AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT – Sue Lynn Tan (DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS)
Sue Lynn Tan writes fantasy inspired by the myths and legends she fell in love with as a child. Born in Malaysia, she studied in London and France, before settling in Hong Kong with her family. Her love for stories began with a gift from her father, a compilation of fairytales from around the world, and she spent much of her childhood lost in magical worlds. When not writing or reading, she can be found exploring the hills, lakes and temples around her home.
Welcome to the Hive, Sue Lynn. Let’s start with the basics: tell us a little bit about Daughter of the Moon Goddess – why should readers check it out?
Thank you so much for having me!
Daughter of the Moon Goddess is a fantasy of immortals, magic, and love, inspired by the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese moon goddess—in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm. There is romance, adventure, and dragons, one of my favourite mythical creatures.
Tell us a little something about your writing process – do you have a certain method? Do you find music helps? Give us a glimpse into your world!
I write an initial draft to make sure the key plot points are there, then I tend to follow my instincts—the characters evolving, as the story develops. I work anywhere I can set my laptop on, and which is relatively peaceful. Music helps me get into a particular mood, though I generally prefer writing in silence, whether early in the morning or late at night.
What inspired you to write a retelling of the mythological moon goddess Chang’e? What first drew you to this tale?
The legend of Chang’e is one of my favourite myths, often retold during the annual Mid-Autumn festival. Chang’e was married to the archer Houyi, who shot the nine suns destroying the mortal world. He was gifted an elixir which would grant him immortality but did not take it, as he wanted to remain with his wife. Yet Chang’e drank it instead, becoming immortal and flying to the moon. Her story fascinated me, though I was also saddened by her tragic separation from her husband. I often wondered whether Chang’e had another reason for doing so, and it was this idea which inspired Daughter of the Moon Goddess.
It’s such a great story to tell, Sue Lynn.
What (or who) are your most significant fantasy/sci-fi influences? Are there any creators whom you dream of working with someday?
I will happily read anything by Madeline Miller, Holly Black, and Stephanie Garber. I also love the works of S.A. Chakraborty, Shelley Parker-Chan, and Andrea Stewart, and it would be an honour to work with any of them.
Ahh we’re big fans of SA Chakraborty and Andrea Stewart too.
We see such varying opinions from authors when it comes to the time of editing their books. How have you found the editing process? Enjoyable, stressful or satisfying?
I like editing. There is a satisfaction to going through the manuscript again and refining it, trying to imagine how it can be made better—although that also depends on whether you’re looking at it for the second or sixth time! Deadlines also impact how stressful the experience can be and if time allows, my preference is to have enough time to be able to step back and think about the story.
We always appreciate a beautiful book cover, and both your US and UK covers are stunning! How involved in the process were you? Was there a particular aesthetic you hoped they’d portray?
I’m so glad you like them! My dream cover was one which reflected the beauty of the world Daughter of the Moon Goddess is set in, a realm of enchantment and peril. I was fortunate to be involved in the process and to have such amazing artists illustrate the covers—Kuri Huang for the US cover, and Jason Chuang for the UK cover—and I could not be more grateful to them for their incredible work.
Can you tell us a bit more about your characters? Was Xingyin an easy main protagonist to develop or did you come across any stumbling blocks? Do you have a favourite type of character you enjoy writing?
Xingyin has been described as “flawed but full of heart”, and she is intelligent, resilient, and hopeful. She knows her own self-worth, is passionate about her endeavours, and though she can be reckless, she also grows from her mistakes. While she has her own principles, she is also not afraid to bend the rules to make her way. I loved writing her, and though this may sound a little strange, I found myself inspired by her, too.
It’s amazing when a character impacts you so deeply whilst you’re writing their scenes.
As Daughter of the Moon Goddess is my debut, I am still learning about the types of characters I enjoy writing. My preferences right now veer toward characters who are the “underdog”, who don’t have all the answers, who stumble and fall, yet persevere. I also like those with a shade of grey to them, not wholly good or bad, but flawed as in real life.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write. How do you choose to spend the day?
It’s been a really busy few months with editing the sequel, and the release for Daughter of the Moon Goddess—and work has kept me at home most days. If I have some time where I don’t have to write or work, I would love to spend it outdoors with my family and friends.
One of our favourite questions here on the Fantasy Hive: which fantastical creature would you ride into battle and why?
A phoenix! I was thinking about a dragon at first, but Chinese dragons typically don’t have wings and I might feel a little vulnerable flying on one—whereas a phoenix has wings which feels a little safer, or at least would provide something to clutch on to. I don’t think I’d survive long on either, though.
You’d probably need to befriend a phoenix first, they seem quite feisty!
Tell us about a book you love. Any hidden gems?
I tend to read mainly fantasy books – both Adult and YA – with a preference for character-driven stories, and I also enjoy a good romance. Some stories I have read and loved recently include Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan, The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid and Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber.
Are you planning anything fun to celebrate your new release? Do you have any upcoming virtual events our readers may be interested in?
I plan on doing something where I live, though sadly my mother and sister won’t be here due to covid travel restrictions. There are some virtual events lined up and I generally update these on my Instagram.
You can find Sue Lynn on Instagram HERE
Finally, what is the one thing you hope readers take away from your writing?
My favourite stories growing up were set in worlds which I wished were real, with characters I wanted to meet. I hope Daughter of the Moon Goddess will sweep readers away for a few hours to a realm of wonder and beauty, though one, rife with danger, too. And I hope some readers will find Xingyin’s journey empowering, one of resilience, courage, and of hope.
That’s wonderful, thank you so much for joining us, Sue Lynn.
Daughter of the Moon Goddess is out from Harper Voyager on 20th January 2022.
It is available for pre-order – find your favourite retailer HERE