MacKids Spotlight: Judy I. Lin

Judy I. Lin’s sweeping debut A Magic Steeped in Poison, first in a duology, is sure to enchant fans of Adrienne Young and Leigh Bardugo.

Judy shares more about her inspiration for the story and her advice for young writers here! Plus, request a digital review copy of A Magic Steeped in Poison on NetGalley!

What’s your favorite kind of tea?

Judy Lin: I’m very particular about the type of tea I drink because I grew up in a family of tea connoisseurs and tea is such a prominent part of Taiwanese culture. I like the more heavily fermented Red Oolong Tea and the unique Taiwanese cultivar Ruby 18 black tea. But sometimes I do enjoy a London Fog tea latte when I am writing!


A competition to find the greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making—sounds even better than The Great British Bake Off. What inspired you to write The Book of Tea duology?

Judy: My love of tea is definitely the spark that started the whole book. I was interested in imagining how a practitioner of tea magic would use this type of magic due to the limitations of it. Is the magic contained within the tea leaves or is it something about how it interacts with the water? That was when I started to look into the origins of the tea that I enjoy from Taiwan, and how the tea plant was brought over from China, as well as how tea became a prominent drink in ancient China and was actually used as currency. The story and the worldbuilding developed from there, as I continued to draw inspiration from my culture and history, with a little sprinkling of the fantastical.


Tell us about a librarian or educator who made an impact on you.

Judy: I started writing my own stories in junior high and sharing it with my friends and my teachers. My Language Arts teacher at the time encouraged me to look into pursuing publication, which was something I never thought was possible, because I was only aware of one or two prominent Asian American writers, and no Asian American authors who were writing specifically for teens. I never forgot what she said to me, and it motivated me to find a publisher for my stories many years later. We have since reconnected and she is also a published author! Thank you, Mrs. Wees!


What is the first step in your creative process?

Judy: Research! My ideas usually come to me in the form of a question, but I find though that I build my plot after I’m aware of the environment my characters will be inhabiting. Even though I write fantasy and usually deviate from the historical or real-world locations that I am inspired by, the research grounds me and builds a construct around which I shape and re-imagine it to suit my story.


What advice would you give to young writers?

Judy: Read a lot. Not only fiction, but non-fiction as well. You might find inspiration and little details to insert in your stories in the strangest places. Sometimes you only have a few pieces of the puzzle, but the rest of it might come when you are reading someone else’s story or learning about something new.


What was your favorite book when you were a teenager?

Judy: My favorite book and one I read over and over again until the cover almost fell off was The Singing Stone, by O.R. Melling. It’s about a girl who time travels from modern times to Bronze-Age Ireland. It’s an adventure story with Celtic mythology and of course, lots of magic. I will never be tired of stories where characters travel to far off places and discover more about themselves and/or their family history in the process.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Judy I. Lin was born in Taiwan and immigrated to Canada with her family at a young age. She grew up with her nose in a book and loved to escape to imaginary worlds. She now works as an occupational therapist and still spends her nights dreaming up imaginary worlds of her own. She lives on the Canadian prairies with her husband and daughter. A Magic Steeped in Poison is her debut novel.


ABOUT THE DUOLOGY:

A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy Lin
Ages 13-18
On Sale March 29, 2022

Judy I. Lin’s sweeping debut A Magic Steeped in Poison, first in a duology,is sure to enchant fans of Adrienne Young and Leigh Bardugo.

I used to look at my hands with pride. Now all I can think is, “These are the hands that buried my mother.”

For Ning, the only thing worse than losing her mother is knowing that it’s her own fault. She was the one who unknowingly brewed the poison tea that killed her—the poison tea that now threatens to also take her sister, Shu.

When Ning hears of a competition to find the kingdom’s greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making—she travels to the imperial city to compete. The winner will receive a favor from the princess, which may be Ning’s only chance to save her sister’s life.

But between the backstabbing competitors, bloody court politics, and a mysterious (and handsome) boy with a shocking secret, Ning might actually be the one in more danger.


PRAISE FOR A MAGIC STEEPED IN POISON:

“Beautifully written, from the setting to the magic system, A Magic Steeped in Poison is sure to enchant both fantasy lovers and cdrama aficionados. I’ll be inhaling whatever Judy I. Lin brews up next.” —Joan HeNew York Times-bestselling author of The Ones We’re Meant to Find

“A breathtaking tale with a stunning magic system rooted deep in Chinese mythology and tea-making traditions. Lin’s originality truly blew my mind. Love and magic overflows past the brim in this work of beauty.” —Xiran Jay ZhaoNew York Times-bestselling author of Iron Widow

“Ning’s unforgettable voice and the lush, atmospheric settings will enchant readers in this high-stakes story of deadly magic. … Lin blends Chinese folklore with a thrilling mystery. It’s the perfect recipe for a page-turner.” —Bookliststarred review


A Venom Dark and Sweet by Judy I. Lin
Ages 13-18
On sale August 23, 2022

The enthralling conclusion to Judy I. Lin’s Book of Tea duology—A Magic Steeped in Poison and A Venom Dark and Sweet—is sure to enchant fans of Adrienne Young and Leigh Bardugo.

A great evil has come to the kingdom of Dàxi. The Banished Prince has returned to seize power, his rise to the dragon throne aided by the mass poisonings that have kept the people bound in fear and distrust.

Ning, a young but powerful shénnóng-shi—a wielder of magic using the ancient and delicate art of tea-making—has escorted Princess Zhen into exile. Joining them is the princess’ loyal bodyguard, Ruyi, and Ning’s newly healed sister, Shu. Together the four young women travel throughout the kingdom in search of allies to help oust the invaders and take back Zhen’s rightful throne.

But the golden serpent still haunts Ning’s nightmares with visions of war and bloodshed. An evil far more ancient than the petty conflicts of men has awoken, and all the magic in the land may not be enough to stop it from consuming the world…


Read more author Q&As here!