By Rebecca Ballenger, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Judy I. Lin’s Duology of Tea is steeped in the terrain of the Taiwanese mountains, known for oolong teas. Lin, who was born in Taiwan and now lives in Canada, wanted to explore tea ceremonies around the world for a story brewing in her imagination. In that process, she came right back to the type of tea ceremony that she grew up with. Imagining the tea ceremony has magical properties for the sake of a young adult novel posed challenges.
“It’s not like blasting a fireball from your hands or any type of elemental magic where you can just directly influence the world around you, because it’s a quieter sort of magic. You have to be the one drinking it, or you have to make the other person drink it, or you have to have the ingredients available to you,” says Lin. You also must have all the specialized tools. That thought process inspired the magical competition that brings the protagonist, Ning, to the palace in A Magic Steeped In Poison, book one of the Duology of Tea. The result is an immersive young adult fantasy that transports readers to another time and place and reinforces the importance of relationships and trust in our lives. Continue reading