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Welcome to Encore on Binge Reading, the show where we invite back authors who’ve already been on The Joys of Binge Reading to talk about their latest book.
Hi there. I’m your host, Jenny Wheeler, and today on the show we have Canadian romcom author Roselle Lim. talking about her latest magical story of love, Sophie Go’s Lonely Hear4ts Club.
Links to books mentioned in the show:
Roselle’s first Joys of Binge Reading episode – one of the “Best of 2021”
Books recommended by Roselle:
For Twice In My Life by Annette Christie https://www.amazon.com/For-Twice-in-My-Life/dp/B0B836CMVK/
The Luminaries by Susan Dennard: https://www.amazon.com/Luminaries-Susan-Dennard/dp/1250194040
Where to find Roselle on line:
But before we get to Roselle, as usual, we’ve got a giveaway for our listeners, 10 free copies this week of Sadie’s Vow, the first book in my new Home At Last series.
I love Sadie as a character for her staunch loyalty to her dying mother’s wishes…. even when it seems to be working against her self interest…
And don’t forget. If you like what you hear, leave your comments wherever you listen to your audio so others can hear about us too.
Introducing romcom author Roselle Lim
But now here’s Roselle.
Jenny Wheeler: So welcome to the show, Roselle. It’s wonderful to have you back with us. You were last on Binge Reading in February, 2021, with a fabulous romcom called Vanessa Lu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop.
It featured in the Best of the 2021 books for the year and that was terrific. That was only your second novel, so it wasn’t as if you had a great series behind you.
Now this new book is Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club, and it continues that romcom theme of Canadian Chinese girl finding her way in life and getting herself established.
Sophie is a newly minted professional matchmaker with a rather overpowering mom. It’s located in Toronto, and I wondered what was the biggest challenge for you in writing the story?
Roselle Lim: The biggest challenge for me? Well, first of all, the book is a retelling, a loose retelling, of the Snow White fairy tale.
So in the fairy tale you do have that evil stepmother, right? And in this one for me it is portraying to me a realistic version of what it is like when you are suffering from emotional abuse from a parent, or this case both parents.
A picture of family emotional abuse
Jenny Wheeler: Yes, because the father in the story is very much overpowered by the mother. He is more interested in placating his wife than in looking after his daughter’s interests, isn’t he?
Roselle Lim: Yes, he’s very much the enabler, a common formula or a dynamic when that kind of abuse happens in the family.
Jenny Wheeler: Interesting that you drew on the fairy tale aspect, because your work is often referred to as magical realism. How close do you think you are to that description of magical realism?
Roselle Lim: I wanted to imbue magic as an ordinary magic into this and in Sophie in particular. It’s about the red threads and being able to see them and how they link people together.
This is how soulmates are viewed by Sophie and by the reader. I like having the subtle magic in there. And I think for magical realism, there is a cultural cornerstone to it. I believe I’ve established that. with my Chinese culture as the back.
Jenny Wheeler: Yes, she’s desperate to prove herself and earn a living as a matchmaker so she doesn’t have to return to living with her parents.
In desperation she takes on a group of elderly gents as possible candidates for matchmaking because she just wants to develop a back list of people who’ve used her services and can give her a good report.
I wondered if there was a personal link for you, with either a friend or an older person in your life who you’d seen really wanting to have another partner.
Sophie Go – ‘A love letter to all of the time…’
Roselle Lim: I haven’t, but this is more of a love letter to all of the time that I’ve spent with my grandparents. because I spent every weekend with them growing up.
It’s just being around them, and writing this book lets me have that experience again in a way.
Jenny Wheeler: Yes, this is very central to the heart of the story. A conviction that romantic love is something that we can experience at any age and stage of our lives. Is that something that’s close to your heart?
Roselle Lim: Yes, it is, because I honestly believe that as human beings, we can be lonely creatures. For some people, and more power to them, if they’re happy being alone, that’s great.
But for a lot of us, we want companionship and I don’t think that there should be an expiration date or a time for that.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s wonderful. The role of the professional matchmaker, that’s what Sophie is wanting to develop a career in – as a professional matchmaker. You’ve mentioned the red threads are like her intuitive connection with the people around her, and she gets visual clues in her mind about the things that are happening and it’s almost like the vibes that they’re giving off.
It’s almost a similar thing to reading auras. Is the role of a professional matchmaker still something that exists in Chinese society today or is it more of an antique thing?
Matchmakers still common in many societies
Roselle Lim: I think it still does, because there’s still a lot of matchmakers. It’s similar to South Asian or Indian matchmaking. It’s still there because there’s a lot of tradition behind it.
In the case of Chinese matchmaking, a lot of it, I believe, is more rooted in numerology and, you know, the study of numbers when people are born and all of that, and that plays more of a role in making matches.
Jenny Wheeler: Yes, so she’s got a sixth sense. Earlier in the series, you had different characters, but a similar theme and I think in the first book, your character fought against the idea that she had this gift.
She did at the beginning. She didn’t want to accept the gift. Now, in this character of Sophie, she’s really embracing it.
Has that been a development for you too in terms of the characters and the stories?
Roselle Lim: I just like the idea that you can choose your own destiny, and that’s very much, I guess a western concept in that growing up, you try to do your best to follow what your parents intend for you.
So I like the idea of exploring the whole ‘manifesting your own destiny’ idea and choosing what you want for yourself instead of what the social and familial expectations are placed upon you.
Outliving parental expectations…
Jenny Wheeler: Yes. That happens in many cultures, of course. and I know that in our earlier chat you mentioned for yourself that your parents had certain hopes and wishes for how your life was going to develop, and being a full-time writer wasn’t necessarily part of that picture.
How is that now with three books out, have they come to accept that you are a full-time writer?
Roselle Lim: I think so. But a lot of it I think has to do with the fact that my parents are extremely busy with their really young grandchildren – too busy to even think about anything else outside of keeping these tiny little humans happy and out of trouble.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s a gift for you, is it?
Roselle Lim: Yes, it’s my sister’s children, though, in this case.
Jenny Wheeler: Your first book, Natalie Tan’s book of Love And Fortune was picked up by television at one stage. I wonder, has there been a development in that? And can you give us an idea of if we are going to see it on screens anytime soon?
Roselle Lim: Yes, there is a development on that and I can’t say anything. The announcement should be coming up soon, I would say stay tuned to social media and whatnot, because yes, something is happening with all three books.
Jenny Wheeler: Oh, that’s fantastic. That’s wonderful. Well, we’ll try and keep an eye on that and, see how it develops.
Food still plays a large part in this story like it did in the previous ones and it’s partly your own passion for eating out and enjoying food.
A foodie frustrated by lockdown…
I wondered how you’ve managed over the last couple of years with all of this pandemic lockdown stuff, have you been a bit deprived?
Roselle Lim: I have been, but I made up for it in developing a pandemic skill. A lot of people I have read and heard have learned how to make bread. I was not one of those people, unfortunately.
What I did learn though, is how to shuck oysters, and that’s something that I’ve always wanted to do and I’ve taught myself how to do it.
I’m very proud because it is so much cheaper to buy oysters on your own and shuck them versus eating them at a restaurant.
Jenny Wheeler: And is it a difficult art to learn? I must admit I don’t even eat to oysters. Is shucking them difficult to do?
Roselle Lim: It is, especially if you’re the type of person who can easily hurt themselves with sharp objects.
Jenny Wheeler: It sounds like you might be one of those. Are you one of those people?
Roselle Lim: No, I did okay. I actually did okay. And it was, I bought a kit from Amazon and I went from there. And with each subsequent shell that I’ve opened, I’ve got better at opening them up. It does take a little bit of brute force to get them open.
Jenny Wheeler: This book that we are discussing is number three in your publishing schedule. You mentioned before we started recording that you’ve got number four with your publisher at the moment.
Roselle Lim’s developing writing process
Tell me, in the process of writing, have you noticed a change in the way that you approach the books or your process as you work through them?
With the writing of each one, have you developed different, habits or ways of working?
Roselle Lim: It’s more about planning. I’m more of a planner now than I have been, and I’ve also been very liberal about rewarding myself when I hit milestones, which is really great.
When I hit the mid mark, I’m going to be going out and grabbing myself some fried chicken as a reward.
Jenny Wheeler: So how many words are the books generally?
Roselle Lim: 80 to 85,000.
Jenny Wheeler: What are your reward milestones?
Roselle Lim: It’s usually something small for each 10,000 words, it would be just chocolate, but if it’s a pathway through it definitely needs something.
And around the last third mark, is usually when I hit this wall ,where I have to let it sit for a few days and think that it’s just that wall and I know it’s coming.
Just let it sit and then I keep going and at the end when I finally finish the book, it’s a nice dinner out.
Rewarding yourself for work well done
Jenny Wheeler: How many hours a day would you be at your typewriter or your computer keyboard?
Roselle Lim: I try to aim more for hitting the word count of 2000 words, 2000 to 2,500 a day.
Right now, I’m getting there. It takes me a bit to get to speed too. It’s all about habit and establishing routine.
Jenny Wheeler: Yes. And so do you normally write in the morning?
Roselle Lim: I do. For me, it’s trying to cut down the distractions of everything. And when I say distractions, it’s not necessarily picking up my phone and playing a game or checking my mail.
It’s more of getting up to see what the cat is up to or getting up to try to get something to eat. It’s those little things that just kind of creep in your mind.
I actually do write better if I’m out at a coffee shop, because I don’t have all those other little mini distractions plaguing my brain.
Jenny Wheeler: Tell us as much as you can about the book that’s with the publisher at the moment. Is it still in this romcom theme too?
Roselle Lim: It isn’t it’s a fantasy. This will be published, I believe, under a different imprint. A fantasy imprint. It is set in an antique shop in London, Westminster, where I stayed when I visited there in 2019.
The next book is a fantasy romcom
And it’s about two, two people who are exes being trapped in situations where they have to work together, then I and add into that formula gods and ghosts, and we see what happens as a result?
Jenny Wheeler: It’s still under this author name, is it? Roselle Lim?.
Roselle Lim: Yes. Even the YA book, the young adult that I’m working on will be under my name. I figure I might as well keep it and see what happens. If Neil Gaiman can do it, I could just keep the same.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s great. We always like to ask about reading habits because our listeners are avid readers, and so I’d just like to check in with you, what have you been reading lately and you really enjoyed? Would like to recommend anything?
I have a book, recently released by a friend of mine, Annette Christie. It’s For Twice In My Life.
It’s all about choices and forgetting, I believe she has amnesia and she has to make, a choice between two men.
It’s very interesting. I’ve also been trying to read more young adult fantasy as well, because I’m writing in the genre now.
And the recent one that I finished that I really enjoyed was The Luminaries by Susan Dennard.
Jenny Wheeler: This one that you were mentioning For Twice In My Life. Is that a fiction or a nonfiction?
Roselle Lim: This is a fiction.
Jenny Wheeler: It is fiction.
And the one after that is a Young Adult story
Roselle Lim: iI you like romcoms, you’ll definitely enjoy Annette’s book. And she’s a dear friend of mine,
Jenny Wheeler: Oh, that’s fabulous. So just tell us a little bit, looking ahead in the next 12 months, what have you got on your desk? When is the deadline for this book you’re working on now?
Roselle Lim: The YA I believe, will be published in January, 2025. So no books this year. As for the fantasy, I believe it’s going to be published next year in 2024. This year will be a lot of edits and writing
Jenny Wheeler: Okay, and has the 2024 1 got a title yet?
Roselle Lim: Night for Day.
Jenny Wheeler: Night for Day.
Roselle Lim: I believe, yes, that was the working title, and my editor said, oh, I like it. It can stay. I’m like, okay.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s great. That’s wonderful. And is life back to normal for you Now, how’s Toronto post pandemic?
Roselle Lim: There’s still a lot of colds around. I have a school-aged child in the house and they’re the vectors for germs.
They bring everything home and masking is no longer compulsory in schools, so she will bring something home and it’s a game of disgusting plague pot potato between me and my husband when she’s ill.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s lovely, Roselle. Thank you so much for being with us today. It’s a pleasure to have you on again.
Roselle Lim: Thank you so much for having me.
Jenny Wheeler: Bye now.
Roselle Lim: Bye.
If you enjoyed Roselle Lim you might also enjoy…. Lindsey Kelk’s I Heart Romcoms
On the next Binge Reading Episode…
Next week on Binge Reading to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. We’ve got international bestselling thriller writer Catherine Ryan Howard, and her latest nail biter Run Time.
She talks about her pathway to “instant success,” writing in lockdown, and her rather special spreadsheet.
That’s next week on The Joys of Binge Reading.
That’s it for today, and happy reading.