HOW DID MINGMEI CONCEIVE THE WITCH'S MARKET?
I was inspired to write my 7th novel The Witch’s Market based on two incidents. About three years ago I read an article by my favorite Chinese author Echo about her trip to the Witches’ Market in Bolivia. Though the article was short, somehow the title capered my imagination and I decided to write a whole novel about the witches’ market – when I had no idea what this novel would be about.
However, instead of setting my novel in Bolivia, I decided to make it happen on the Canary Islands. These seven islands are guarded by goddesses who are also safe keepers for the hidden golden apples of Aphrodite. Sailors seeking the legendary golden apples were lured to their doom by beautiful goddesses.
The Witch’s Market, besides Echo’s article, was also inspired by an incident I experienced many years ago. Once at a concert I was so
annoyed by the performer’s pretentious style that I stared at her instrument’s strings and willed them to break. Surprisingly, a few seconds later one of the strings broke, forcing her to stop in the middle of her performance. Rather than being happy, I was frightened that I might possess some strange power. I never tried it again; the possibility that it might work was too scary, maybe even unethical. Instead I put this experience into The Witch’s’ Market.
I follow Confucius’ famous advice to respect the spirits but keep them at a distance. Mingmei Yip is a novelist writing in English about the lives and struggles of Chinese women, both in China and America. Her newest novel, The Witches’ Market (Kensington Books), is about the adventures of a young Chinese-American college professor, who suddenly finds out that she has supernatural abilities, and travels to the Canary Islands to do research on witchcraft. There she stays with a castle owner who tries to seduce her, is menaced by a coven of very real witches, uncovers a decades-old murder, and amidst all these adventures, finds love with a village craftsman. Mingmei’s other novels are: Secret of a Thousand Beauties (Ghost bride embroiderer); The Nine Fold Heaven (revenge of a singer- spy); Skeleton Women (femmes fatales), Song of the Silk Road (woman adventurer); Petals from the Sky (inter-racial love story); Peach Blossom Pavilion (last Chinese geisha). Mingmei’s novels have been sold to ten countries including China, Russia, and Poland. In addition to her novels, Mingmei has written and illustrated two children’s books.: Chinese Children’s Favorite Stories and Grandma Panda’s China Storybook, Legends, Traditions, and Fun, both from Tuttle Publishing. Mingmei is also a renowned qin musician, calligrapher and painter. In Hong Kong, she was a columnist for seven major newspapers. She has appeared on over sixty TV and radio programs in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and the US. She got her Ph.D. in musicology from the Sorbonne, University of Paris.