Tuesday 31 July 2018

Book Spotlight ~ Wings of a Flying Tiger by Iris Yang #NankingMassacre #China #mustread @IrisYang86351

Wings of a Flying Tiger

By Iris Yang

In the summer of 1942, Danny Hardy bails out of his fighter plane into a remote region of western China. With multiple injuries, malaria, and Japanese troops searching for him, the American pilot’s odds of survival are slim.

Jasmine Bai, an art student who had been saved by Americans during the notorious Nanking Massacre, seems an unlikely heroine to rescue the wounded Flying Tiger. Daisy Bai, Jasmine’s younger cousin, also falls in love with the courageous American.

With the help of Daisy’s brother, an entire village opens its arms to heal a Flying Tiger with injured wings, but as a result of their charity the serenity of their community is forever shattered. 

Love, sacrifice, kindness, and bravery all play a part in this heroic tale that takes place during one of the darkest hours of Chinese history.


Jasmine was half asleep when a voice jolted her awake. She didn’t know how long she’d dozed off. It felt like only a minute. Sitting upright, she blinked to bring the world into focus and realized the rickshaw had stopped.

“Get down,” the puller said, an edge of panic in his voice.

“But….” She looked around, rubbing her eyes, confused. “But we’re not there yet.”

“It’s only ten minutes away. I can’t do it anymore.” He grabbed her arm.

Jasmine resisted the pull. “What are you talking about? I’ve already paid. You—”

“There you have it.” The man took the money out of his pocket, thrust it to her, and dragged her off the cart. Two bills slipped out of her grip, floating on the wind.

“Money is useless if one is dead,” he said, picking up the handles. Before she could argue, he turned and ran, leaving her in the middle of a littered street.

Jasmine shook her head as she chased the bills. She snatched one, but the other had blown to the edge of a building and landed at the bottom of an outside basement entrance. Hissing a sigh of irritation, she trod down the steps.

The bill lay on top of a propaganda leaflet. A picture showed a smiling Japanese soldier holding a Chinese baby while giving food to her parents. A few words printed near the Rising Sun flag—“Trust the Japanese Army. We will give you rice to eat, clothes to wear, and a home to live.”

As she picked up the papers, shouts erupted. Gunshots and explosions followed. Instinctively, she hunkered down. With hands over her head, she hid behind the wall, making herself as small as possible. She was afraid to even take a breath.
From her hideaway below street level, she heard a few people pass in a hurry. They were shooting and yelling in Chinese. Her hands covered her ears so she couldn’t make out anything except for a couple of words like “Fire” and “Run.”

Rat-tat-tat-tat. Rapid fire exchanged, and ear-splitting explosions going off. The sound of firearms mingled with yelling and screams. 

Soon a much larger group rushed by, shouting in Japanese.

She recoiled. Her fear grew into a full-blown panic. Her body shook uncontrollably. The sickening stench of blood and gunpowder blended with the animal manure. With one arm shielding her head, she jammed her fist into her mouth to prevent her from crying out loud.

Time seemed to stall. To Jasmine, the fighting seemed to go on forever, but it actually lasted only a few minutes. The soldiers moved on, and the area became quiet.

She waited, listening, making sure she was alone before peering out. No one was there—at least no one was standing. Ten yards to her right lay a corpse in the blue cotton Nationalist Army uniform. He was on his face, a mat of blood on his back. Further away, two more Chinese combatants lay on the sidewalk. One man’s chest was a giant red blossom, and half of the other man’s head had been blown off. Stray dogs circled the bodies. 

Blood drained from Jasmine’s face. For a second, she stood frozen, immobilized by shock and grief. But she allowed herself only a moment before she jumped to her feet.

She moved as fast as she could. In case she had to hide again, she kept running near the edge of the buildings and paid close attention to the basement entrances or any other hideouts. Rubble from artillery fire, abandoned vehicles, weapons, and Nationalist Army uniforms littered the street.

The ten-minute distance seemed longer than the Great Wall. Luckily she didn’t encounter another soul before reaching the house. She was out of breath. Her chest seemed about to explode. She was trembled so violently that she could hardly stand.

Leaning against the frame, she banged on the door. Huffing and puffing, she yelled at the top of her lungs, “Mom! Dad! Open the door. It’s me, Jasmine. I’m home. Open up!”

Iris Yang
Iris Yang (Qing Yang) was born and raised in China. She has loved reading and writing since she was a child, but in China creative writing was a dangerous career. As famous writers and translators, her grandmother and her aunt were wrongfully accused as counter-revolutionary Rightists, so Iris had to choose a safer path—studying science.

After graduating from Wuhan University and passing a series of exams, she was accepted by the prestigious CUSBEA (China-United States Biochemistry Examination and Application program). At age 23, with poor English, little knowledge of the country, and 500 borrowed dollars, she came to the United States as a graduate student at the University of Rochester. 

Later, she received a Ph.D. in molecular biology, trained as a postdoctoral fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and worked at the University of North Carolina. Although she has published a number of scientific papers, she has a passion for creative writing, and her short stories have won contests and have been published in anthologies. Currently, Iris is working on a story based on her grandmother, who was the first Chinese woman to receive a master’s degree in Edinburgh in the UK. Iris now lives between Sedona, Arizona and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Besides writing, she loves hiking, dancing, photography, and travel. 

Iris loves to hear from readers, you can find her: Facebook Twitter 

Recent press interviews with Iris Yang:

Monday 30 July 2018

The Story behind the story by Catherine T Wilson and Catherine A Wilson #amwriting #HistoricalFiction @LionsandLilies1 @LionsandLilies2

The Story behind the story
 By Catherine T Wilson and Catherine A Wilson

In 2003 two women with the same name, living 900 kilometres apart, met by accident online. What happened next was simply amazing!

Catherine T Wilson: 
I came home to find my email inbox inundated with correspondence from the RWA (Romantic Writers Association of Aust) but immediately singled out one response.

Catherine A Wilson:  
A new inductee to RWA had decided to introduce herself to all the other members via what she assumed was a chat room-style forum. Unfortunately, she had instead emailed everyone! Sadly, I can’t recall her name now, but it was certainly eye-catching and I told her so, comparing my rather boring and plain moniker to hers. I then received a rather terse (tongue-in-cheek) reply from a different woman admonishing me for being so rude about a perfectly beautiful name—Catherine Wilson. Our friendship was born at that very moment.

Both women had a dream to write.   

Cathy A: 
I know it’s been said a million times, ‘I always knew I would be a writer,’ and in my case it is certainly true but I had to work extremely hard to reach that goal. As a child I struggled to learn to read and write and I battled my way through school, enduring tedious remedial classes and endless testing. I may not have been able to record my thoughts, but it certainly didn’t stop my imagination from running wild. I spent my time dreaming of the Knights of the Round Table, Camelot, chivalry, maidens on horseback and deadly jousts!
Finally, at age 15, I managed to read a complete novel and began recording my own stories, promising myself that one day I would see my name on the cover. Of course, it took longer than expected. A career in nursing and the RAAF held me up for a while and marriage and children took a lot of my time, but in 2003, with everyone at work or school, I was drawn back to the keyboard.

Cathy T: 
I was always quite good at writing essays in school but it was a science teacher that I remember reading my work to the class. It was a test answer in which we had to describe how white blood cells attack foreign invaders in the body. I had made mine sound like a pitched medieval battle with the heroic cells nobly dying for the honour of preserving the kingdom’s health. The teacher was highly amused. That was high school before my family moved to Queensland and when my schooling resumed, rather than complete my academic course, I found myself enrolled in commercial classes so that I could become ‘workforce-ready.’ My ambition to become a teacher or a pathologist were to be put aside. Such dreams were simply not affordable in a one-parent family. Instead, I had lessons of book-keeping but working with numbers was not exactly to my taste (or my forte), and I hated shorthand. It was like some extraneous language of hieroglyphs, but at least I did learn to type.

Years passed and marriage and family entered the scene, and though happy, I still felt in some way incomplete. I was a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ but ‘master of none’ when all around me people would shine in their own special talent. I wanted to find that one thing that was singular to me, the one thing that maybe I could be good at for myself. Then one day, while I was folding kid’s clothes with the tv on, I watched an interview with a writer and I knew what I was missing. I had the passion but it needed the pages!

Cathy A:
I entered a writing competition in a now extinct Genealogy magazine and was simply amazed when I won first prize. It was exactly the boost I needed.  I then joined RWA and the universe (or something as powerful and mysterious) allowed Cathy T and I to find each other.

Cathy T: 
I began a short-story writing course, but it was novel-writing that really interested me. I was in for the long haul, not the short version. By the time the children were in high school, I’d written my first novel and entered it into a writing competition. It won an encouragement award along with a $1,000.00 cheque. Then disaster struck, and I lost two close members of my family; one to an horrific car accident and only eight weeks later, my mother to illness. Unprepared for such grief, I could barely lift a pen for weeks, let alone type passion at a keyboard until that fateful day when a certain email landed in my inbox. Serendipity – fortunate discoveries by accident or simply destiny?
The two Catherines discovered uncanny resemblances, not only geographically, but even down to immediate family members and names of husbands and children. Forming a strong relationship online, they wrote to each for some 18 months, helping one another and providing support when difficulties struck.

Cathy A: 
Serendipity! I have heard that so often. A fortunate stroke of luck! But was it? Cathy T and I share so many similarities—not just with our backgrounds and birth places or the structure of our families, but also in circumstance. We have shared so much, even though we are restricted by distance.

Then in 2005, Cathy T had an idea.  She was musing on how two women, living so far apart, could readily offer comfort and support to one another when times were tough and, since they both loved medieval history, Cathy T began to wonder what it would have been like for two such women in medieval times. How would they have communicated? Could they have communicated? What sort of support would they be able to provide to each other? How well do really know someone just through letters?
And thus, Lions and Lilies—the story of two women living in the tumultuous times of The Hundred Years War—was born.

Cécile d’Armagnac—wistful, wayward and passionate—led the indulgent life of a French noble, never suspecting the family she adored was not her own.

Catherine Pembroke, a naive novice, abandoned at the Waif’s gate of a nunnery in England, had never known anything more than life behind the convent walls until she received a letter from a woman in France proclaiming to be her sister.

And just as these two women began to write to one another in the 14th century, in the modern world, Cathy A Wilson and Cathy T Wilson kept their relationship confined to emails only. They decided to not speak or meet until their characters did!

Cathy A: 
We used that tool to enhance the manner in which we wrote. Catherine and Cécile communicate within ‘The Lily and the Lion,’ by way of letters. Cathy T and I did likewise, speaking only via email. I did not even know the sound of her voice! We were exactly as our characters were, all of us discovering, learning, and building a relationship with each other simply by way of the written word.

And it worked beautifully.

They wrote on for two and half books over a period of two years until eventually the occasion arose when it became necessary to discuss an offer on their first book. Unlike their troublesome counterparts who were thwarted at every turn to meet, Cathy A was able to pick up the phone and dial direct to Cathy T. Even though their sacred covenant had been broken, the first few minutes of conversation consisted of joyous laughter. Poor Catherine Pembroke and Cécile d’Armagnac would have to wait a bit longer.

In 2007 the women decided to finally meet and at the same time a Sydney video producer heard of their story. He decided to film this special meeting, capturing all the insecurities and excitement on film.

You may view the video here:-

And then, when a potential publisher suggested a change, Cathy A and Cathy T realised their 14th century counterparts should also be allowed the same joy of meeting one another.

The ‘Wilson women’ worked on, finally realising their dream of publication in 2012.

Rewrites and editing became daily chores and their characters definitely provided plenty of practise! The medieval sisters were hard to contain and often in perilous situations.
 But by now ‘this team’ had a regime that operated like clockwork, always allowing for the interference of ‘Madame Fate,’ which was often! Children were growing up, work schedules were changing and then changing again.

On Cathy T’s visits to New South Wales, she and Cathy A began to set up their own stall at medieval fairs where the books were warmly received.

The release of ‘The Lily and the Lion’ – Ironfest 2012

Ironfest 2015

 Blacktown Medieval Faire in 2016

Ironfest 2017 

And over the years, they always made some time for fun!


It was in 2013 that The Lily and the Lion won its first prize in Chanticleer’s ‘Chatelaine’ Award for Historical Romance. This was followed the next year by their second book, The Order of the Lily, winning the same category and then their third book, The Gilded Crown taking another first place in 2016. 

Earlier this year, The Traitor’s Noose won not only first prize in Chanticleer’s ‘Chaucer’ Award for ‘Historical Fiction’ but it took out the grand prize also.

They travelled to the US to receive their awards and attend a writing workshop weekend in Bellingham, north of Seattle, stopping in LA on the way home to visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame, have a coffee with ‘Friends,’ pose with some other friends, pick up an Oscar, and get their kicks on Route 66!

Hollywood Walk of Fame  

  Central Perk Café from the hit show ‘Friends’

 Cathy A made friends with some super heroes 

 And they accepted their Oscar!


Get your kicks on Route 66! (Rolling Stones song)

Of course, they had to visit Medieval Times …

The two writers have since enjoyed many visits to each other, often accompanied by some marketing event or medieval faire,

and the readership for Lions and Lilies continues to grow steadily.

Cathy A: 
I have been told that in co-authoring, anything is fraught with danger; that writers are emotional beings who like to do things their own way. That might be the case for some, but it certainly is not for Cathy T and me.

Our biggest downfall? We talk too much! To each other, on the phone. Such is the strength of our relationship that I know I would not be the writer I am, if not for Cathy T.

The secret to our relationship and success – Honesty, Integrity, and Trust.

Cathy A and Cathy T are currently working on their fifth book, ‘Roar of the Lion,’ in the Lions and Lilies series. They hope it will be ready for release by December 2019.
Narrative by Catherine T Wilson

The Lily and the Lion – Book One

In the war between England and France a medieval adventure begins with a letter. Two sisters, Cécile and Catherine, enter a world of passion and intrigue, separated as infants, rediscovered by chance. Can they unravel a mystery and be re-united? 

The Order of the Lily – Book Two

A tale of powerful alliances, deadly plots and royal secrets. In an age when women held no power, Cécile and Catherine must rely on the courage of the knights who are assigned to protect them.

The Gilded Crown – Book Three

A dangerous power play between kingdoms, each must risk their life to foil a plot that could end the reign of one king and send another to war. In the darkest of hours, courage must be found.

The Traitor’s Noose – Book Four

What is worse than an unexpected betrayal? Discovering your darkest enemy lies within. When honour demands the ultimate sacrifice – loyalty, trust, love but you know, in the end, justice will be a traitor’s noose.


Catherine A and Catherine T love to hear from readers, you can find them: WebsiteFacebook