By Mingmei Yip
SONG OF THE SILK ROAD (Kensington Books, 2011) is a romantic adventure on China’s fabled route and the Go-In-But-Never-Come-Out Taklamakan Desert with the lure of a three million dollar reward.
Though I did not consciously plan it this way, I find I like to write about brave women who live unconventional lives, not always by their own choice. I owe this novel to a brave and unconventional writer – and a dream.
A Taiwanese woman who called herself Echo was one of my favorite authors. In the 70s, her descriptions of her adventures with her husband in the Sahara Desert captivated many readers, including myself.
Inspired by her, I always wanted to write about a young woman’s adventures in the desert. I had thought of drawing on Echo’s life for my desert novel, but then found my imagination led me in a different direction. A lifelong fascination with the romantic history of the Silk Road was brought to life when I traveled there a few years ago with my husband, going through ruined cities and venturing up sheer cliffs into now abandoned caves that once housed thriving spiritual communities and thousand year old treasures of Buddhist sculptures and frescoes depicting deities, goddess, and western paradises.
The Silk Road is the 2,000 year old route in ancient China connecting the East to the West, where the Chinese ventured as far as Rome. Merchants, adventurers, soldiers and missionaries traveled to trade, explore, fight and spread God's words. However, most didn't make it out alive – killed by bandits, eaten alive by animals, buried by sands, struck by natural disasters. The rumor was that travelers didn't need to read signposts (if there were any), they just followed the skeletons.
Then I had a dream.
In my dream a young woman receives a letter from an aunt whom she had never known existed. The niece was told to undertake a long journey in China, retracing the same routes the aunt had taken, meeting the same people, and doing things the aunt had done. The niece would receive a big sum of money, if she successfully carried out all the tasks – and if she survived.
I remember the dream, but not when it came to me. The young woman was not me, but she had a strong personality and I knew she wanted me to give her a voice. The result is this adventure and love story, SONG OF THE SILK ROAD.
COMMENT: Do leave a comment and let us know if you've read any of Mingmei's novels, and what would you do if you got a mysterious letter and a challenge for $3 million dollars.
SONG OF THE SILK ROAD is her latest romance novel from Kensington. Mingmei is a writer, painter, calligrapher, musician (she plays the Qin) and a journalist. She has performed and lectured on music, Buddhism and Chinese culture throughout the