Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month 2016!
If you’re a new visitor to RARM, I hope you’ll come back every day in August to read all the wonderful pro-romance posts this year. Check out the full calendar here. You can also find links to the last three years’ posts from the boxes in the sidebar, and if you’d like, you can follow RARM on Facebook. Enjoy August!
When Love Thrives
Love always changes, but sometimes in a good way. A famous Chinese poem says “May I ask the world what is love, that people are willing to die for it?” Though I don’t like to see anyone die for love, the willingness to sacrifice all is truly moving. Yet the impulse to die for one’s beloved comes with young, passionate love. After years together, affection steadily deepens. For most of us, it is a shared life that is most satisfying. Deep affection grows for a couple as they share both pleasure and pain, headaches, heartbreaks, and all kinds of “winds and rain” as the Chinese say. After that, if a couple still loves and cherishes each other and is willing to sacrifice, this is true love, and to me, truly romantic.
A three thousand year old Chinese poem says, “I will take your hand and grow old with you.” Another ancient poem, “If someone is dear to my heart, he and I will never part, even when our hair turns white.”
When a couple is young and passionately in love, I believe most of them will not think far into the future. But the days pass until one day they discover that they are old. Yet you are still together, both white-haired, still holding hands, with most of life’s ups and downs behind you. Then you may think of this Chinese poem “As long as my body is here, so will be my love for you.”
“Looking for you a thousand times in the dense crowd. I turn, and your face suddenly appears under the fading light.”
My American husband and I met at a Buddhist conference twenty-odd years ago in Taiwan. He told me that when he was waiting to enter the conference hall in the library and saw a young woman, he immediately knew, “That’s her, she’ll become my wife!” And I did, after a few eight-thousand-mile flights back and forth across the Pacific for our dates.
Love often thrives on difficulties. In my debut novel, Peach Blossom Pavilion, I write about a forbidden love between an elegant prostitute and a Daoist monk. My third novel Song of the Silk Road is about a younger man falling for a recklessly adventurous older woman. Two of my other novels Skeleton Women and Secret of a Thousand Beauties are also about forbidden love. The former is about a spy who shares a gangster’s bed falling for his son as she spies on the father. In the latter, an embroiderer escaping a disastrous forced marriage to a ghost falls for a revolutionary. My newest novel The Witch’s Market is about a young shamaness who turns down two wealthy men to be together with a village craftsman, all the while fighting off a coven of malicious witches.
To me, true romantic love can leap across all barriers of age, nationality, language, money and great old age.
Mingmei Yip recommends:
Weina Dai Randel’s second novel The Moon in the Palace recreates the life of the first Chinese empress. I love her poetic prose and entrancing descriptions.
(Read Weina’s RARM ’16 post here.)
Another author I like is Sonali Dev, whose writing is filled with wit and warmth. Sonali’s stories are set in the present, but with much about India’s ancient culture.
(Read Sonali’s RARM ’16 post here.)
Questions for the Author:
Tell us about a moment in your life when you felt romance surrounding you.
In China, a special kind of red bean is the symbol of eternal love. This is because the red bean is very hard and will never rot. Lovers like to give these to each other to pledge their undying love. When we were first married, my husband traveled a lot, so I gave him a bunch of red beans in a nicely crafted box to bring along on his travels.
Tell us about someone special in your life (other than your partner) with whom you share romance.
I used to write love poems for a Chinese newspaper. I had fans who told me they were infatuated by my images of romantic love. Among the letters they sent me were some asking for advice and others simply telling me about their romantic feelings. Here is one of the love poems I wrote:
In one fleeting and vulnerable life,
How many romances?
One evening, watched over by the new moon,
I give birth to a poem, brushed onto a paper fan,
By the same hand that once stroked loneliness.
This poem is for the lover I have not yet met.
Though I have no idea who you are,
I had not known that youth flows away like water,
To a young life, what does this matter?
I only know that my lips burn for passionate love…
Do you have a place in the world or a sound that you equate with romance?
A Chinese pop song entitled The Moon Is In My Heart. In traditional China, lovers, especially those called away to war or for involuntary labor on the Great Wall, would look up to the moon to express their longing. Lovers hoped that the moon, shining over us all, would tell their loved ones of their longing. Today, young couples will play or sing this song to each other to declare their love.
Who is your (or a) favorite romantic couple?
More than a thousand years ago, Emperor Taizong passionately loved his Concubine Yang Guifei. He had hundreds of concubines in the inner palace ready to offer their bodies. Though all were beautiful, flirtatious and talented in dancing and singing and available every night, Emperor Taizong cared only for Concubine Yang. One evening after all the palace and worldly affairs subsided, Taizong took Yang to the palace rooftop, looked at the moon and swore his undying love. His declaration was recreated in a famous poem Song of Everlasting Sorrow by Bai Juyi, “In heaven, I wish we were birds flying beside each other. On earth, I wish we were two tree branches growing entangled.
True love was almost non-existent inside the palace walls which concealed schemes, intrigues, and assassinations, many carried out by beautiful but ruthless women as they vied for the attention of the most powerful man under heaven. That is why Emperor Taizong’s love for Yang was truly romantic.
Tell us about your dream date.
My dream date happened in a very unusual way. For my first date with my future husband, he rented a car and drove me from Seattle to see Mount Rainer. On the way back, I felt tired and slept through the entire trip. However, I had told him that I was going to sleep. Now, twenty-five years later, my husband still teases me about this. For some reason he found my falling asleep on our first date truly romantic – it showed I totally trusted him, then almost a stranger.
Mingmei Yip is generously giving away three copies of Secret of a Thousand Beauties (US readers only, apologies to international friends).
To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below or on the *Facebook post you’ll find here (or both – Share the Love!) ;o) by 11:59 pm PST Sep 5, 2016. Good luck!
(*You don’t have to like the FB page, but we do recommend it. It’s easier to contact you if you win. Also consider joining the Read-A-Romance Book Club page, where we discuss romance of all kinds and will have drawings and events throughout the year.)
Mingmei Yip believes that one should, besides being entertained, also get something out of reading a novel. Her novels (published by Kensington Books) are: The Witch’s Market; Secret of a Thousand Beauties (ghost-bride turned embroiderer); Skeleton Women; The Nine Fold Heaven (Femmes Fatales); Peach Blossom Pavilion (story of the last Chinese Geisha); Petals from the Sky (inter-racial love story) Song of the Silk Road (an adventure, love story between an older woman and a younger man with a three million award).
Besides writing, Mingmei is accomplished in many other fields. A professional player of the Guqin, Chinese zither, she was recently invited by Carnegie Hall to perform in “A Festival celebrating Chinese Culture” program. She had her solo Goddess exhibition at the New York Open Center Gallery to great acclaim and held calligraphy workshops at the City University of New York and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has lectured extensively on Chinese art and culture at Oxford University, Columbia University, Beijing University, University of Paris, Vassar College, Williams College.
Mingmei is also a children’s book writer and illustrator. Her two children’s books are Chinese Children’s Favorite Stories and Grandma Panda’s China Storybook, both by Tuttle Publishing.
Visit Mingmei at:
Buy Mingmei’s books:
*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and many text links connect to a Read-A-Romance Month affiliate portal. Thanks so much for your help & support!