A Q & A with Roselle Lim

I was fortunate enough to read Roselle Lim’s début novel, Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune a few months before its release date. In case you haven’t already done so, please check out my review of the book here.

Anyway, when I was asked by Penguin Random House Canada (the publisher) if I was interested in doing an author interview, I jumped at the opportunity to feature an Asian and local author on my blog! Keeping with the theme of luck, I decided to keep it to just eight questions since eight is a lucky number in Chinese astrology. So without further delay, here is a Q&A post with Roselle. Enjoy!

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1. Firstly, if you were to describe Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune using only 3-8 emojis, what would they be?

2. Natalie’s story begins with her return to her old Chinatown neighbourhood, have you ever been to San Francisco’s Chinatown? If so, what are your suggestions on what to see and do?

I visited San Francisco’s Chinatown once as a child, but I’ve been to many Chinatowns in Canada, US, and Asia. In fact, I grew up in Manila’s Chinatown! If possible, ask the locals where they get dumplings. Food is the best way to introduce yourself to the culture and area.

After you’ve eaten, go to the paifang and begin exploring the shops, walking everywhere. Go slow. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells.

3. There is an obvious magical realism element in Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune. What was your favourite Chinese ghost story and/or superstition growing up, and has adulthood changed the way you see it now?

Don’t sleep with exposed feet facing a window; otherwise, a ghost or spirit will yank you by the toes and eat you! My mother also convinced me to jump up and down to grow taller. I look back on these superstitions with mirth and a sense of wonder. Still, I only sleep with my feet facing a wall.

4. Family especially the mother-daughter relationship in addition to the family that you choose is a major theme in your book, did you draw upon any of your own relationships in real life for inspiration when writing these characters?

As much as I’d like to say that these characters are family members in disguise, they aren’t. Family is complicated. Often times, I write about relationships I wish I had. The book’s characters embody people I have met and are bits and pieces of strangers I’ve spoken with. Celia and the others embody the community in north Scarborough I called home.

5. Food is of course central to Natalie Tan’s story, how did you decide which recipes to include in the book? And which ones are your favourites?

The recipes are my father’s and they are my childhood favourites. I love food and knew it had to be an invisible, yet palpable, secondary character in the novel. I remembered how I felt eating them. Those feelings dictated which recipe to use in each scene.

While, I love them all, I have a soft spot for the fresh spring rolls. It was such a comfort food growing up.

6. As a fellow foodie and as someone who used to live in Toronto, I’ve also got to ask what are your go to recommendations for must try food places in and around the City?

Oh my goodness, where do I even begin?

  • Fishman’s Clubhouse for their epic tower of king crab and lobster.
  • Saigon Star in Markham for curry crab.
  • Izakaya Guu downtown for delicious Japanese bar food.
  • Casa Manila for excellent Filipino food midtown.
  • Cafe Demetres for dessert and delicious crepes.
  • Destiny Tea House for bubble tea and tasty Taiwanese snacks.
7. Music also has a major role in the story, and I love that your book has its own playlist. Were these the songs that you listened to while working on the book or were they just the music that inspired Natalie’s story?

Most are songs I listened to while working. Classical music establishes mood, tempo, and atmosphere, while operas provide emotion. The overall feel of the playlist is to convey a soft sense of romance. It isn’t a jubilant declaration so much as a wish—a hope to experience love as Natalie sees it. Teresa Teng, however, is a relic from my childhood as she was my parent’s favourite singer.

8. And finally, can you tell us anything about what you’re currently working on at the moment or any upcoming projects?

Book Two is set in Paris and it involves Evelyn Yu, the fortuneteller in Natalie Tan. I’m working on revisions and hope to be done soon.

Book Review | Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley

Sarah Raughley
ARC, 353 pages
Publication date:
November 22nd 2016
Simon Pulse
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The moment I heard it about a book that was pitched for fans of Sailor Moon, and Avatar in addition to featuring a group of kick butt female leads, I was in and Fate of Flames became probably my most anticipated YA title from Simon and Schuster’s fall catalogue.

Fate of Flames is about four girls who all have control over an element resembling fire, water, or air. What’s intriguing about these girls is that there are always four of them, when one dies, another girl comes into her powers in addition to all the memories of her predecessors. This brings us to our protagonist, Maia whose effigy powers awaken during a lockdown at her school. This causes her to realize that her predecessor, the fire effigy has Natalya has died. She is at that point quickly thrust into the world of the effigies and fighting phantoms.

What I enjoyed about Fate of Flames was that it incorporated modern elements in a fantasy/science fiction story. Social media is a major element in the story, as are online forums which Maia tends to go on even before she became an effigy. I also liked the fact that Maia existed as a fangirl before she became an effigy as it makes this more relatable. Interestingly enough, I think the book took a realistic approach to how someone who is a fangirl transition into become one of the “heroes” they looked up to. Maia is definitely out her comfort zone, and it was refreshing to have a protagonist who doesn’t just easily adapt into her new powers and her role as a fighter, especially since it’s clear that Maia did not have any pre-existing badass attributes or abilities. Unfortunately, not much happens in Fate of Flames, the reader is thrown a great deal of history/backstory and information with little explanation. Furthermore, there isn’t much fighting until the near the conclusion of this book. Maia, the protagonist is incredibly useless for the majority of the book and instead her role is relegated to gathering the other effigies. Once the four girls, Belle, Lake and Chae Rin are gathered that’s when the story proceeds to move forward.

Overall as a first book in a trilogy, I’d consider Fate of Flames to be a decent read. I just hope all the hints, back stories, and mysteries lead up to a thrilling and satisfying story. My interest is definitely piqued, at least for book two which I hope will focus more on the girls learning to work more effectively as a team. Fate of Flames is a book for those who desire a female group focused fantasy novel that is refreshingly light on the romance.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.