Secrets, Guilt, Tension and Familial Bonds with Lyn Liao Butler
A Rising Star in Multicultural Fiction
Lyn Liao Butler has been many things: a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor, professional ballet and modern dancer, Etsy shop owner, animal lover, and now an author of two published novels, with one forthcoming. She is unlike any Asian American author I’ve ever heard of, for her road to literary stardom isn’t sprinkled with good luck or even privilege, but rather through hard work, perseverance and willingness to receive critiques.
Her journey toward being a writer began in 2013 when she moved away from her busy life in New York to a lake and started writing to her friends online about what she was up to. Soon, it morphed into stories, and by 2017, she had written two books that she felt good about. Unfortunately, the critiques she got from the querying process said otherwise. Four years and two books later, she still did not have an agent.
While reading about her journey in her blog post titled, “How I Got My Agent,” I was struck by what she said about pushing through until her dream became a reality.
“I dove back in and decided to give it everything I had. If I was going to quit writing, I would go down knowing I’d done everything I could to reach my dream.”
As an aspiring author myself, I’ve read similar stories about how writers became debut novelists and how they got their agents. Their journeys are no doubt inspiring but incredibly difficult, much like Lyn’s journey. What makes Lyn even more inspiring to me is the fact that she did not have a traditional author profile: the coveted master’s degree in writing. And like me, her first language was not English. “I don’t have an MFA, much less taken a writing class (except what was required for school),” she says. “Who did I think I was, writing a book when others with more experience couldn’t break into traditional publishing either?”
For many authors, it’s not uncommon to publish subsequent novels several years after their first novel came out. But for Lyn, this is not the case. Her debut novel, The Tiger Mom’s Tale came out during the pandemic in July 2021 and seven months later, in February 2022, her second book, Red Thread of Fate arrived. Her third book – a suspense/thriller with the most beautiful cover, titled Someone Else’s Life, is slated to come out in January 2023. In less than three years, Lyn has managed to produce (and publish!) three fantastic novels filled with drama, tension, and secrets that keep the reader turning the page, all with multicultural characters who are as complex as the worlds they inhabit.
Like Rob Hart, Lyn gives back to her community in more ways than one. She’s a foster parent to dogs and serves as a mentor for Pitch Wars, a mentoring program for unpublished/unagented authors. (I’m hoping that one day she’ll mentor me). As a mentor, Lyn uses her own experience and knowledge to help aspiring authors produce their best work and increase their chances of publication. She knows how tough the publishing industry can be and she’s there like a patient mother hen, guiding her mentees along the way. She’s an inspiration to many writers and an unstoppable force in the world of contemporary and women’s fiction. I loved the characters she’s created and can’t wait to read more of her work!
Here’s What She Had to Say About Her Work
Tell us a bit about your journey to becoming an author. Was this the career you always knew you wanted?
No, I never knew I wanted to be an author. I have always been an avid reader but wasn’t a writer and never took any writing classes or programs. But when I moved out of New York City in 2013 and my friends wanted to know what I was doing in “the country” (the suburbs really), I started a blog to keep them updated. And in 2015, those blog posts became the first book I ever wrote. I didn’t know what I was doing but have been writing ever since.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given, with regards to careers and success?
Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone’s path is different and someone who is ahead right now and experiencing great success may be down next. This is so valuable to learn since we all compare ourselves to others. I have to keep reminding myself that what I see as a failure, might be envied by others behind me and to enjoy every moment of this publishing journey, even the low points.
When you’re writing – where do you write? What is the setting?
I can write anywhere. I almost always have my laptop with me. When inspiration strikes, even at happy hour, or dinner, on the train, or waiting in the car for my son’s after-school activities, I pull out my laptop and write.
Do you have exciting projects coming up? If so, please tell us.
During the pandemic, I accidentally wrote a thriller. It was supposed to be a family drama like my first two books, but it got darker and creepier as I wrote it. My brilliant agent sold it right away and now it’s coming out in January 2023, called Someone Else’s Life.
What is your ideal comfort food?
Asian noodle soups; I could eat this every day – whether it’s ramen, pho, Chinese noodle soups, or Taiwanese Niu Rou Mian. Yum!
Which authors inspire your work the most?
Liane Moriarty, Kristan Higgins, and Abby Jimenez.
Which books did you see yourself in first?
Amy Tan’s books, Mambo in Chinatown and Lost in Translation by Jean Kwok. When I read Mambo in Chinatown, I was living on the Upper East Side at the time and was a professional ballet and modern dancer, so not only was the Asian American rep important to me, I always saw my life’s passion and where I lived in it. Jean Kwok’s books were when I first started wondering if I could write about my experiences as an Asian American to reach people like me who were immigrants to this country, or born to immigrant parents.
Is there an author that you would love to learn more about? Let us know here.