Romance Writer Grapples with Dragon Tattoo Cover

Over the weekend, the San Diego chapter of the Romance Writers of America held a seminar featuring Jeannie Lin. The high school teacher turned successful Harlequin romance author stressed to attendees the importance of a book’s first five pages.

However, in the case of The Dragon and the Pearl, Lin’s September 20 follow-up to her well-received 2010 historical romance debut Butterfly Swords, it is the cover that is generating all the pre-publication attention. There is quite obviously the very striking image of a dragon tattoo on the featured woman’s shoulder. Lin shared on Twitter that her mother seemed to disapprove, and also blogged over the weekend that it was not exactly her idea to put this image on the cover:

I considered the use of tattoos in my historical romance very carefully… Tattoos are the [Asian] mark of criminals and outlaws. They’re a signal of dishonor. I was surprised to see the tattoo appear on my heroine on the cover and can’t deny that it does look pretty cool.

The intent in the story was for the marking to be recognized as a symbol of something dark and criminal and not to be taken lightly, but I can’t get away from the fact that the story may exploit the “cool” of it in Western culture though it was not my goal to do so. Any disrespect was unanticipated and unintended.

Tomorrow’s Butterfly Swords sequel is Lin’s fifth published Harlequin title. She has also written two novellas and a compilation of short stories.

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.