If you haven’t stumbled across one of the many popular xianxia dramas on your favourite streaming service, we might have to ask if you’ve been living under a rock. Shows like The Untamed have become global sensations – and we have to admit that at least 2 out of 3 of us were swept up in its wake. Sharing some of the epic fantasy tropes of Western literature that many listeners will be familiar with, xianxia also uses Chinese folklore and traditional religious practices to create its own blend of fantastical elements. 

In this episode, we are joined by debut author, Mia Tsai, who is further mixing the two traditions, throwing in elves and an urban fantasy setting among ghosts, curses, and cultivators. We ask Mia more about xianxia and its sister genres, and how to go about incorporating different cultural elements into one epic story.

Mentioned in this episode:

  • Mo Dao Zu Shi (Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation) by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu
  • Ever Night (2018)
  • Word of Honor (2021)
  • Love Between Fairy and Devil (2022)
  • The Condor Trilogy by Jin Yong
  • Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett
  • The Dragonlance Chronicles by Weis and Hickman

Mia Tsai is a Taiwanese American author of speculative fiction. Her debut novel, a xianxia-inspired contemporary fantasy titled BITTER MEDICINE, is published by Tachyon Publications on March 14, 2023.

She lives in Atlanta with her family, and, when not writing, is a hype woman for her orchids and devoted cat gopher. Her favourite things include music of all kinds and taking long trips with nothing but the open road and a saucy rhythm section.

She has been quoted in Glamour and Washington Post’s The Lily and, in her other lives, is a professional editor, photographer, and musician. Mia is on Twitter at @itsamia and Instagram at @mia.tsai.books.