Traverser of realms, dreamer, dabbler in all things fantastical – Katje explores worlds where HEAs are possible for everyone (but maybe especially for short fluffy Chinese girls like herself).
Be it star-crossed lovers in magical ancient China, dragon shifters searching for a new homeworld in space jellyfish, sweet shy nerd boys, lovers who’ve missed the happy boat six lifetimes in a row, or the odd goddess or two, her goal is to make sure everyone ends up successfully gathering their party before venturing forth into a world where all things end happily.
Growing up with traditional Taiwanese parents meant I internalized a lot of supernatural stuff in the guise of “this is just how it is” and “this is how it’s always been done”. Your ancestors watch over you. You pray to the local Grandfather Earth when you want to find a home or sell a house. Everything gains a sentient spirit if you keep it around long enough, even (especially?) your hair. Finding the science fiction and fantasy section in bookstores as a kid was like slipping into a cozy hoodie, warm from the dryer. So in a sense, fantasy is simply a part of being – I find it very hard to write contemporary anything. Romance because it probably saved my life multiple times over. I’ve struggled with crippling depression since I was a child and retreating into fantasy and romance helped keep hope alive. There’s at least two people doing the right things for the right reasons who end up with a good ending – there’s little more encouraging than that.
What is your favourite part of the writing process? What is the most challenging part?
Brainstorming where the plot goes with friends and then slapping everything down is the best part. Sometimes the most unexpcted gems just spill out when bouncing ideas off people and it’s a gorgeous, wonderful thing. The most challenging part is probably deciding when’s a good time to let the story out into the world. There’s always a point when I’m done, so done, but I’m still uncertain about whether the story is ready. Even having the best editors doesn’t help, because it’s impossible to please everyone and writing definitely falls into the camp where too many cooks spoil the broth.
What drew you to self-publishing?
Having a cover drawn by phoenixlu is the glib answer. I’ve always loved the dreamy covers on Chinese romance novels, especially the ones set in ancient China, with the long flowing robes, fantastical hair arrangements, and that fierce gorgeousness. When I first debated querying or self-publishing back in 2005, I knew that the chances for my getting a cover that fit my visions of the story were low and it would have broken my heart to have gotten a white-washed cover or some generic stock option with kimono and fans and whatnot. I’d also gotten pushback about how “unrelentingly” Chinese the story was. Estyria was both too Chinese and not ethnic enough and why on Earth did Seth have green eyes when his mother was Mongolian and his father Han? So being anxious, I decided to just do it all myself.
Taiwan has great food. Do you have a favourite writing spot and/or writing snack or food that you would recommend?
Taiwan has so many wonderful cafes. Some whimsical, others are miniature sanctuaries, and so many of them have hot chocolate (my caffeine of choice), free wifi, and actual meals. Perfection for showing up and just staying the entire day without guilt over desserts instead of real food. Red-wine braised beef over rice, anyone? If anyone is visiting Taipei and wants a list, I can totally furnish one, especially near the Gongguan area where National Taiwan University is.
To be perfectly honest though, I mostly stay at home and drink lots of Hakka leicha. It’s a drink made from grinding tea leaves and various nuts and grains into a powder and then adding hot water/milk. Lei means to grind and cha is tea. I’ll usually add heaping spoonfuls of black sesame butter to this and have it for a meal. Easy, filling, fast, and just a cup and spoon to wash. Pure joy when deadlines are looming or when I’m too in the flow to think about actual meals.
What are you working on at the moment? What should readers keep an eye out for in the future?
I’m currently editing a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty involving dragon shifters, mentions space jellyfish, and where the prick comes from a prick, if you get what I mean.
Thanks Katje for reaching out for an interview!
Readers can find Katje a.k.a Ekaterine Xia on social media:
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Ekaterine-Xia/e/B00NVSHF7Y/
Website and blog: www.ekaterinexia.com