Bestselling Author


Night Angels

Night Angels by Weina Dai Randel

Weina Dai Randel joins Jane Healey to talk about her novel, Night Angels. From the author of The Last Rose of Shanghai comes a profoundly moving novel about a diplomatic couple who risked their lives to help Viennese Jews escape the Nazis, based on the true story of Dr. Ho Fengshan, Righteous Among the Nations.

Weina Dai Randel

Weina Dai Randel is the Wall Street Journal bestselling, award-winning author of four novels, Night Angels, The Last Rose of Shanghai, The Moon in the Palace and The Empress of Bright Moon, a historical duology about Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor. Weina is the winner of the RWA  RITA® Award, a National Jewish Book Awards finalist, and a two-time Goodreads Choice Awards Best Historical Fiction nominee. Her novels have received starred reviews from Booklist, Library Journal, and Shelf Awareness and rave reviews from other publications such as Historical Novel Review, RT Book Reviews, and Book Reporter. Weina is also the recipient of the Mass Cultural Council’s art grant in 2023.

In this episode of Historical Happy Hour, host Jane interviews Weina Dai Randel, author of “Night Angels,” about her new novel. Weina discusses the inspiration behind the book, centered around Dr. Ho Feng Shan, the Consul General of China in Vienna during World War II. She shares insights into her extensive research process, including primary and secondary sources. Weina and Jane delve into the challenges of striking a balance between fact and fiction in historical novels, Weina’s personal journey as a writer, and her writing process as a plotter. They also discuss the difficulties in selecting a book title and cover design, as well as Weina’s upcoming projects.

Timestamp List of Topics:

  • [00:00:00] Introduction of Weina Dai Randel
  • [00:02:26] Inspiration for “Night Angels”
  • [00:07:09] Research Process for the Novel
  • [00:10:09] Historical Context of “Night Angels”
  • [00:20:51] Balancing Fact and Fiction in Storytelling
  • [00:23:01] Weina’s Journey as a Writer
  • [00:25:26] Writing Process and Approaches
  • [00:26:41] Favorite and Dreaded Parts of Writing
  • [00:28:03] Advice for Aspiring Authors
  • [00:29:27] Interaction with Book Clubs and Readers
  • [00:29:55] Upcoming Projects
  • [00:32:28] Deciding on the Title “Night Angels”
  • [00:33:13] Approach to Writing Multiple Points of View
  • [00:36:02] Influential Books in Weina’s Life
  • [00:37:07] Closing Remarks


[00:00:00] Jane: Let’s see. And we’re live! Welcome everyone to the latest historical happy hour. I am so happy to have Weina Dai Randel here, who is a Lake Union author like me. We are publishing sisters, and we’re, Weina, you’re one of these people, you moved to Massachusetts, we have like, know each other, and we’ve talked about getting together, but this is the first time we’re actually Speaking, but not the last So welcome and I am going to just dive in with a quick intro Weina Dai Randel is the wall street journal bestselling award winning author of four novels night angels the last rose of shanghai The Moon in the Palace and the Empress of Bright Moon, a historical duology about Wu Zetian, the Empress Wu Zetian, is that correct?

Yes, that’s right, yeah. Weina is the winner of the RWA Reader Award, a National Jewish Book Awards finalist, and a two time Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee. Amazing. Weina is also the recipient of the Mass Cultural Council’s Art Grant in 2023. Her books have been translated into 13 languages.

Born in China, Weina came to the United States at 24 when she switched to English and began to speak, write, and dream in her second language. She holds an MA in English from Texas Women’s University in Denton, Texas. Welcome to the show.

[00:01:32] Weina: Thank you so much, Jane, for having me.

[00:01:34] Jane: I know, it’s so nice to kind of finally meet you. So I want to talk today about Night Angels. I’ll hold up the book, people haven’t seen the cover. And I want to mention too, I’ll put it in the chat you have signed copies available at Bookends in Winchester, Massachusetts, but they will ship anywhere.

They also have signed copies of my book. So if anyone is interested in signed copies, I’m going to put it I’m going to put their link in the chat now so everyone can, can, can see that. So I want to talk about Night Angels, amazing, amazing, true story based on an actual person in history, Dr. Ho Feng Chan, the Consul General of China in Vienna during the war, who has been hailed as the Chinese Schindler.

Talk to me about The inspiration for the story and how you just why you ultimately decided to write it.

[00:02:26] Weina: Oh, okay. So that has to go back to when I was writing The Last Rose of Shanghai. When I was about finishing up The Last Rose of Shanghai. I was looking for a new project, and my agent was telling me to write another project, and then I remembered a piece of history I covered during my research, and that was why those so first let’s go back to The Last Rose of Shanghai.

It’s a love story between a Chinese woman and a Jewish refugee who fled to Shanghai from Nazi Germany. And with that research, I discovered that the reason why the Jewish people were able to go to Shanghai was because they received a visa from a Chinese diplomat called Dr. Ho Feng Shan in Austria.

And that’s how they were able to escape Austria. And from my research, I discovered that Dr. Ho Feng Shang actually issued thousands of visas to all the people, to anybody who asked, who applied for the visa. And then I, when I read that, I was like, okay, that is very interesting because I’ve never heard of, of a Chinese diplomat actually had this heroic rescue.

But then. I was not sure I would write it because he was a man, and he was a diplomat and for me diplomats are boring people. And then I started to look deeper and because my agent was telling me to look into that and then I read his memoir and discovered that his second wife, so he actually had three wives, his first wife.

died very early and left him two children, but one child also died very while she was an infant, and the other son survived, and he had three wives. That was the first wife, and the second wife was an American woman who was half Chinese and half Caucasian, and when I saw that, I was immediately interested, because personally, I, my husband is Jewish, so we, I have two kids, and they are kind of half and half, and they always told me very weird stories about their identities, and it was like something I’ve never heard of before, but it was very shocking for them to discover.

Their own identity because they were half Chinese and half Jewish. So for one thing, Jane I can tell you this little snippet of story. A few, two years ago, my daughter, she found a job in a grocery store and that was her first job as a cashier. And she was checking out people and then somebody in Boston just came right up to her and said, Hey, are you half and half?

And she was like, Oh, what? She was like, never realized that she would be identified as something like milk, half and half.

[00:05:45] Jane: Oh, so interesting.

[00:05:47] Weina: Yeah. So I, I was immediately interested when I discovered that she, he actually had a, an American born wife. So I look into that part and I discovered that they met in Chicago, and then she left the U.

S. for him, went to China, and then they went to Turkey, went to Austria, but at the end of his diplomatic tenure in Vienna, they divorced, and he married another woman who was Chinese. But then the story of Grace Lee, his second wife, just fell out. I couldn’t find any information about her. So you know, right, when you find some historical figure and you only know a little bit about her.

This is actually very exciting for a novelist because from there, you can just make up everything that you

[00:06:46] Jane: wanted. Right. And it’s kind of like a vessel. Right. Yeah. Yes. Yeah. So, so interesting. How you did that. And so talk to me. I mean, clearly you did a ton of research for this story. Tell me about your research process and, you know, some of your sources and you do a lot of research up front.

Are you research as you go?

[00:07:09] Weina: Oh, I had to do a lot of research upfront because I was not familiar with the history between 1938 to 1940 and I did not want to get it wrong. Jane, you know, this history is, like, very close to everybody, like, especially for people who know about the history of Holocaust, and you don’t want to get it wrong.

So what I did was I did it up front. I started with Dr. Hou Fengshan with his memoir as primary source. And then I basically checked everything, every single word that he said in his memoir during his three years of tenure in Austria. And then I also look up his son’s memoir, his son Manto, who was with him in Austria at that time.

So I, I verified both. And I also look up the Chinese translation and abridged English translation. That was my primary source. And of course, there was some kind of conflicting information between those two memoirs because he was a, he was in his thirties and he knew exactly what happened, but his son was only 11 at that time.

So his memory was, was, I would say was not very good. are very accurate, but I had to verify both and make decision about which one to trust.

[00:08:32] Jane: Very interesting. Oh, go ahead.

[00:08:36] Weina: So that was with Dr. Ho Feng Shan. In Night Angels, you will also see there was this villain Eichmann, Adolf Eichmann, and also the Jewish tutor who became friends to Grace Lee.

And all this information was new to me, and I had to learn. everything to understand the Jewish culture in Austria and the Jewish mindset, the Austrians mindset. Because, you know, in 1938 many Jews in Austria, they did not identify themselves as Jews. They saw them as Viennese first and Jews second. It’s very similar to those Jews in Berlin as well, right?

Yeah, so interesting. Yeah, they call them German first and Jews second. Yeah. So, yeah, this kind of culture, the mindset, I had to read. I read a lot of novels by the native Austrians. Authors like Arthur Schnitzler, Schnitzler and Stephen Zweig and his memoir about the world of yesterday, which was very, very depressing, but it was very important to know what happened to them and how they saw the change of attitude in Austria at that time.

Yeah. And another thing, like, I told you, diplomats are boring people. And the hardest part was to discover the diplomacy at that time, the politics. Oh, yeah.

[00:10:09] Jane: You got into that as well, which is really interesting.

[00:10:11] Weina: Yeah, I know, and it was like Roosevelt’s, Franklin Roosevelt’s attitude, and Chamberlain’s attitude, and John C.

Wiley’s. Correspondence to the State Department and all those diplomats protocols. They were just, oh, man, that was a lot. Very rigid.

[00:10:32] Jane: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. The politics of the time. And I have a question. Some questions about that later. I thought that was really interesting as well. You just mentioned her. So, Okay.

Thanks, everyone. Thank you. Grace is basically, the character Grace is loosely based on Dr. Frenchon’s second wife, and then her tutor Lola Schnitzler is fictional.

[00:10:57] Weina: Yes, she’s completely fictional, yes.

[00:10:59] Jane: And so how did you decide to weave her into the story? Why her? Like, why Lola? And is she based on anyone directly or is she completely fictional?

[00:11:11] Weina: She’s completely fictional. So this is probably something like a writer’s process. First, I finished the story between the diplomat and Grace. And then the story was coherent at the beginning, the middle, and the end. But then I felt something was missing. I thought I needed more tension there. I needed Jewish voice there so you can really feel the desperation.

You also feel how the Jewish people, how bewildered they were. when the world just turned on them overnight. Yes. Because in 1938, after Anshulas, they were not prepared. They still thought, well, things happen, but things happened before. Austria was just this, in this, Wallowing in alarm, but things are gonna change anyway, but they never saw what was gonna come at them They never saw the Holocaust and they never Suspected it.

So I wanted to put that attitude in there. So Lola Somehow came up to me and her story was just done in a week. I was like, whoa.

[00:12:26] Jane: Oh, amazing. And it completely makes sense to have the Jewish perspective in there and talk to us. So explain to people a little bit what Auschlaß was. And another part of the history that was interesting at the time is I didn’t realize that so many countries turned.

Not really shut the doors on these immigrants who are trying to flee Austria, including America. They only left a certain number and that was it. And that was, that was how, you know, Dr. Ho Fen Hsuan decided, you know, decided to start distributing visas. So, so talk to me about that, that, the historical context.

So the story.

[00:13:06] Weina: Okay. Yeah, Jane. I’ll be happy to talk about that. And I think many people actually are not aware what happened at the beginning of World War Two. And this is when you look into it, a very, it is really frightening. And I think what’s his name? He. He had this documentary called the U. S.

and the Holocaust. Oh man, what’s his name?

[00:13:29] Jane: Oh I know the major, I’m blanking too.

[00:13:32] Weina: Yeah, somebody actually emailed me and it told me that the climate I described in Night Angels was very similar to the U. S. and the Holocaust documentary that was released a few months ago. So, what happened was the Anschluss is called the political union between Germany and Austria.

Because you know, Austria was very powerful as an empire for many, many years. But in 1920s and 1930s, Austria’s economy tanked. And you have Hitler just right next door in Germany. And Hitler, who was born in Austria, always wanted it to be have them together. And in 1938, Hitler saw the opportunity to expand the territory.

So he worked, he pulled his, basically poured his army into Austria in Vienna in March 1938. And people in Vienna Welcome him with open arms and Hitler delivered a speech in the hero’s square to thousands of people and all the people were welcoming him, welcoming his armies and, but this was bad, bad news to Jews, to many Jews, even though some of them did not even realize that and overnight they just felt the change a week after the onslaught.

The Adolf Eichmann was raiding the Jewish congregations, and you would find this information on mfrank. org. And basically Adolf Eichmann was sent to Austria to get rid of Jews, but the Nazis at that time did not know exactly what Jews meant. What to do with the Jews either. They knew they were wealthy, but they did not, not want Jews to be there.

So what could they do? And Adolf Eichmann, who was this vile, vicious man, devised this plan. Yeah. A Jewish paradigm. Which was to keep Jews wealth in Vienna, but kick the Jews out. So because of this policy, they arrested many Jews and threatened them to send them to the labor camps, but they would be able to keep the wealth at that time.

The violence against Jews increased and pogrom and all the violence on the streets, humiliation. It happened basically over and over. Like a week, a few days after the Anschluss. And when this, with this escalating violence, the world watched in horror. And many politicians said, we gotta help provide this humanitarian support.

So Franklin Roosevelt summoned all the nations, 32 nations, for This conference in Per Evian, and 32 nations sat down to talk about this Jewish situation for two weeks. But basically what they did was to have a vacation. At the end of the conference, 32 nations said, No, sorry, we could not accept the Jews because Britain said, We don’t want a competition.

Austria said, We, we really cannot accept anymore. Canadians said, We don’t have this. We just seriously cannot accept Jews. And Americans said, you know, we had just went through the depression. We cannot accept any competitions from Jews. I believe it. Yeah. Yeah. So basically after the NBN conference in July, those Jews were, they wanted to leave because the properties were confiscated.

The life, the, the the shops were at ransacked, were sold, alienized, but they didn’t have a place to go. And that was why it made Dr. Ho Fengshan’s action so heroic because he stepped in, he issued visas to everyone who asked against his superior’s order, who said, hey, we got to keep good diplomatic relationship with Hitler because everybody else is keeping good relationship.

We got to do what every other, everyone else is doing, but he didn’t. He issued visas and eventually at the end of his career. He lost a job because he defied his superior.

[00:18:08] Jane: And, and when you say he issued visas too, because I, of course, I like, anyone who likes historical fiction, I had to look them up after I read the book.

We’re talking not a few hundred, like thousands, I couldn’t get an exact number, but thousands and thousands of visas to Jews trying to escape Austria. Yes.

[00:18:27] Weina: Yes. From what I have found, the Jews who escaped to Shanghai, the number was 18, 000. Wow. Roughly. But after I did research about Dr. Feng Shang, I realized many people actually used his visas to get to other countries, like Palestine.

Stein and

[00:18:50] Jane: Alicia Ludwig says Dominican Republic was one of them as well, correct? Yes. Yes. Well,

[00:18:55] Weina: Dominican Republican was actually a, an anomaly because after the 32 nations, that was Dominican Republican was the only countries who later agreed to accept 10, 000 Jews.

[00:19:09] Jane: That’s right. Unless you got it right, I just got it wrong because I’m reading you fast.

That’s right. And you talk about that in the novel as well.

[00:19:15] Weina: Yes, but they never actually follow through, by the way, but they did. They did accept some.

[00:19:20] Jane: They did accept some. Amazing, amazing story. And so, you know, one thing about that I thought was so interesting too, his deeds weren’t discovered until after he died in 1997.

[00:19:32] Weina: Yeah, I know. So he, he wrote his memoir in Chinese. It’s published in Hong Kong in 1990, but you know, it was in Chinese, probably nobody actually paid attention to it. And then he, after his his death there was an obituary on the newspaper and then Eric Saul. The founder of the Visas for Life read this obituary, and in the obituary, there was one paragraph mentioning that he saved Jews life, one Jewish friend’s life in, during World War II.

So Eric Saw looked into that, contact the family, and then conducted a very thorough investigation about the visas and who actually received the visas and all that it took them two years to verify the real account.

[00:20:28] Jane: Fascinating. Well, that’s amazing. So in terms of, you know, this is historical fiction.

Much of it is based on facts. Which is, I think that’s something all historical fiction writers struggle with is the balance between fact and fiction in your storytelling and how do you, what do you, are there strict rules you adhere to? How do you strike that balance?

[00:20:51] Weina: Oh, Jane, you know exactly what you’re talking about.

[00:20:57] Jane: Give me the magic solution because I don’t know how to solve

[00:21:00] Weina: it. It sounds like you’ve written like a number of historical fiction already.

[00:21:07] Jane: I know, I’m still learning. You are an expert in writing historical fiction and I’m a big fan of your novels. Thank you.

[00:21:15] Weina: Likewise. So for me I, there are many there are a few cardinal rules.

The first thing is the timeline. You know the major historical facts. We, we have to follow that. You cannot change that. Yes. Totally agree. And also historical fiction is the, the main character has to be there in the setting. Yes. If he’s not there, I, I don’t think it will make it up. But it also depends on the main story.

story, the main characters. I, I’m very rigid about following the main characters timeline motive and make that align with the historical facts. But for the secondary characters, I let it slip. I make, I play around with it. Yeah. Yeah. I follow the plot because secondary characters, we all know we put the secondary characters there so they can illuminate the main character and they can create obstacles or create extra layer for the the main character.

So the secondary characters timeline I, I’m not very strict about that.

[00:22:34] Jane: Yeah, that makes sense. I totally agree with all that. So my next question is more like from in terms of your, your personal background. You were born in China and you came to the US at 24 mm-Hmm. . And, but you write fiction so beautifully.

Like when did you start writing fiction? Like, that’s just amazing to me. When did you learn the language and when did you decide? I’m going to write novels in English.

[00:23:01] Weina: Okay, this, this is a long story. I have wanted to be a writer since I was in third grade. Of course, at that time, I lived in China and I learned everything in Chinese.

I did not know anything about English. I started to Changed to English after I was 19, 19, yes, when I finished the first Novel in Chinese, and there was this kind of story. I don’t know if it’s appropriate to say it here But okay, let me just tell you because you’re a good friend So when I was 19, I finished writing a novel in Chinese And I pitched it to an editor and a publisher in Shanghai.

I was in Shanghai at that time. And the publisher invited me, called me, invited me to a bar. And then in the bar, he, he gave me a finger. He did not talk about any of my, my manuscript or anything. He gave me a finger and asked me to lick it.

I was, I was 19. I did not know what it meant, but I was devastated. And I was like, okay, this is what’s happening. I will never be able to publish my novel in Chinese.

Yeah, so I burned the manuscript and I decided I’m going to learn a different language. And I got an Oxford English to Chinese dictionary and I read everything from front to back and made notes of that and I listened to BBC, CNN, radios, so I could learn English my own way. Amazing. I came to the U

s. and I enrolled myself in a graduate school to polish my English and that’s how.

[00:25:01] Jane: Incredible. Incredible. So impressive. So we’re, so we’re talking about writing and, and you’ve always wanted to be a writer. What is, I always ask every writer that comes on here, what’s your process? Are you a plotter or a pants?

Are you somewhere in between plot, you know, the terms? Is that plotter? You know, do you plot things out? Do you write by see your pants? And you know, what, what’s your, what’s your own process?

[00:25:26] Weina: I, I’m a plotter. I don’t know about you. Are you a plotter or pencil? I totally am, yeah. . Oh, okay. Yeah. I, I have to have the whole.

Idea in my head. And before I even start, I have to know what’s going to happen at the end. So the entire story is already in my head, but it does take me a long time to find a concept that’s interesting. And it’s not boring. And that’s kind of unique. And this is something that will really excites me. Yes.

Yeah, that this is kind of this is kind of process. I think we all. have, but yeah, the plot is the thing that really fascinates me. And then after I, I have this plot, I would start to write the first draft and I will find the characterization, like what’s, what kind of character would be interesting and to make the whole story more dramatic that way.

And they will usually come up to me. Excellent.

[00:26:25] Jane: I have a couple more questions, and then if anyone has questions, you can put them in the Q& A or in the chat, and I will ask Wayna. So what is your favorite part of the whole writing process, and what is the part that you dread the most?

[00:26:41] Weina: My, my favorite part is It’s just writing.

It’s just writing, writing out like funny dialogue or beautiful sentences. That’s my favorite part of internal dialogue and reflection of life. And when I feel, when I have some good sentences come out, that makes me really happy. And the dreadful part is like two parts. One is the first draft, oh my god, Jane.

It’s just, it’s just terrible. I was like, how can I crank out one more word?

[00:27:16] Jane: One from a stone, I always say.

[00:27:20] Weina: Yeah, the first draft is just nail biter.

[00:27:23] Jane: The hardest,

[00:27:23] Weina: yeah. Yeah, and then the other part was the copy editing.

[00:27:29] Jane: That can be tricky. Yeah, that’s, it’s just very tedious, right? Like, yeah, that is. God bless the copy editors.

They’re like rock stars. But yeah, I, that is very, that can be really tricky, especially when they, when I scrub things like continuity, like of days or something weird like that, that it’s like not an easy fix next necessarily. So yeah, yeah, I hear you. I know we have, you know, aspiring authors in the audience.

What’s the best advice you can give them about writing and publishing?

[00:28:03] Weina: For writing I’m, for me, I, it took me 10 years to write and publish the first novel, The Moon in the Palace. And there was the novel about Empress Wu.

[00:28:15] Jane: How many years did it take for you? About the same for my first novel.

[00:28:19] Weina: Yeah, so you know, it’s, it’s not a race. Yeah, no. Yeah, it’s, you gotta be persistent. You gotta just keep at it. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Keep doing that. For me, what I did was to write every day. No matter what happens, I just sit down, typing one word, put a comma in there, that’s one word, that’s fine. But I just had to have this habit of making time for myself, for my writing, so I can keep myself connected to the story.

So I used to tell people that, you know, the characters of your manuscript, the relationship between the writer and the characters of the manuscript is like you and a mistress, because if you don’t invest in the mistress, you forget about her, and she’s going to run away and go find someone.

[00:29:17] Jane: Right, right.

That’s a good, that’s good advice. Excellent. What what is the best way for readers to stay in touch with you, and, and do you do Zoom with book clubs?

[00:29:27] Weina: I, I do consider it if you reach out to me. I, I’m not very active social media wise. I’m terrible. That’s okay.

[00:29:37] Jane: Yeah. No, no, I know it’s hard.

[00:29:38] Weina: Yeah.

People reach out to me and ask me, Hey do you have this availability? I will consider it.

[00:29:45] Jane: Good to know. And then do you want to share what you’re working on now? Or are you not ready? Because I know some are superstitious about that. So if you’re not ready, it’s up to you.

[00:29:55] Weina: I am. I’m yeah, I can’t really say too much about it, but we, we are about signing the contract now.

And it’s, it’s also a story set in China. It’s about a Chinese orphan’s journey to reach for her dream and a living started in 1925 and ended in 1965. Wow.

[00:30:19] Jane: Amazing. It sounds amazing. I can’t wait to see the announcement go out. That’s awesome. That’s excellent. Congratulations. Yeah. Thank you, Jane.

Thank you. There’s two people who have asked the question about us, Carolyn Sylvester. Thank you, Carolyn and Lynn. There are a long time listeners watchers to explain the importance of the title. Night Angels to the story.

[00:30:42] Weina: Oh, okay. Wow. And you, you have very smart fans. I can tell you, Jane. Because Night Angels title, we changed it so many times.

Oh, really? Yes, we changed it so many times. Like, like, it’s like a plot. And when I have a story, the first thing that came to my mind is the title. So, the first time when I, I was thinking about, when I was writing this story, the title for the book I had was Goodbye, Vienna. Ah, oh, that’s good. Yeah, that was, that was the title I had from beginning to the end.

It was Goodbye, Vienna. And then six months before the book was published, we found another the editor told me like, Hey, we know we cannot use the title because there’s another Lake Union book that says good night Vienna. Oh, I didn’t know that. Yeah. So they were like, okay, that’s too close. So we have to change another title change to another title.

I was like, okay, let me think. And so I brainstormed, ask my friends, ask my, my family. And they said, They said, how about the Angels of Vienna? I was like, oh, I love it! Yeah, that’s a good tip! So, like, you need a prude. And then, a few months before the book was published, I googled it and found out there was another book called exactly The Angels of Vienna.

Oh, you’re kidding. Wow. Yeah, so it’s like, ah, we gotta change it again. So, my new editor came up with a few titles and I was fine with Night Angels, so we stick to it. Ah, okay.

[00:32:28] Jane: And did you have much say in the beautiful cover? I,

[00:32:32] Weina: oh my goodness, yeah, the top, the beautiful cover,

[00:32:36] Jane: there’s so many changes as well.

Covers are hard. They’re so hard. I know.

[00:32:42] Weina: Yeah. Hard. So what I really wanted was to have the women wear the red dress. But they said, why not? Can’t do that because the last rose of Shanghai already had the red dress. People are going to identify it to like exactly the same. So I was like, okay, blue dress is fine.

[00:33:00] Jane: Oh, Tim Hayes asked, do you use a stream of consciousness approach when you’re writing or a definitive chapter approach? When you’re, when you’re writing, and it’s actually,

[00:33:13] Weina: yes, I do jump around sometimes, but sometimes I also just let my thoughts just go, let it go and do chapter by chapter. Okay, and

[00:33:24] Jane: on that note to you, right from 3 different points of view.

from, from Grace and from Doc, the doctor and from Lola, the tutor’s point of view. And you alternate chapters that way, like d was that, that was intentional from the start. You said, you know, I, I, I, I find it, I have not written from, do multiple points of view. Like, do you find that challenging or was that easier and did you.

Did you write one point of view first and then the others? Or how did you do that?

[00:33:55] Weina: That was my second book with multiple POVs. So I was, I was like very familiar with the process. But with my first one, with the dual timeline, a past and a present timeline, The Last Rose of Shanghai. Oh my God, that was very difficult.

So when I was getting to Night Angels, I knew exactly what to do. I wrote I wrote Grace’s story first, and Dr. Ho Fengshan, and then Lola after that.

[00:34:23] Jane: Oh, okay. I think, you know, one thing I was, I listened to my agent had, Carly, has the Shit No One Tells You About Writing podcast, and they were talking about Writing from multiple points of view and how if you do that, though, each point of view has to advance the story.

Yes, you do that very smoothly. But I think that that’s important. You can’t just be kind of telling the same scene from different points of view or else the story kind of stalls out.

[00:34:50] Weina: Yes, it’s very important to that, even though you have narratives from different people, they all. Like advancing unison and they all end dramatically so readers can keep moving, keep being hooked and read, read forward because this is one thing when you have multiple narratives, you feel like at the end, you are losing readers already.

And if the ending is not strong, readers is not gonna keep going.

[00:35:19] Jane: Yeah, follow you. Yeah, different characters. I totally agree. What did you have a favorite book growing up or a book that made you want to be a writer?

[00:35:33] Weina: Oh, that’s interesting. So I grew up in China. All the stuff I read was in Chinese and I did read a lot of Marvels about Kung Fu, which was a big genre at that time.

Oh, wow. Yeah, and I did like them. And, but I cannot say which book that made me a writer. I think we, we just, some people just, just wanted to do that, just wanted to be a writer, right? I’m not good at doing anything else, and writing is the only thing I do.

[00:36:02] Jane: Well, you’re doing extremely well. I want to just wrap up.

So you can readers can reach out to you if they’re interested in a zoom book club or anything like that. Yeah. And you’re let me put if you want to put your website in the chat. So that that would be great. This is amazing. I’m so glad we finally got to chat. Wayna and everyone enjoyed the conversation.

There’s lots of nice, nice comments about how I heard your book sounds wonderful. Can’t wait to get it started and reading. Thanks. So Jennifer and Ventino says, thanks. So wonderful to hear. Oh, and Ken Burns is the documentarian. I must, I want to add Ken Burns did the Holocaust documentary.

[00:36:45] Weina: Oh, this is lovely, Jane. You got so many fans.

[00:36:49] Jane: Oh, they’re so amazing. Barbara Harrington. Yeah, thank you everyone for coming. And thank you again for being on and I will I’ll send you the podcast and the YouTube recording when, when my husband Charlie does them, not me.

All right, everyone have a good night. Thank you so much again.

[00:37:07] Weina: All right. Thank you for having me, Jane. Take care. I’ll see you soon. Bye everyone. Have a good evening. Thank you. Bye bye.

[00:37:13] Jane: Have a good summer. Bye.


Hosted by Jane Healey, Historical Happy Hour is a live interview and podcast featuring premiere historical fiction authors and their latest novels.

Jane Healey

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