Happy New Year! It’s time for some Q&A with the authors.
Question: If you could choose a theme song for this story, what song would it be?
Xingqun: For the theme song, I would go with Priscilla Chan’s “Thousands of Songs” (Qin Qin Que Ge/千千闕歌). This song speaks of separation and a deep longing to see one another again although that chance may never come. While it certainly hints at romantic love *cough*, I feel that this song can be equally applicable to how Huizhong is separated from her loving family and how Chunfeng is separated from Qiuhuo during the second part of the story.
Taki: This is a tough one, if only because there are so many good songs out there. I’d probably go with Xiang Si Feng Yu Zhong – if merely for the title of the song. Chunfeng and Huizhong, right? *laughs* Well, it’s actually a song about relationships, but I can kind of see our characters’ relationships played out in the lyrics. There’s also Flight of the Silverbird, which takes you on a journey from a small seaside village to the expansive countryside, to the great bustling capital, to a fierce fight with the authorities. Isn’t that our story in a nutshell? Excuse me while I go listen to the song again.
Question: Which was the hardest scene to write and why?
Xingqun: Of all the scenes in the story, the hardest scene for me was the final showdown with Black Owl and his gang. It was hard to visualize the entire battle from Huizhong’s perspective as feasibly she cannot pay attention to all the skirmishes around her. I settled for focusing on Huizhong’s fight and her interaction with Black Owl, while depicting the other battles as happening in the background. Taki helped me tremendously in White Owl’s entry in the fray. I was having a lot of trouble trying to fit him into the fight and keeping his actions in character.
Taki: Rather than the hardest scene, I’d say the hardest chapter – and the chapter that I am still most dissatisfied with – is chapter 11. It’s a reunion chapter that is running high on emotions. How much time-skip information to impart without overloading the readers? How much rampant emotions to depict without interrupting the flow of the story? The chapter was a jumbled mess at the beginning, and a lot of it did not even make it into the first draft, let alone the final draft. What was left, however, was a barebones, minimal information chapter that did not mesh well with the rest of the story. A few adjustments and suggestions from my coauthor smoothed out some of the kinks, but still leaves a chapter with much left to be desired. Maybe we’ll rewrite it one day.
Question: Which characters, if any, are based on a person that you know in real life? Please elaborate.
Xingqun: Huizhong’s parents are loosely based off my family. Official Zhang is sensible and fair as shown when he listens to Huizhong’s request to postpone her engagement to Shen Mingzhi. Lady Zhang is similar to a “tiger mom,” one who runs the household efficiently and makes sure her children behave properly and study hard. A mother’s strictness with her child is how she expresses the unconditional love for her child by ensuring that the child grows up to be independent and responsible. The other characters have no resemblance to anyone I know in real life.
Taki: Unfortunately (or fortunately?), none for me. I don’t know anyone as wild as the characters I depict, and I’m not sure I want to know any *laughs*
Question: It’s the battle of the nobles! In a contest of poetry, who would win — Yuwen Xiang or Shen Mingzhi? Why?
Xingqun: Yu– Oh, I mean Shen Mingzhi, of course. Sorry, Yuwen. *gets hit by a banana peel from the audience* Although I am sure you could compose a bawdy poem when you drink a few cups with Ganzorig. *cackles evilly*
Shen Mingzhi’s nature, if you have not noticed, is that of a romantic. Aside from enjoying the finer things in life, he is perceptive of human nature and often writes and paints to express his feelings.
Taki: Shen Mingzhi, definitely. He’s got more of the scholarly air than Yuwen Xiang, who is more the scheming court official type. Although he’s not a schemer… or is he? *shrugs* We’ll find out if there’s enough interest in the backstory of these two!
Question: What historical and cultural elements inspired this story’s setting?
Xingqun: I am primarily inspired by Chinese history and literature. The story’s setting is supposed to take place in the Tang/early Song dynasties. This was the time period when ancient China opened up trade with the world. In addition to studying history, I have read some Chinese literature classics: Journey to the West, Three Kingdoms, Water Margin, and The Seven Heroes and Five Gallants. These classics depict a lot of interesting characters, politics, and fighting scenes that make a story suspenseful and enjoyable. I tried to include some of those elements in my writing. The other major influence is Hong Kong movies, such as those by Jackie Chan and Stephen Chow. The slapstick kung fu and humor from those shows gave me some inspiration for the banter between Shen Mingzhi and Ganzorig, and Fuxin’s tricks.
Taki: I watch quite a bit of historical Chinese dramas, so I think the setting is a bit of a mishmash of all the shows I’ve ever watched. Multiple settings just get jumbled up in my head and the result is somewhat of a puzzle that my coauthor – probably to her chagrin – had to sort through and put together into something somewhat coherent. Sorry Xingqun!
Got any more questions? Feel free to ask in the comment section below!
The plan for 2019?
Xingqun here! I plan to put up a short story the following Sunday January 13, 2019. I may have a few drawings in the works too, so stay tuned.
As for Taki, you need to push her to release a new short story! *hint hint*