Having absolutely adored Daughter of the Moon Goddess, I knew I had to see if Sue Lynn Tan would accept my interview request. And she did! This adult fantasy debut is immersive and emotional and I need the sequel now! Keep reading to find out all my burning questions.
Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the feared Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.
Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the emperor’s son, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the prince.
To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.
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About the Interview
One of the themes you explore in DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS is the idea of stories and truth. Can you talk about this theme and what it was like to explore the mutability and variances in stories?
DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS is inspired by the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese moon goddess. Chang’e was married to Houyi, the archer who shot the nine suns. Houyi was gifted an elixir of immortality but did not drink it, as he did not want to be parted from his wife. Yet Chang’e drank it instead, becoming immortal and flying to the moon.
While researching the legend, I was struck by its variations: Was Chang’e originally an immortal or mortal? Did she drink the elixir to save the people from a tyrannical Houyi, or to save it from thieves, or did she want to become a goddess? And in the end, did she reunite with her husband or live out her eternal years in solitude on the moon? Perhaps the variations morphed to portray Chang’e in a different light, though we will never know the answer. What is certain is that she is a much-loved figure, and one that I adore myself.
I loved the motherhood relationships in DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS, how was it to write Xingyin’s relationship with her mother and her family?
Xingyin’s love for her mother is the driving force behind her ambition to return home, and free her. Their bond is especially close because the moon is a solitary place, and they only have each other for company, along with a single attendant. It is not always a smooth relationship for Chang’e is dealing with heartbreak from her separation from her husband, and there are things that she is reluctant to share. Yet Xingyin is empathic and compassionate, and considerate of her mother’s feelings.
What is your favorite, and least favorite, quality in Xingyin?
I love Xingyin’s resilience and hope. When she faces devastation and disappointment, she does despair like anyone might, but does not yield to it. Yet her nature can be reckless and impatient, particularly for things she finds hard or which she is eager for.
Is there a side character you love and wish you could have spent more time with?
Shuxiao is a wonderful friend, someone who is loyal and not judgmental. She is confident without being arrogant and a ray of light to those who know her. While she can be blunt, it is usually well-intentioned with her friend’s best interests at heart.
What was the most challenging process of drafting and editing?
I tend to find drafting more challenging than editing—figuring out the story at the same time as developing the characters, although it is also the most exciting stage. For me, it is a slower process, with a lot of back and forth. I enjoy editing, refining the story and thinking about how it can be made better, although it depends on the deadline as well.
Did you have to do research for DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS and if so, what did you learn but couldn’t include?
I studied the different variations of the legend of Chang’e and Houyi, though I could not include them all in the story. I also researched archery – the materials of ancient bows, an archer’s posture, the sound the arrows made as they sliced through the air. I especially loved researching Chinese dragons which are quite different from their Western counterparts: though equally as powerful, they are typically wingless, creatures of water, benevolent and kind.
I loved watching Xingyin’s character unfold especially as she begins to come into her own, what was the most surprising part about writing her character?
Xingyin is a skilled archer with strong magic, but of equal importance is her intelligence and emotional depth—her ability to empathize with her enemies, even those she despises, to try to understand their motivations.
Were there any other titles you liked or had considered?
Daughter of the Moon Goddess was the first and only title I considered for the book, one of the few things which remained unchanged throughout the many rounds of editing. Something about it felt right from the start, capturing both the heart and spirit of the story.
About the Author
Sue Lynn Tan writes fantasy novels 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 debut Daughter of the Moon Goddess will be published by Harper Voyager in January 2022, with a sequel to come.
Find her on Instagram and Twitter @SuelynnTan, or on her website www.suelynntan.com.