The history of Kylie Chan’s Xuan Wu/Dark Heavens series

Black Jade by Kylie ChanIt was during a question and answer session at Australian Comic-Con that I had something of an epiphany when a young man put his hand up and asked me: ‘Can we have more turtle sex, please?’

My reply was: ‘No. But there’ll be snake on snake, is that okay?’

He was delighted. From that moment on, I was the Turtle Sex Lady, and it’s a title that’s clung to me since.

When I started writing the Xuan Wu/Dark Heavens series (the first book is White Tiger; the current release, Black Jade, is book nine), it was designed to be a trilogy, but the story grew to be three trilogies, a massive series of nine books. I adapted the Chinese martial arts historical dramas that were on the TV every night in Hong Kong (and I lived there for ten years!) to a modern Western audience. I wrote the main character as an Australian woman, and had her discover the fascinating wonder and depth that is the Chinese Buddhist and Taoist pantheon.

She falls in love with the God of Martial Arts, Xuan Wu. When I returned to Australia from Hong Kong, left my IT career and started to become a writer, I had to do a massive amount of research into the nature of Chinese mythology, as well as study martial arts (Wing Chun and Chow Gar) myself so that the kung fu sequences in the stories would be authentic. The mythology is everywhere in Hong Kong and never commented on – you see a monkey riding a cloud holding a staff, and immediately know who he is. So I investigated Fung Shui, Taoism, Buddhism, and came to know the Chinese pantheon extremely well – and to understand exactly how weird they were.

I nearly stopped when I discovered  the God of Martial Arts, Xuan Wu’s true self – I wanted this to be a romantic relationship, and he’s a reptile. In fact he’s two reptiles – a turtle and a snake – twined around each other. He’s an ancient fertility deity (turtles were widely known to have no genitals, and female turtles had to have their babies with male snakes), is considered strongly demonic (the Bodhisattva Kwan Yin helped him to turn to good) and also has a human form that is widely worshipped in Asia as a bringer of rain and destroyer of demons. Xuan Wu is the deity of the North, black, winter, cold, death, and yin. So I needed to create a love story between a human woman and a guy who’s basically two reptiles.

When in doubt, I generally kick the door in and go there, so I went there with the Xuan Wu series. There’s a great deal of Heavenly and Earthly politics, with the demons (who live in Chinese Hell, a very nasty place) plotting to take over the Earthly plane, enslave humanity, and then take over Heaven. Throughout the nine books, Emma learns disturbing things about her own nature and has to learn to fight the demons who are constantly coming after Xuan Wu and his daughter. A relationship builds between them, and then I had to face the idea of sex scenes between a woman and two reptiles.

So I went there. Xuan Wu can be male or female – or one of each. He’s two creatures, so I had some fun with it. It’s gratifying to know that people have come up to me and said that it wasn’t until afterwards that they realised exactly how weird what they just read was. They were swept up in the story, the conflict and romance, and the adventure that this four-thousand-year-old god and young human Australian woman have to face together.

It’s been a huge journey for me. WHITE TIGER was the first fiction I ever wrote, and Voyager Australia accepted it for publication immediately, and signed me for the rest of the series of nine books. (The reading order for the books is on my website ; read them in the order Dark Heavens Trilogy; Journey to Wudang Trilogy, then Celestial Battle trilogy. Start at White Tiger.) I’m now a full-time writer with a bestselling series, and the Xuan Wu series means that many places I go, people recognise me as the Turtle Sex Lady.

And even other authors will greet me with ‘How’s the Trutle Sex Lady?’

My usual reply is ‘I’m doing really well, and planning more extremely weird interspecies sex scenes for everybody.’

And the fans are all just fine with that – in fact they cannot wait.

kylie-chan-230x300About the author: Kylie Chan is the bestselling author of the Dark Heavens and Journey to Wudang trilogies. She married a Hong Kong national in a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony and lived in Hong Kong for many years. She now lives in Queensland, Australia, with her two children.

About Black Jade:

From the international bestselling author of The Dark Heavens and Journey to Wudang series..

The Heavenly defenses struggle to hold against the combined might of the Eastern and Western demon hordes. The God of War Xuan Wu is now at full strength — but is his might enough to safeguard the realm when half the Heavens are already in their hands? John and Emma fight a last-ditch desperate struggle to conserve their kingdom and their protect their families.

But will the kingdom ever be the same again?



Harper Voyager on Twitter