The official blog of Historical Fiction author, Mary Anne Yarde, and home to The Coffee Pot Book Club. Come and join Mary Anne on the hunt for everything historical, as well as mythological. Oh, and let's not forget the odd book or two! Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy...
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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 (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: FacebookTwitter Recent press interviews with Iris Yang:
two women with the same name, living 900 kilometres apart, met by accident
online. What happened next was simply amazing!
came home to find my email inbox inundated with correspondence from the RWA
(Romantic Writers Association of Aust) but immediately singled out one
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.
women had a dream to write.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
thus, Lions and Lilies—the story of two women living in the tumultuous times of
The Hundred Years War—was born.
d’Armagnac—wistful, wayward and passionate—led the indulgent life of a French
noble, never suspecting the family she adored was not her own.
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.
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
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.
it worked beautifully.
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.
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
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.
‘Wilson women’ worked on, finally realising their dream of publication in 2012.
and editing became daily chores and their characters definitely provided plenty
of practise! The medieval sisters were hard to contain and often in perilous
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
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.
release of ‘The Lily and the Lion’ – Ironfest 2012
Blacktown Medieval Faire in 2016
over the years, they always made some time for fun!
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.
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.
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)
course, they had to visit Medieval Times …
two writers have since enjoyed many visits to each other, often accompanied by
some marketing event or medieval faire,
the readership for Lions and Lilies continues to grow steadily.
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.
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.
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.