In The Secret Language of Women, the first book of my Wayfarer Trilogy, I decided my main character Lian’s horoscope would be the Year of the Dog. Knowing her horoscope facilitated my understanding the protagonist for this novel. Since the book is set in China, I used Lian’s Chinese Zodiac sign to learn about her qualities and personality traits intimately so that she appeared genuine yet flawed.
She is straightforward, a warm and caring being, courageous and intelligent. When a person born under this sign falls in love, they do not ever change. Lian fell in love with an Italian sailor, and remained faithful to that love, despite the fact that she was forced into a loveless marriage.
Moreover, having visited China, a unique experience that enabled me to see in person Hong Kong, Beijing and its fabulous Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, I was able to envision Lian’s travels and travails in war-torn China, an era suffused in superstition, intrigue, culture and history.
I incorporated the themes and things I care about, such as: love, family, food and recipes, art, dragons and horses. Why? Simply because it’s straightforward to write what I know and have feelings for, and all of these ideas translated well even to a novel set in China during the Boxer Rebellion.
My own horoscope is the Year of the Horse, which was last year, so I made sure I had an important role for a horse in this novel, and I’m positive that my horoscope had incredible influence on my stars being aligned because I signed a contract for a three-book deal for my Wayfarer Trilogy with Turner Publishing.
While writing, I pictured Chinese New Year, the cleaning of the house, the distributing of red envelopes, and Lian cooking on a wok, serving rice to her beloved. This story takes place in China where live fish, most especially carp, are good Fengshui, which according to Wikipedia is a “philosophical system of harmonizing everyone with the surrounding environment.” For this reason, I put carp into a pool in the Summer Palace in Chapter 1, where Lian meets the love of her life.
Do I believe in the influence of horoscopes and how they can help round out a character? Of that there is little doubt.