Taiwan-based author Annie Douglass Lima talks about her worst language-related disaster.

photo credit: Annie Douglass Lima

Annie Douglass Lima stood surrounded by luggage on a quiet street on Green Island, Taiwan. She and husband Floyd had just discovered that the hotel reservation they’d made wasn’t on island. It was in the city they’d just left by ferry.

“That might not have been so bad,” Lima said, “except the ferry that brought us there had already left.” The ferry only ran once per day. They were stuck on Green Island for the night, and they barely spoke Chinese.

An older woman on a scooter, probably from a local tour company, hung around trying to help. She spoke no English. Lima and her husband called up a friend who spoke Chinese and put him on the phone with the woman. Floyd and the woman as took turns speaking to their Chinese-fluent friend.

“We still didn’t really have a very clear picture of what they were figuring out for us,” Lima said.

Finally, the woman hung up the phone and gestured for Lima to get on the scooter behind her. To go where? Lima didn’t know.

“What else could I do? I grabbed my purse and laptop case, waved goodbye to Floyd, and got on behind her.”

The old woman took her to a scooter rental shop. To her relief, Lima’s husband soon arrived on another scooter – but without their luggage. The woman convinced them to rent a scooter.

Then, with Lima and her husband following on their rented scooter, the old woman and another man took them back to the ferry dock. They balanced the luggage on the three scooters, and drove off.

Eventually they arrived at a hotel where Lima was able to get a room for the night.

“Everything worked out in the end, and it’s funny to look back on now, but we were pretty stressed at the time,” Lima said. She calls it the worst language-related problem they’ve had to date.

Lima teaches at Morrison Academy in Taiwan, which educates primarily children of missionaries but also accepts local children. She’s the author of several science fiction and fantasy novels. She just published The Student and the Slave, the third book in the Krillonian Chronicles, a series that combines fantasy elements and martial arts.

Lima says she draws on life in Taiwan to flesh out her stories.

In the Krillonian Chronicles, Bensin is a teenage slave and martial artist who fights in gladiator-style games. In Taiwan, gifts or awards of money are always given in red envelopes. In the story, when Bensin wins prize money in his fights, it’s handed to him in a red envelope.

The New Year is the most important holiday in Taiwan. It’s celebrated with decorations, gifts and special meals. Lima used some of these traditions when writing about the Krillonian Empire’s New Year holiday. In the Krillonian Chronicles, characters also celebrate with music, feasting and gifts. Even slaves, like character Steene, sometimes receive inexpensive gifts, like a toothbrush and socks.

Annie Douglass Lima is hosting a giveaway to celebrate the release of The Student and the Slave. To enter, click here.

To learn more about the Krillonian Chronicles, click here.


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