If you read my review of Red Thread of Fate, you’ll know I quickly became obsessed. I asked if I could interview the author, Lyn Liao Butler, and my request was granted! So here are my burning questions upon finishing and a behind the scenes look for y’all!
Two days before Tam and Tony Kwan receive their letter of acceptance for the son they are adopting from China, Tony and his estranged cousin Mia are killed unexpectedly in an accident. A shell-shocked Tam learns she is named the guardian to Mia’s five-year-old daughter, Angela. With no other family around, Tam has no choice but to agree to take in the girl she hasn’t seen since the child was an infant.
Overwhelmed by her life suddenly being upended, Tam must also decide if she will complete the adoption on her own and bring home the son waiting for her in a Chinese orphanage. But when a long-concealed secret comes to light just as she and Angela start to bond, their fragile family is threatened. As Tam begins to unravel the events of Tony and Mia’s past in China, she discovers the true meaning of love and the threads that bind her to the family she is fated to have.
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Let’s first talk structure, how was it to create the unfolding narrative of Mia’s journal while also telling Tam’s story at the same time? Did you approach it by writing all of Mia’s chapters first and then weaving them in? Was this decision present from the beginning?
I had a LOT of trouble with the structure of this book. It was originally written in three parts, with Tam’s POV in Parts 1 and 3, and Mia from the dead in Part 2. But agents I queried didn’t like the structure, including Rachel Brooks, who eventually became my agent on my debut book. When we were on sub with Book 1, Rachel and I brainstormed to see how I could restructure it. It took a lot of tries before I settled on writing it from both Tam and Mia’s POV in Part 1, and then weaving in Mia’s journal in Part 2. The journal was originally one long part so I had to decide where to break it up and how to weave it into the present timeline of Tam being in China. My editor told me it was brilliant so I guess it worked. J
I absolutely loved the plot and the action that kept me reading, did you always know the ‘twists’ or the ending from the beginning? How did this story first come to you?
I had a general idea of how I wanted to plot the story, but a lot of those twists took me by surprise too. They kind of wrote themselves. The only part I started off knowing and that stuck was who Angela’s father was. That wasn’t supposed to be a main twist though, as I think I dropped enough hints for readers to figure it out fairly quickly. The main twists for me was finding out what Tam’s been hiding, how the accident really happened, and Mia’s past in China.
Tam’s relationship with her mother was one of my favorite elements, was this present in all drafts of the book? Did any side characters undergo many changes during revision? Do you have a favorite one? Angela might be my favorite one!
Yes, Tam’s mom was always exactly the same in every draft – lol. She is a typical Asian mother – always criticizing but at the heart, she really just wants what’s best for her children. The character who changed the most was probably Adam. The way I’d originally written him, early readers said he felt kind of creepy – and that was not my intention at all! I had to work to make sure he was doing things in a caring and as a “friends” way, and not preying on a recent widow. And I think my favorite character was Stella the dachshund. She was the easiest to write!
How do you think Mia and Tam differ and are similar? Because while this is definitely a story about Tam, it is also about Mia and her life. Do you have a favorite between them?
Tam and Mia are both flawed characters. They’ve both done things they aren’t proud of but they are also very real. One of my biggest challenges was writing them so that they were sympathetic—that even though they’ve done some horrible things, there was a reason why they did it. We all make mistakes, sometimes big ones because of our motivations and I wanted to portray that. Mia for me was easier to write for some reason. I had more trouble with Tam because she is a shy, awkward character and it was hard to get readers to like her.
I absolutely love the cover and as someone who has read the book, it’s full of little touches. Can you explain it for new readers? Do you have a favorite element of the cover?
My favorite is the dachshund (can you tell I’m a dachshund lover?). I love how they put Angela and Stella in the middle, with Tam and Mia on opposite corners. You have the mountains in China, the big cities and also a scene depicting New York (I think. I’m actually not sure about some of the elements on the cover!). All tied together with the red thread weaving through. It was originally bright yellow, but I like this rendition better.
About the Author
Lyn Liao Butler was born in Taiwan and moved to the States when she was seven. Before becoming an author, she was a professional ballet and modern dancer, and is still a personal trainer, fitness instructor, and yoga instructor. She is an avid animal lover and fosters dogs as well as volunteers with rescues.
When she is not torturing clients or talking to imaginary characters, Lyn enjoys spending time with her FDNY husband, their son (the happiest little boy in the world), their three stubborn dachshunds (Lokie, Mochi, Cash, and Pinot in heaven), sewing for her Etsy shop, and trying crazy yoga poses on a stand-up paddleboard. So far, she has not fallen into the water yet.