going to laugh yourself sick when I answer this. I was an English major in college so I’ve studied a lot of great, great writers. But honestly, the writer I most admire right now is Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, the awesome tv series Firefly and spin-off movie Serenity, plus a host of other amazing things.
He writes deep and powerful female characters, imaginative villains, great plotting, FABULOUS sense of humor. His timing is perfect, his dialogue is near perfect, and I just think he’s amazing. If I had more time, I’d sit and watch Firefly / Serenity from the beginning again just to analyze his writing. I learn something new every time.
PNR: You have been very successful writing historical romance as Katherine Greyle, and are now writing your paranormal titles as Jade Lee. What made you decide to add paranormal elements to your writing, was it a natural progression? Do you plan to continue writing historical romance?
Jade L.: Actually, I started out with a futuristic—Oracle—long before there was a label for what I was writing. I have always loved fantasy and wanted to add it magical elements to my writing, but when I started in romance there wasn’t a market for it. Now there is. YIPPEEE!!!!!!
PNR: WHITE TIGRESS was a finalist for Best Erotic Paranormal for 2005 PEARL Awards and your work is very popular with readers and reviewers; how does it feel to have such positive recognition for your work?
Jade L.: AWESOME. (Of course). Actually, I thought I’d done a great piece in White Tigress, but I wasn’t sure anyone else did. Just because I like using romance (and sex) to delve deep, deeper, deepest into the secrets of the people I create, doesn’t mean anyone else cares. But apparently, people do! Yeah! And…btw…before those unfamiliar with the Tigress series tune out, let me explain. Buddhism (in part) is a belief that one can raise the inner spirit enough to have a divine experience. Tantrics excite the inner spirit using sexual means. So…by falling in love and doing specific, conscious sexual acts, my characters raise their spirit enough to (a) confront their darkest demons and (b) touch the divine. Cool, huh? If only I could get my husband to sign on…
PNR: Your Tigress series is based on Chinese mythology. Could you give us a little background on The Cult of the Tigress? How much research was involved in writing the series?
Jade L.: I was wandering through my very favorite place—a museum bookstore. It happened to be the Asia Society Museum in Manhattan when a book literally fell on me. It was Hsi Lai’s The Sexual Teachings of the White Tigress. He’s got a couple books out that detail a Tantric cult in China that still exists today and has its roots at least a few hundred years back (if not a few thousand years, depending on who you ask). I was fascinated!
Okay, I’ll confess. I have issues with sex. Normal everyday neuroses about it, just like many people. Here was the perfect vehicle for (a) creating an awesome love story, (b) exploring sexual issues, (c) living out my perfect fantasy of sex so awesome it touches the divine, and (d) allowed me to write to my strengths—very sensuous romance. As a writer, I couldn’t ask for more!
PNR: Why do you feel mythology is such a popular theme in the paranormal romance genre?
Jade L.: Well, now you’re getting Deep (yes, I meant to capitalize that). Human beings have a need to create and tell stories—their own, someone else’s, the world’s. It could just be gossip, but the best stories touch something universal in all of all—something archetypal and maybe even mythological. We use those words when a story becomes less about the details and more about universal issues. My favorite stories, however, are those that combine both. We want first, a detailed story about, for example, Little Pearl and Capt. Jonas Storm (Cornered Tigress) where we fall in love with people and learn about their lives. But second, we want these stories to touch something universal in all of us, something ugly or beautiful, scary or divine. Whatever it is, we need to experience it. At that level of abstract, it becomes mythology. So…great stories combine both—the detailed gossip and the mythological how-it-relates-to-me.
PNR: Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do you balance these two elements?
Jade L.: Plot? I have a plot? Yes, actually, I do have a plot, but I create characters first. I’ve got to talk about somebody, and if they’re not all that interesting to me, then why the heck would I want to spend months following them around? So it’s characters first—complete with multiple levels of secrets and fears and neuroses. Then I throw them in a bizarre situation and watch them run around. And since all my characters have something to learn—it’s kinda a theme with me—that growth arc helps drive the plot. Ergo…I have no balance. I have people! Who happen to do things! Because I throw them into the middle of a flood and scream: Swim! Wow, I’m a cruel, horrible woman, aren’t I?
PNR: Your books feature strong heroines that readers really connect to, would you describe your writing as female focused? What is their appeal for readers?
Jade L.: I’m female. Most of my readers are female. And I confess, I like stepping into the shoes of my heroines and having all those crazy, amazing, terrifying and wonderful experiences. So I can’t write boring women because who wants to step into the shoes of a boring woman?
PNR: Could you tell us a little about how you develop your characters? Who has been your favorite character to write? The most challenging?
Jade L.: Okay, now you’re getting technical. For my heroes and heroines, I create detailed histories including 10 significant life events and 10 things the characters wouldn’t do. I also write down 3 deep and dark secrets or fears, throw in an imagery set, and pray it works. That means pray that I can feel who he or she is. If I can’t, I reach for the one thing that always saves my bacon: coffee. And more *$&#$# character charts. Eventually, I’ll feel like I know the person I’m writing about, and wham…I’m off for more coffee and my laptop as I start writing.
As for my favorites—wow, they’re all my favorites. I like them all for a variety of different reasons, and hate them all for, usually, the exact same reason. Some were easy to write, others difficult. Some were really lovable, others not so much. My heroes have to be sexy enough for me to fall in love with, but beyond that, they can (and often are) annoying doofuses too.
PNR: In January 2007 CORNERED TIGRESS was released from Dorchester, this is the fifth title in your Tigress erotic romance series. Could you give readers a peek at this latest offering? What are your plans for the “Tigress” series?
Jade L.: Cornered Tigress is Little Pearl’s story. We’ve seen her in the previous books as (a) an extraordinarily accomplished tigress but also (b) a rather bitter and angry little thing. But why? Why is she so very, very ticked off? And what is her hidden vulnerability? Honestly, when I began writing her in the other books, I didn’t really care. I just needed someone who was really good at her job and yet was also very angry for some reason. But the more I wrote her, the more interested I became. What exactly was her past? And could I discover it in a dramatic way? So…I basically threw her into a horrible jam and offered her two men, both very sexy in their own way. One man represented what she always known and thought she wanted. The other man was a barbarian ape who challenged everything she ever thought she knew. Reminds me of my husband on his most annoying days. Anyway…that’s the set-up for Cornered Tigress.
As for what’s coming in the future, Tempted Tigress will be out in June 2007. It’s the sixth and possibly last of the tigress books just because I need a break from them. (E-mail me if you desperately want more!) Tempted Tigress is a lot more action adventure, a lot grittier than my earlier books, and has an edge to it that works nicely with the adventure aspect. Don’t worry, I still have some rather unique and unusual sexual scenes, and of course, the divinely amazing one, too!
PNR: You have written in the paranormal genre with the Tigress series and titles in the Crimson City series, both from Dorchester. What is it about this genre that captures your imagination? Is there a genre you haven’t written but would like to try?
Jade L.: I TRIED EVERYTHING! Screenplays (amateurish), mystery (really bad), YA (I was pregnant and sappy), comedy (see books by Katherine Greyle), fantasy (too much romance), and yes…the dreaded non-fiction (BORING). Say it with me: catch a clue Jade. Write what you love. And so I did—romance with a hint of paranormal, or romance with a lot MORE than a hint of paranormal. I love the idea of tooling along in your normal day only to be hit from the side by something fantastic…or fantastical. Take your pick!
Eventually, I’m going to write a contemporary Chinese ghost story. Yes, it’ll be a romance because I really do believe that love makes everything better. But it will also be dark and sensual and Chinese. Do I have an idea beyond that? Uh…no. But I will…
PNR: You wrote SEDUCED BY CRIMSON, the fifth book in the wildly popular Crimson City series, and have a short in the new SHARDS OF CRIMSON anthology released in January 2007. Could you tell us how you became involved in the project? What was it like working with so many other talented authors?
Jade L.: Say it with me: I am LUCKY!!!!! Yes, LUCKY ME!!!! One of the early authors in Crimson City dropped out. As the deadline was tight and I write fast, the editor—Chris Keeslar—asked if I would be interested in filling in. My agent forcibly restrained me from leaping across the table screaming, YES!!!! She answered for me with a, “Hmmm, that sounds interesting. Perhaps Jade would be interested if the terms were right…” Thank God I have an agent or I would have paid them to let me write it.
As for what it’s like—it’s great! When creative people get together, ideas just spark and we bounce around and get giddy. It’s like being on espresso without the mocha calories! And btw, if you want more Crimson City books…just email Liz Maverick. Let her know!
PNR: Please tell us about the projects you are currently working on; what can readers expect to see in the coming months?
Jade L.: I’ve been recruited by Blaze to write a contemporary Tantric book for them. My title is Yang Fire, but I have no idea what it will ultimately be published under. (Harlequin has a great many restrictions on titles that I am totally clueless about). I’m having fun writing contemporary right now, and I’m also shopping a couple new series ideas. We’ll just have to see what hits!
PNR: Thank you, Jade, for taking time out to speak with us. Where can readers find out what's new and how can they contact you?
Jade L.: My website is: www.jadeleeauthor.com (yes, I had to put the author in there because, guess what, turns out there really is a porn star with my same name). And feel free to e-mail me anytime at: firstname.lastname@example.org
January 1, 2007
Read the Review!
Tigress Series #5
The dragon, raging and hungry.
The tiger, sleek and cunning.
Man and woman, yin & yang, partners meant for Heaven.
The white man arrived before sundown, and the storm clouds thickening the sky made him appear an ugly baboon growling at the rain. But Little Pearl's missing master owed him money, and Little Pearl owed the Tans. They had saved her from abject poverty and disgrace, set her feet on the Taoist path. And so, barbarian or not, Captain Jonas Storm was welcome here. His eyes were a strange kaleidoscope of blue and green and brown, and in their alien depths, Little Pearl saw the impossible promise of paradise. Could it be true? Even with the shadows growing in the Empire, Heaven was within reach—and this barbarian could take her there.
Tigress Series #4
Charlotte Wicks wanted more. Running her parents' Shanghai household and caring for her sick brother was necessary drudgery, but a true 19th-century woman deserved something deeper; her body cried out for it! Through the Taoist method, her friend Joanna Crane had reached Heaven on Earth, become a Tigress, found true bliss. Why should Charlotte be denied the same? She'd seen the scrolls. All she needed was guidance.
Her mother would call her wanton. Wicked. She would label Charlotte's curiosity evil, and invoke divine judgment. Certainly the teacher Charlotte desired was fearsome. Glimpses of his body inspired awe: flutters in the stomach and tingling in her core. And with the dark command she saw in his eyes, if she opened this door it might never be closed. The man had a reputation among the females of the city as a ruthless seducer…but also as a bringer of great pleasure. There was only one choice to make.
Tigress Series #3
ON PLEASURE’S PATH The final step was release. Shi Po had devoted her life to the Taoist ideal: enlightenment through ecstasy, through rigid control of the body and mind. The kiss, the caress, the bite, the scratch—these were the stairs to Immortality. Up, up, up one would climb, through yin rain and yang fire until… But Heaven had been denied her. Two barbarians, white women, had been granted everything; Joanna Crane and Lydia Smith had found Immortality. Shi Po, 19th-century Shanghai’s most famous teacher and abbess, its greatest Tigress, had not.
And so it was time to die.
Only one man stood in her way: Tan Kui Yu. His fingers, his lips, his dragon. He swore he and Shi Po would attain Heaven even if he had to pleasure her every day—and night—for the rest of their lives. He had other ideas as well; things that had never occurred to the woman who had done it all. Perhaps, he said, it was not just about making love, but about feeling it.
For a complete list of Jade's work visit her website
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