Manhattanville Alumna Turns Thesis into Novel


Manhattanville Alumna Turns Thesis into Novel

February 20, 2017 • Anonymous

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Celeste Lim M.F.A.’14 wrote “The Crystal Ribbon” as her thesis for her Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Manhattanville College. The novel has recently been published and released by Scholastic Press in January of this year.

“It is a childhood dream come true. I bawled for a whole five minutes when I received my author copies!” Lim said. “I am emotionally unable to stop feeling thankful for all the people that made this possible, and it is a wonderful and humbling experience.”

“The Crystal Ribbon” is about a girl in Medieval China who was sold as a child bride to be a nursemaid to her 3-year-old husband, and with the help from magical creatures, jing, she discovers her own place in the world. Lim wrote the story to bring attention to the tradition of the tongyang xi—the child bride—which is still practiced in parts of China today despite being banned, and to teach young readers about the culture, similar to how she learned about America before coming here from Malaysia.

“It was a magical experience coming to the U.S., a place I had only gotten to read about and watch on TV, and I really wish children could experience the same magic, wonder, and joy when they visit foreign lands,” said Lim, who is Chinese, but was born and raised in Malaysia.

She plans on continuing this goal in her future endeavors, which include a possible sequel to “The Crystal Ribbon” and a story about a warrior princess living in the era of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms, who tries to survive her father’s insidious harem, and is eventually forced to betray her kingdom to save it.

According to Lim, the creative writing program played an essential role in helping her get published. She came up with the idea for the novel in a children’s literature course, which also happened to be the first course she took. Then, under the guidance of Jeff Bens, chair of the undergraduate creative writing program and Lim’s thesis advisor, she was able to complete the manuscript.

She was also encouraged to reach out to agent Rosemary Stimola at a Summer Writers’ Week seminar led by Thanhha Lai, author of the 2011 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature “Inside Out & Back Again.” Stimola is now Lim’s agent.

“I am so indebted to Manhattanville and all that it has done for me that I can never feel as though I've done enough in repayment,” Lim said of the College and its creative writing program.

Lim will return to the College on February 21 for a book launch celebration sponsored by the M.F.A in creative writing program at Manhattanville.

The event will take place at 6 p.m. in the Barat House and is free and open to the public.

College is located at 2900 Purchase Street, Purchase, NY 10577.


MFA in Creative WritingJeff BensCeleste Lim