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Ask An Author 3.0 #13


astone2292

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Wow. Time flies, doesn't it? This marks my twelfth Ask An Author 3.0 article, and I'm so glad I messaged Renee a year ago. This has been an absolute blast! 

But enough of that. It's the first Wednesday of the month, and we have another set of questions for one our gifted authors! @Kong Wen Hui brings fantastic answers for this week's AAA. Let's get into it! 

    

The Spirit of the Plum Blossom Tree
Kong Wen Hui

Status: In Progress / Sub-genres: Historical Romance, Alternate History, Dragon Fantasy, Mythic Fantasy / Rating: Mature

Wanted criminal Hong Shen finally meets his end after being stabbed in the back by a comrade. As he makes his final resting place under a dead plum tree, he submits to death. 

Instead, he receives two choices: die, or be given a second chance. 

To take the second chance means he must complete a trial in the past in order to return to the present. But what he doesn't know is that the trial isn't only difficult for him, but even more difficult for the person he must be to fulfill it.

 

The Spirit of the Plum Blossom Tree is a unique take on second chances. How did you come up with the idea to put Hong Shen in the past? 

Putting Hong Shen in the past was not actually my original intention. At first, I was going to have the whole story take place in Ancient China, but I had a wonderful idea when I was drinking my morning coffee a couple years ago. There is a concept commonly taught in America that we must learn from history if we do not wish to repeat it. What better way to have a modern criminal learn from his previous ways then to experience the hardships of a historical prince?

Of course, I was also heavily influenced by MXTX's novels, and I simply love the ancient cultures in general. ( ´∀`)

 

You’ve built a vibrant and believable world set in ancient China.  Is it all part of the fictional setting, or is there any ‘true’ history included?

The world of the Guan Dynasty in my story is a fictional setting. However, there will be true history incorporated into the story. 

I think of the Guan Dynasty as a mirror time period that existed at the same time as the historical Song Dynasty. They were two different Empires, one fictional and the other true, but some accurate events that occurred in the Song Dynasty will affect or influence the Guan Dynasty in different ways. 

They may not all happen in The Spirit of the Plum Blossom Tree, though, as I plan to have multiple stories set in my fictional dynasty in the future. 

 

What advice do you have for authors looking to write stories in the historical fiction genre? 

For those who are interested in writing stories of the historical fiction genre, I will warn you now - it is difficult! If you wish to write something historically accurate, a lot of research is recommended. Specific people are the hardest, for if you want to portray them correctly you have to know almost everything about them to the point you could live them. Same with time periods and scenery; you have to imagine you live in your own story. What would you see? What would you wear? What were the cultural trends of the time? What is your purpose?

The purpose is probably the most important aspect of historical fiction. After all, if your characters have no purpose and meaning in the past, why are they there?

As difficult as writing historical fiction is, it is also incredibly fun, and I believe it gives you a better understanding of certain times in history than most other people, besides maybe historians. If you have a passion for it, then you will continue to grow and improve, and nothing is better to read and enjoy than a story filled with an author's love! (。•̀ᴗ-)✧

    

I loved the last Q&A! Historical fiction is a genre I would consider a great challenge. I'm not sure I have the skill to produce a piece, but I'll check back after another twelve AAAs. As always, we're looking for more questions! If there's a story that has captured your attention and you want to learn more about it from the author's perspective, shoot me a PM with three questions. 

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Excellent new addition to the AAA feature. Great questions and answers... my interest is piqued. Thank you!

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I really hope this feature brings this story some new readers.  It's quite interesting and unique and I'm really enjoying it.  Great answers to the questions and some great advice too!  

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I am intrigued. 

You mention that getting the history correct is a bit of a challenge with characters. You also mention a few real as well as a fictional dynasty. 

The one dynasty that I enjoyed learning about over a few hours (3 or more probably) was a travelling exhibition of Genghis Khan and the different dynasties before and after him. His being the Genghisid Dynasty of the Mongol Empire. This fascinated me and actually I said to myself I wanted to learn more about dynasties as they seem like interesting histories. Not like boring Otterman Empire I leaned about in Uni history that gave me a lot of good sleeping material :gikkle: Unfortunately I have not followed through on that want as of yet :( 

So did you know a lot of the Chinese Dynasties already, or did you have to do a lot of research and reading to get up to speed? I'm just interested in how you got interested in them enough to create your own? Any suggestions on where to start to learn about a dynasty :P?

Your story will be on my reading list :yes: 

Great job to @astone2292 and @Kong Wen Hui on the interview as well as the person who came up with the questions!!

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Thank you so much @astone2292and the wonderful person who asked the questions, this was a lot of fun to experience and I will be sure to remember the AAA blogs for future authors!

13 hours ago, Headstall said:

Excellent new addition to the AAA feature. Great questions and answers... my interest is piqued. Thank you!

If your interest is piqued, nothing could make me happier! Thanks for stopping by!

9 hours ago, Valkyrie said:

I really hope this feature brings this story some new readers.  It's quite interesting and unique and I'm really enjoying it.  Great answers to the questions and some great advice too!  

Oh my goodness, this is so sweet! You have been a strong supporter and I love seeing your comments on my chapters! (≧∇≦)/

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10 hours ago, Kong Wen Hui said:

So I did laugh a little while reading this, because this must be fate playing around again. The Mongol Empire began after Genghis Khan's descendants finally conquered the remains of the southern Song Dynasty, and that happens to be the same Dynasty my fictional story is mirrored with! Whats even more hilarious is the fact that I was planning to incorporate some events from the Mongol invasion of Song in my story!

Regarding your questions, I am actually Chinese, though I only lived there for about 3 years before I moved back to the US 2 years ago. I was shocked to see how little I knew of my own culture, so I talked a lot with my high school mandarin teacher and did a LOT of research. Even now, after coming up with the idea of TSPBT and writing it, I still have just whole research days where I gather information on all sorts of things! 

If you want to learn more about dynasties, I would definitely ask some native Chinese people if you know any, and if not, certain historical websites like Brittanica have helped me. Or, I could tell you what I know, which is mostly about the Song Dynasty and mythology! But one thing is for certain - if you want to be sure you have accurate information while researching, read several different sites about the same topic and pick out what they have in common. Brittanica is usually pretty good but sometimes it leaves out certain events and has different versions of things.

Also, don't try to absorb it all at once! There are 13 major Dynasties of China and countless smaller ones, so just have fun and take it at your own pace! (^∀゚)ъ

I have learned so much through researching my stories. Good advice about not just trusting and using one source. The thing about history is that sometimes we have to make best guesses as to some of the lesser known aspects. That's easier to do when we get a better overall picture of the time. Plenty of rabbit holes to go down, though. :) 

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