Exclusive Interview: “Daughter Of Calamity” Author Rosalie M. Lin


Rosalie M. Lin isn’t the first writer to draw from her own life, and she won’t be last. And while many of them will fudge a few details here and there, Lin went full pound of chocolately goodness by moving her story to the 1930s.

In the following email interview, Lin talks about what inspired and influenced her new historical fantasy novel, Daughter Of Calamity (hardcover, Kindle, audiobook).

Rosalie M. Lin Daughter Of Calamity

Photo Credit: Natalie Jane Photography


To start, what is Daughter Of Calamity about, and when and where is it set?

Daughter Of Calamity is an adult historical fantasy novel set in 1930s Shanghai about a cabaret dancer who uncovers an underground trade of women’s faces and sets out to stop it.

Where did you get the idea for Daughter Of Calamity?

I was inspired to write Daughter Of Calamity when I was moonlighting as a pole dancer in college. Leaving the club at 3am in the mornings, I would wait for my taxi home on the steps of the nearby temple, which was ancient and silent and seemed to be watching. I thought a lot about the juxtaposition between the flashing clubs blasting EDM and the sleeping temples between them, and a seed was planted.

So, is there a reason why you set it in Shanghai in the ’30, as opposed to, say, Harlem in the ’30s or Las Vegas in the ’70s or some other time and place where there’s showgirls and gangsters? Or, for that matter, when and where you danced?

I picked Shanghai in the 1930s because the city was glamorous and full of opportunity, drawing misfits, villains, businessmen, and artists from all around the world. However, there’s also a shadowy darkness that belies the glamor — which stems from the fact Shanghai was partitioned between 11 different nations after the First Opium War. The brightest parts of the city were the direct effects of colonialism. There is something terribly ironic about that.

Similarly, is there a significance to Jingwen’s grandma being the gang’s surgeon as opposed to their accountant or personal chef or some other member of their support staff?

As the gang’s surgeon, Jingwen’s grandma has the power to make silver limbs for them. This places her in a unique position of power where the gang is depending on her. She is their equal.

Daughter Of Calamity is your first novel, but I’m guessing it’s not the first thing you’ve written. What writers do you consider to be the biggest influences on your style as a whole?

I love the way Jacqueline Carey writes and builds worlds. When I was younger, influences included Neal Stephenson, Chuck Palahniuk, and Cassandra Clare. My style has evolved a lot since then though. After college, where I majored in Comparative Literature, a lot of my writing is inspired by Chinese fiction and poetry. I just love how lyrical yet precise the language and metaphors are.

But also, Daughter Of Calamity was inspired by Yokomitsu Riichi and Mu Shiying, who are both postmodernist writers who centered Shanghai in their work. They are both heavily atmospheric in their writing style.

How about non-literary influences; was Daughter Of Calamity influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games?

I’m a visual thinker, and Daughter Of Calamity was stylistically influenced by movies I watched. For example, I loved the way symbolism was incorporated into small details of the setting of Blade Runner, and also the atmosphere of Wong Kar Wai’s films like 2046.

And what about your cat? What influence did they have on Daughter Of Calamity?

I have a mischievous, loud, and food-motivated dilute tortoiseshell kitty named Luna. She did everything she could to make sure Daughter Of Calamity was never finished.



Now, I can see Daughter Of Calamity being a stand-alone novel, or the first of many stories set in Shanghai’s criminal underworld in the 1930s….

Daughter Of Calamity is a stand-alone. A new world is created at the end, but I wanted to leave that world’s possibilities and follies to the reader’s imagination.

However, in the future, I might write a companion novel set in San Francisco Chinatown.

I asked earlier if Daughter Of Calamity was influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games. But to flip the script, as you kids don’t say anymore, do you think Calamity could work as a movie, TV show, or game?

I think Daughter Of Calamity could be a great TV show, [and] if the opportunity came, I would love to work on it There are so many intricacies to the world that I would love to explore further.

And if that happened, who would you want them to cast as Jingwen, her grandma, and the other main characters?

I would be honored if Sandra Oh [Killing Eve] or Michelle Yeoh [Everything Everywhere All At One] played Jingwen’s grandma. Lana Condor [To All The Boys: Always And Forever] would make a great Jingwen, and Jennie from Blackpink would slay as Beibei.

Rosalie M. Lin Daughter Of Calamity

Finally, if someone enjoys Daughter Of Calamity, what historical fantasy novel of someone else’s would you suggest people check out next?

She Who Became The Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan is brilliantly written and hard to put down.

I also highly recommend Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel for the fascinating examination of myth.



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