2007 Snapshot Archive: Kylie Chan

Interviewed by Kathryn Linge

First published at ASiF!

Kylie Chan is a relatively new writer, whose Dark Heavens Trilogy (White Tiger, Red Phoenix, Blue Dragon) was inspired by the years she lived in Hong Kong. Following on from its commercial success, she is now writing a second trilogy set some years later. Her website is: http://www.kyliechan.com/

1.The third book of your Dark Heavens Trilogy ‘Blue Dragon’ has just been released. Much of the background for the trilogy was inspired by the 10 years you spent living in Hong Kong. Are there any autobiographical elements in your work? How has the trilogy been received by the public and how do you feel now that all three books are out?

There are some autobiographical elements in the book, but more with the characters that the main character, Emma, meets in Hong Kong. Many of the characters – some good, some extremely nasty – are based on real-life people that I met and spent time with in Hong Kong. The characters of April, Louise, and Kitty Kwok particularly are very firmly based on people that I knew while working in Hong Kong.

The trilogy’s had an excellent reception by the public, and all three books are this week on Dymock’s top ten fantasy seller list. I receive a great deal of fan mail all the time and I wish I had time to answer it all. I’m delighted that so many people are enjoying my stories. How do I feel? I suppose I should feel accomplished and that I’ve reached a goal – but so many people are begging me to continue the stories that I feel pressured to produce the next trilogy as soon as I can!

2. Have you always wanted to write or is this a relatively new ambition? What was the process that led to your manuscript being picked up by Harper-Collins?

I’ve always written humorous travelogues and woven stories about my life for my friends. Writing fiction, however, was something that I never thought I could do. I was challenged to write a short story by a friend and discovered a vast hidden well of creative talent – I think I was surprised more than anyone.

The process that led to the manuscript being picked up was very interesting. The Queensland Writer’s Centre offered ‘Editorial Consultancies’ with Linda Funnell, chief editor at Harper-Collins. She came up to Brisbane for the day and was available for personal chats with aspiring writers. You paid a fee, gave ten pages of a manuscript, and she chose a select few for a personal interview for two hours of her precious time.

I was first on the day and she was extremely enthusiastic about my story. She gave me a list of publishers and agents to submit the story to, and suggested that she would like to see it as well, to pass it on to Stephanie Smith of Voyager.

Every single agent and publisher she suggested rejected my manuscript, but Harper-Collins themselves were willing to take me on and I suppose the rest is history.

3. You’re now writing a fourth book following on from the Dark Heavens trilogy? Should readers expect any major changes in this next chapter?

I’m writing the second trilogy, books four to six! Major changes – I suppose the major difference in the second trilogy is that Simone, who was six years old in the third book, is now fifteen years old, and growing into her role as the daughter of a god – who just wants to be an ordinary kid.

4. Enough about the writing, what’s the best thing you’ve read this year?

Oh there’s been so much wonderful fiction that I’ve read this year it’s hard to pick a winner. Fiona McIntosh’s ‘Percheron’ series and Jenn Fallon’s ‘Demon Child’ have kept me away from my work for far too long. The favorite for me though has to be Naomi Novik’s ‘Temeraire’ series so far, but I think that’s mainly because I have a huge soft spot for the ‘dragon as familiar’ type story.

5. Finally, and certainly most inappropriately, you’re given the opportunity to get it on with the fictional character you fancy most. Who will it be and why?

It would have to be a toss up between Jenn Fallon’s Damin Wolfblade and Fiona McIntosh’s Lazar. What a pair of hunks: well done, ladies. There are those who may be surprised that I haven’t included Xuan Wu but he’s really not my type, and neither is the White Tiger!

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