Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Q&A with Lyn Liao Butler




Lyn Liao Butler is the author of the new novel Someone Else's Life. Her other novels include The Tiger Mom's Tale. She is also a personal trainer, fitness instructor, and yoga instructor.


Q: What inspired you to write Someone Else’s Life, and how did you create your characters Annie and Serena?


A: When my husband and I bought the lake house we currently live in, we found out that we’d taken it from a buyer who had had their mortgage turned down twice and were about to ask for an extension. The sellers were freaking out since they’d already moved, and we were told to come in with our best offer if we really wanted the house.


After we moved in, I started to see this white car parked in front of our house, but whenever I looked, I never saw anyone in the car. And then my husband started seeing the white car too. I was convinced it was the previous buyer, coming back to harm us for stealing their house. I imagined her sitting out there, thinking, that’s my house, my life. And thus, the characters of Annie and Serena were born.


If you’ve read the book, you’ll see that much of what I said above is familiar – lol.

Q: The novel is set in Kauai, Hawaii, during a storm--how important is setting to you in your writing?


A: The setting is very important. We love Kauai, it is the place of my heart and I knew I wanted to set this book there. My husband and our son lived in Kauai during the pandemic so I could research this book.


It started off as an upmarket novel, much like my first two books, but somehow turned into a thriller. I found the idea of something sinister happening on such a beautiful place intriguing, and leaned into it.


Q: Most of the story takes place over the course of one day. How did that timing affect the pacing of the novel?


A: It was very hard to write, pacing wise. For me, it was supposed to be a slow burn, building up to the tension and reveal. Some people may think it’s too slow in the beginning, but I wanted to build up the two characters, make them real people, before the reason for Serena knocking on the door becomes apparent.


Q: Without giving anything away, did you know how the story would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: No, the ending is not at all what it originally was. First of all, the first version I wrote was a multicultural family drama, much like Amy Tan’s books. And then when it turned into a thriller, it had a different ending when we pitched it to my editor. As I started writing the book, what is now the ending just wrote itself in.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I just turned in my next thriller (out in February 2024) to my editor, and I have a romcom titled Crazy Bao You coming out later this year. I am also working on an upmarket novel right now, which will be set in Kauai and Taiwan.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I am fueled by sunshine, papayas, and Mai Tais.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

No comments:

Post a Comment