(The making of) A Chinese love story
Posted by: Tautau (IP Logged)
Date: December 05, 2008 04:51PM
I am a European (female) author living in Asia. I published a number of novels in three continents, all with different subjects. The past ten years I write in English which is not my mother tongue. I am multi-lingual but don’t speak Chinese. In Thailand I am known by my nickname Tau. The themes in my books are often about self-acceptance, self-liberation, and finding a way to happiness. The past ten years I enjoy setting my novels in Asian countries. After living in the Indian Himalayas for seven years among Tibetan people, I moved to Bangkok to carry out research for a new novel. As a foreigner in this country I experience Thai culture in a different manner than the Thais. What I find interesting tends to be normal to the Thais and therefore I enjoy creating characters that spend time in a foreign country. This time I want to produce a novel with an all Asian cast.
For my new novel I decided to write about certain aspects of Thai culture seen through the eyes of two Chinese men. The book includes flashbacks of their lives in China between 1963-present.
The story is about a trip of these two friends, one a Chinese man of 45, the protagonist and narrator of the story (I call him Chen Ming). Ming is a conservative military officer with a wife and a teenage son from Taiyuan, Shanxi Province. His best friend, also aged 45, moved to Beijing in the 1980s to study and become a plastic surgeon. He remains unmarried. (I call him Dr. Wong Yong).
The sub-theme of the book has to do with the son of Ming, a teenage boy who suffers from gender identity disorder. Though raised as a boy, at age 15 (in 2008), he has one desire: to become a girl. Unlike the boy’s mother, Ming is understanding and accepting and rather than trying to make his son a "real" man, Ming is sensitive enough to find a solution to his child’s problem, rather than a way to cure him and make him "normal". Ming travels to Beijing to speak to his old friend Yong who is now a renowned cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon with international experiences. Though unfamiliar with gender reassignment surgery, Dr. Yong is helpful and willing to help Ming’s son by researching the phenomenon of gender identity disorder. Dr. Yong has a Chinese-Thai surgeon-friend who lives and works in Bangkok and who specializes in gender reassignment surgery. Ming and Yong travel to Bangkok shortly after the Beijing Olympics in order to meet this surgeon and to learn more about homosexuality and transsexualism. Because of the political problems in Thailand and the closure of Bangkok’s main airports, they are unable to return to China and see themselves forced remain in Bangkok longer than planned. During this period Ming and Yong have the opportunity to observe in what tolerant and understanding manner the Thais deal with homosexuals and transgenders. Ming and Yong reminisce about their 38-year-long friendship, and remember the experiences they had as school boys and at boot camp trainings. They also slowly come to terms with the fact that their friendship at times could be characterized as one of the Cut Sleeve-variety. While they are in Bangkok a deep love between Ming and Yong redevelops.
Controversial enough for this forum?
I am not going to write a piece on Chinese history. However, I do need some nitty-gritty information in order to make my Chinese characters authentic and believable. I have questions regarding a variety of subjects. I know little about military life in China between 1980 and present. I don’t need to know where China maintains their satellite launch systems, but I would like to get an idea of what it is like for a man to be in the army between 1980 till present. What would his living conditions be like? Is a career in the army one that people look up to?
I picked the city of Taiyuan because it looked good on Google Earth and I like the terraced mountains east of the city. I can see photos of the city on many sites, but they portray the city the way it is now, a city of millions, but what was Taiyuan like in the 60s and 70s etc.? There are some villages in the mountains east of Taiyuan. I assume they contain mostly farming communities. I like more info on that.
How did people deal with homosexual people in the past decades? I have done extensive reading on this topic already, but would love to discuss this matter with real people.
I have Chinese friends who immigrated to Bangkok who claim that their parents don’t even know about the existence of the phenomenon or would beat the BJ out of them if they would find out. Do people in China understand the concept of transsexualism? How do Chinese families/societies deal with transgender people?
Was it possible for a person from a middleclass family in Taiyuan to move to and study at a university in Beijing? Was it possible for a young resident surgeon to travel abroad in the 80s to attend medical conferences in other Asian countries? These are just a few topics I would like to know more about.
I just started this book and I plan to pre-publish whatever I have on a special blog some time in the future so my current and new Chinese friends can read my work and comment on my writings, correct me where I get things wrong.
My wish is that my story generates interest with members of this forum and that I can discuss things with them, publicly on this forum or privately.
Unfortunately I have little experience traveling in China. As I am associated with an exiled man in the Himalayas who is regarded by the Chinese government as a splittist reactionary who tries to divide the Motherland, the Chinese government also discourages my presence in their wonderful country that I have admired for so many years from a distance.
I would prefer to discuss most things on this thread, rather than posting individual questions in different sections of this forum, unless the moderator finds this inappropriate or not practical.
I plan to spend two years on the production of this book, thus I hope to be part of this forum for some considerable time and develop great contacts. I have also posted this introduction on other forums.
Something personal about myself. I love Chinese, Japanese and Korean pop music, such as Koike Teppei, An Café, S.H.E., Superjunior, Angela Aki, Ken Hirai etc. Unfortunately I never get to see the pinyin translation of my favourite Chinese singers thus they remain nameless to me. I am fascinated by Chinese films, the last one I saw was an uncensored version of Lust, Caution in a Bangkok cinema. I also watch Chinese series on Bangkok cable TV though I don’t understand a word they say. Fresh Baked Asian on V-Channel is also a favourite. I am getting better at painting carps and coy Chinese style but go through too much paper when trying my hand at depicting bamboo.
Thank you in advance for your interest and help. I highly appreciate your time an effort to assist me in my research to produce a novel that the people of China can feel proud of. I would like to remain anonymous on this forum and I do not plan to reveal my real name or any titles of my previously published works. By the time my new novel is published, I will be happy to reveal the title of the book and the name of the author.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/05/2008 05:45PM by Tautau.