F. Lit Yu, author of the Legend of Snow Wolf, signs the book for the readers at the Book Expo held at the Javits Convention Center in New York on May 31. XIAO JIAQIAO / FOR CHINA DAILY
Intrigue, romance, wandering warriors and amazing martial artists - the traditional elements of wuxia (martial arts) adventure fiction - have found a new outlet in English.
The Legend of Snow Wolf: Legacy Edition - an English-language martial arts epic - was launched on May 31 at the Book Expo held at the Javits Convention Center in New York.
Written by Chinese-American writer F. Lit Yu, the work was first published in 2012 and 2013 in two volumes. As one reviewer described it, "The Legend of Snow Wolf is to martial arts what Harry Potter is to sorcery."
The story takes place on the plains of Mongolia in the time of legends, when wolves and men fought for dominance of the steppe. Sochai, a young warrior, finds himself mysteriously poisoned. He will die a slow death unless he can find an antidote. All clues point to the goddess Snow Wolf, the once revered goddess and savior of her people.
Author Yu lives in New York City and works in the financial industry. He is an avid follower of Chinese martial arts, strategy and military history, and he describes himself as a writer who ended up in a bank.
"I needed more income to support the family," he said. "So when I came out of school, there wasn't money to shoot a big film, but it doesn't cost money to write a big book. So eventually I started writing while working to support the family."
He had been a fan of martial arts fiction since childhood, especially the novels of Jin Yong.
"I love the world of martial arts," he said. "It is balanced in terms of men and women, rich and poor, officials and common people. If your kung fu is good, you climb higher. It is another world, one we don't have now."
As far as he knows, this is the first time a wuxia martial arts novel has been written in English, so he had no examples to follow.
"I felt the translations to English were bad, so I wrote in English," said Yu. Constantly editing and rewriting, he took a whole year to finish the story.
Yu speaks of his characters fondly. "When they are born, you can't stop them from being born," he said. "It's just like your own kid. When the characters come alive, you see them, you hear them, you feel them."
And the ideas come at random. "Writing is whenever the inspiration comes, it comes. Even if I am driving, I will stop to write."
"Not every book carries an energy, but this one does," said Yu. "This one carries the qian and dao. If you open up the I Ching (the ancient Chinese divination text), one of the very first symbols is qian, and that's about the cyclical path - it's about the rise and the fall… of everything."
Yu says his story follows the same path. "If you ask me the meaning behind it, it doesn't have to instruct a reader about anything, but it influences the readers' thinking when they're exposed to the idea."