To make it easy for readers to differentiate them, I used the first character of my fourteen novels and novellas to form a couplet: “Shooting white deer in the endless drifting snow; Smiling while writing about the divine and chivalrous who leaned on a beautiful lover.”
When I wrote my first novel, I had no idea whether I would write a second novel. When I wrote the second novel, I did not think about what theme the third novel would have, not to mention the book title. Hence, this couplet definitely cannot be considered elegant. “Drifting snow” cannot be matched with “smiling while writing” and “white” and “beautiful” both have oblique tones. However, if I were to issue a couplet matching challenge, there would be complete freedom over the choice of characters, so I would have chosen characters that were meaningful and followed to the rules.
Many readers wrote in with the same question: “Among your novels, which do you consider is the best? Which is your favourite?” I cannot answer this question. When I wrote these novels, I had a wish: “Do not repeat characters, plot, emotions, and even details that have been written before.” Limited by my abilities, this wish did not seem like it was achievable, but I always strived towards this direction.
Generally speaking, this fifteen novels are all different, each infused with my emotions, thoughts, and most importantly, emotions, that I had when I wrote them. I love the good characters in every novel. Their encounters make me feel happy or sad, sometimes very sorrowful. As for the writing technique, I improved in the later years. However, writing skills are not the most crucial. The important elements are the personality and emotions of the writer.
These novels have all been adapted into films and television series in Hong Kong and Taiwan, with some even having three or four different adaptations. Besides these, there were also plays, Beijing operas, Cantonese operas and other types of shows. Hence, the second question from readers: “Which film or television series adaptation do you consider the most successful? Which protagonists in the shows are the most accurate portrayal of the original character?”
The presentation of films and televisions is completely different from novels, so it is very difficult to make a comparison. Television series are longer and thus easier to develop the story, whereas films are greatly restricted. Moreover, reading a novel involves the process of visualising characters by both the author and the reader.
For people who read the same the same novel, the protagonists that appear in their minds might not be the same. This is because aside from the words in the books, readers draw from their personal experiences, personalities, emotions, and preferences. In your heart, you will meld the protagonist with your lover, and the lover of others is surely different from yours. However, film and television fix the appearances of the characters and leave the audience with no room for imagination.
Wuxia novels succeeded the long tradition of Chinese classical novels. The earliest wuxia novels in China were probably the brilliant literary works among Tang legends, such as The Legend of Qiu Ranke,6《虬髯客传》 Red String,7《红线》 Nieyinniang,8《聂隐娘》 and The Slave of Kunlun.9《昆仑奴》 These were followed by Water Margin,10《水浒传》 The Three Heroes and Five Gallants,11《三侠五义》- This was initially published as the The Tale of Loyal Heroes and Righteous Gallants, before it was renamed The Three Heroes and Five Gallants. The novel was later revised and published under the title The Seven Heroes and Five Gallant Legend of the Heroic Sons and Daughters,12《儿女英雄传》 and others. The more serious modern wuxia novels place greater emphasis on the themes of justice, integrity, self-sacrificing, eradicating the powerful and protecting the weak, national spirit, and traditional Chinese concept of ethics.
Readers do not need to excessively question and analyse the exaggerated descriptions of martial arts in the novels. Some things are impossible in reality, and are merely traditions of Chinese wuxia novels. Nieyinniang shrunk her body to sneak into another person’s guts, then she leapt out from his mouth. No one would believe this is real, yet the story of Nieyinniang has been enjoyed by people in the past millennium or so.
My early novels held a very strong sense of legitimacy of the Han people’s imperial dynasties. In the later years, the equality of all the races of the Chinese nation became the main theme. That was due to the progress in my perception of history. This was especially apparent in Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils, White Horse Neighing in the West Wind, and The Deer and the Cauldron. Wei Xiaobao’s father could have been a Han, Manchu, Mongol, Hui, or Tibetan. Even in my first novel The Book and the Sword, the protagonist Chen Jialuo eventually converted to Islam.
Good and bad people exist in every ethnicity, religion, or profession. There were bad emperors, and there were good ones. There were dreadful officials, and there were good officials that really cared for the people. The Han people, Manchu people, Khitan people, Tibetans in the novels… there were good and bad people. Among monks, priests, lamas, scholars, and warriors, there were also all sorts of personalities and moral values.
Some readers liked to divide people into two categories to differentiate the good from bad, and at the same time made deductions about a whole based on an individual. That is definitely not the author’s intention.
Historical events and characters need to be viewed based on the circumstances back then. There had been fierce battles along the borders between Song and Liao, Yuan and Ming, Ming and Qing, Han and other ethnics such as Khitan, Mongol, and Manchu. The Mongols and Manchu people used religion as a political tool. The novels depicted the views and mentalities of people back then, so they cannot be judged from the perspective of later generations or modern people.
My purpose in writing novels is to depict characters and write about the human emotions. The novels do not allude to anything. If there were any rebuke, it would be directed at the foul and dark nature of humanity. The popular ideologies in society are always changing, but humanity hardly changes.
There had been many changes, additions and deletions since the novels were completed, but numerous errors and inadequacies inevitably remain. I treat every reader as a friend. Comments of friends are naturally always welcomed.
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