Written interview for Chicken Bro’s 2019 birthday, hosted by the Feitian Yexiang Supertopic Intelligence Bureau on Weibo. Original post can be found here.
Mild spoiler warning for Dinghai.
- When is the next autographed book sale!!! (@ Chicken fans collective)
A: Book signing is really tiresome~~ My quota is depleted.
- Everyone wants to know Xiao Fei-ge’s reading list. I want to know Xiao Fei-ge’s music playlist! (@ cyan Luo Xuan must pass Prof Shen’s postgrads entrance exam)
A: Music playlist huh, most of the time there’s no particular song on loop. Generally I’d listen to a genre that was similar to the text that I was writing at the time. Take Turing for example, it was mostly symphonies or classical music. While writing Tianbao, Dinghai, I preferred listening to audio drama soundtracks and theme songs, or a bit of guzheng music. For Seizing Dreams, in order to write the campus life experience as immersive as possible, I played quite a number of Douyin’s popular songs. Because of this, Netease Music usually takes me for someone with an extreme “split personality”, recommending all sorts of songs and genres.
- I want to ask Xiao Fei-ge, what kind of books do you enjoy reading? Is there a link between the genre you enjoy reading and the genre you enjoy writing? (@ Marooner Liao Chenshan of Real Feitian’s family)
A: More like dabbling a bit in each genre? I’m not picky, sometimes I’d read books on social work, reference books on writings, poetry collections, novels and so on. I think there isn’t much of a link between the genre I like to read and the genre I like to write, because if you only read about the topics you intend to write, you become susceptible to tunnel vision. That is why you shouldn’t think too much when reading a book; simply read it for your own fun and enjoyment.
- I want to ask Xiao Fei-ge if you’d read works by your fellow authors in private? But you seem to prefer more serious, proper books! There are so many recommended titles, I can’t even read them all. (@ Four Circle must be happy today too)
A: What are you saying hahaha, aren’t the books by my fellow authors proper books as well? (Fellow authors, come quickly, there’s a police report to be made!) Hmm…… Every type of reading material has its own richness and its own lacking. Of course, I’ll also read many novels on Jinjiang; most recently I’ve read Swallow the Seas and Drowning Sauces in Raging Fire (?). Here’s a secret I’m letting you guys in — many Jinjiang authors actually follow other authors’ works, just that we mostly use trumpet accounts to avoid drawing attention.
- I want to ask Xiao Fei-ge, do you still remember the series called Stories From the Obscured Place? Will you post another book with a similarly serious tone? I really love the magnificent vibe, the story framework and the extremely romantic depiction of characters’ emotions under Boss Chicken’s pen tip! (@ First of the month cannot avoid the Fifteenth)
A: Probably the book after the next? Right now I’ve got parts written up, but because it calls back to many past events, as well as the era-appropriate references, there’s certain information that needs to be verified. Relatively speaking, it’s pretty challenging; and since I’m not working on one book at a time but also others in the interim, it’s hard to be sure of completion date.
- I really enjoy Beicheng Tianjie and The Spring of Prince Syndrome, these kinds of realistic-themed stories. Will you consider writing more of those? (@ Xiao Ji-)
A: I will; been working on one recently.
- I want to ask Xiao Fei-ge, would you challenge yourself with settings you’ve never written before? For example, certain settings that recently gained popularity like quick transmigration, crime investigation, infinite flow etc.? (@ Orange is not pear)
A: I will, take Dinghai for example, by all and every definition it belongs to the rebirth genre. It’s just that I might not write these settings while they remain popular.
- I want to ask Xiao Fei-ge, do you have a writing plan for the second half of the year!!! (@ A big bite of little sweetie)
A: Later this year I have a book to be released, preparations are in order!
- Which genres does Xiao Fei-ge enjoy? Which one do you enjoy the most? (@ I have a cutie yeahhh)
A: Hehehe, I like sci-fi and fantasy, though I haven’t written one in very long, in the future I might post these genres again. Which one I enjoy the most…… Honestly I enjoy many of them. Recently I rather like writing something similar to quick transmigration.
- As someone who has shipped many wrong CPs in your novels, or rather, the characters I prefer couldn’t be endgame with the protagonist (like Second Uncle, Lang Junxia, Fang Qingyu, Zhao Chao, Sun Bin, Cao Zhen, Jiang Wei……), I’d like to ask Xiao Fei-ge, when you portray these characters who share ambiguous affection with the protagonists, but not enough to be called ‘love’, or they’re simply not meant to be together, what is your view on this sort of feelings? Among these second male leads, who is your favourite? To clarify, of course I really love the way Xiao Fei-ge depicts love! But reading these romance plots with Bad Ends makes me really miserable. (@ Matsushima Unit No.1)
A: Because “love unknowingly takes root, it runs deeper and deeper”, that’s what affection is. We’re completely defenceless against love and hatred. And even in life, there are many who are destined to meet, yet not fated to be together. These are the norms, but being the unfavoured ones make these characters more sympathetic, more charming in the eyes of readers, not unlike that saying about Korean dramas: first male lead is for plot progression, second male lead is to be loved. Lately, I’m especially moved by Zhou Sheng, perhaps it’s because I’ve been working on Seizing Dreams extras these days.
- Xiao Fei-ge’s works generally consist of ups and downs leading to an ultimate Happy End, is it because you take into consideration the feelings of your readers, or is it your personal belief in the light at the end of the tunnel? Do you plan to write more Bad Endings in the future? (@ At the back there be a red bean cooking chicken egg)
A: Reason being, in my experience growing up, the hardships we face in life can mostly be overcome in the end. Extrapolating from this world view, such experiences can be considered the “normal” state of life, right? Of course there’s also my rather extreme preference, which believes in working hard against the obstacles, for one day, things will start to look up. Perhaps this is why some folks say that idealistic people typically have some child-like qualities to themselves. Yes to writing more Bad Ends, but not by a lot; the BE I hope for is a BE that can give you an outlet, an enlightenment, and not a BE purposefully designed for the sake of inflicting as much emotional damage as possible. Afterall, every person will one day be dead, so if you see from the endpoint, there isn’t much of a difference (between HE and BE?).
- I’m curious how Xiao Fei-ge would write in first person, and I don’t mean primary school writing assignments…… Though I do want to know about the first character in the very very very first story you wrote, whether the story was published or not. (@ Niffer2018)
A: This question…… I might have forgotten it myself. Seemed to be a Western knight or mage. It should be an order of knights? Wow, it’s been such a long time, even the drafts have gone missing. I still remember, back then in primary school, I would do some writing in a notebook after finishing my homework. It was so slow writing by hand, everyday I could only write a few hundred words. In retrospect, those days were truly laborious.
- I just saw this! I’d like to ask, was the crossover between Dinghai and Divine Artifacts planned early on, or did you come up with it as you write? How does Xiao Fei-ge control your endlessly breeding plot bunnies from interfering with your current work? Whenever I read Xiao Fei-ge’s books, there’s always this sense of Fated (for each other), does Xiao Fei-ge believe in fate? Wish you a happy birthday *blows kisses* (@ Yao Yao Licks-)
A: Regarding plot bunnies, editing is key, only put in what is good and discard what isn’t. I personally don’t really believe in fate, though I believe that life is made up of many small choices we make. Some of the choices seem trivial and insignificant at first, but as time accumulates, you’ll discover that your life has been set in stone, right from the moments those choices were made. So, go live your life without regret; if there’s anything you want to do, just do it. In the great cycle of time, the trifling little details too will pass, becoming an interlude not worthy of mentioning. Thank you, dear!
- I want to ask, how did Xiao Fei-ge come up with such a method to salvage the situation in Dinghai? I’m also curious about the settings of Xiang Shu and Chen Xing: initially you said they had an “intense conflict”, why did you decide on such settings? (@ Sen Sen Sen Shen Sen Shen)
A: I don’t know either. The initial plot-driving trope might have been heavily influenced by rebirth settings? We all know that in rebirth-type novels, the main lead is reborn right at the beginning of the story. So at the time, I thought, could I introduce rebirth when we’re well into the story arc, when we’re at the climatic development, as a way for the main leads to salvage everything? After considering it some more, I thought not many readers would be patient enough to wait for this overturning moment that should have happened at the beginning. Afterall, lots of foreshadowing is needed to get (readers) through the dark times. And that’s why, Dinghai is a book that asks for a lot of patience, from both the author and the readers.
- Would like to ask Boss Chicken, how do you perceive Xiang Shu and Chen Xing’s love? Love in Dinghai is truly delicate yet calm and steady: from the initial subtle angst to the later joy in the lost being found, from skiing to a harmonised duet, from moonshell bracelets to the Tide Ring, even a shield also has many stories behind it. Shuxing’s wonderful love reduced me to a sobbing mess. (@ Everything is as you wish)
A: Thank you! These two are a match made in Heaven. In the very beginning, I wanted to write someone similar to Director Chen, who holds on to his ideals, but just as my pen moved, a character resembling Chen Xing jumped out from my thoughts, and almost like a real, living youth, he yelled “Write me! Write me!” to my face. So I turned my attention to Chen Xing, and asked him, What kind of lover do you want? He hesitated. Then somehow, another person who is a little languid wandered in my mind, that was Xiang Shu.
That is to say, their initial meeting place was inside my chaotic consciousness, looking for ‘that’ (Xiao Fei-ge also doesn’t know what ‘that’ was referring to). From then on, be it skiing or moonshell bracelets, those were parts of the process of them steadily getting closer to each other. Thank you for your love, I too love them both very much.
- Xiao Fei-ge, when Tianhe told others about Guan Yue, about how his hard work was for the purpose of wealth redistribution, to make our society a better place — is this an idealistic fairy tale? Do such noble and magnanimous people really exist? If yes, what motivates Guan Yue to act this way? Which part of his upbringing has imparted such a sense of sympathy for others? (@ San San working hard to pass postgrads entrance exam or else must go on blind dates)
A: It’s real, even in real life, many businessmen like this exist. There used to be a concept of “Confucian merchants”; despite the many negative experiences inflicted on Guan Yue by his family, they also encouraged him to read a vast amount of books, covering from traditional culture, literature, to philosophy, which all moulded his worldview, his idealism. Uncle Guan is a person with class and sophistication!
- Xiao Fei, look at me! Does Lang Dog not deserve love? I’m pointing to Lang Dog and Lin Zhan, have you or have you not forgotten Lin Zhan’s name! (words with zero logics) (@ Peerless hero great charcoal ball)
A: Ahahaha you know me so well. Although it’s because no one picked them for extra raffles! Perhaps someone will ask for this pairing next time ‘round?
- In Chinese Ship’s Mid-Autumn extra, in the end who has taken whose mooncakes??? This question has bothered me for a very long time!!! (@ Uncontrollable glutton)
A: I…… forgot. This year’s Mid-Autumn I’ll take a look again?
- I want to ask Xiao Fei-ge, how do you decide which characters to appear in the annual Mid-Autumn extras? I really like these sorts of extras with big reunions! Every single character has their own attractiveness~ And another question, will our Xiao Ji have his own story? Lastly I’m once again confessing my love to Xiao Fei-ge~ Love you muah muah muah! (@ Dcindeiemxomm)
A: Um, it’s like this, basically the cast from the serialised book of the year will make appearances, as an introduction to you readers. Other appearances are based on lot drawing, where I write down a bunch of names, and before Mid-Autumn, I’d pick who to write. Xiao Ji won’t have his own standalone story, he mostly appears as a cameo.
- I want to ask Xiao Fei-ge, in Dinghai, is Xiao Ji considered the aforementioned “easter egg”?~ Can you spoil a little about the strange signal Jueming intercepted? (@ Has Qing Mo written five year diary today)
A: Correct. Xiao Ji was the egg that made an appearance before. The third child of Lu Bu’s family is a girl, therefore the fourth one is Xiao Ji. The reason for the third child’s debut is rather special, and the last one is Xiao Ji.
- I want to ask if Xiao Fei-ge will continue the Exorcists series in Song dynasty? Is it related to the story about the (tsundere) Phoenix, Sigui and Acala’s descendant of the Xiang Family Xiang Xuan? To complete the story about thousands of years of reincarnations, giving it an even more holistic world view. (@ Wei Ye WII)
A: I will, I myself love Exorcists series a lot, it allows much creative exploration!
- If all three generations of Exorcists were to fight, who would win? Whose martial power is the top? I’m sorry I’m really curious. (@ Sen Sen Sen Shen Sen Shen)
A: If all three generations were to fight…… The winning team is probably the one whose shou is the least amenable to reason? Although I don’t think such a situation will happen.
- I want to ask Xiao Fei-ge, is the Song dynasty book the final one in the Exorcists series? Do you still have plans for a book set in Ming dynasty? Would you consider writing crime investigation theme? I really love the way historical characters are portrayed under Xiao Fei-ge’s pen tip, such as Li Guinian in Tianbao, or Xie An in Dinghai, who exhibit very fascinating aspects of their own. Will there be another opportunity that we could ‘listen’ to Xiao Fei-ge’s narrating history? In similar format to The Coo-nicles of Three Kingdoms, or the previously serialised on BLue magazine Glorious Records. (@_Nan Xiao Mo_)
A: Likely not, at the moment I have yet to finalise the number of books in the series, it’s either five or six books in total. Regardless, we have only seen about half of this series; there are plenty more exciting and wonderfully adventurous stories await.
- Besides working and writing, how does Xiao Fei-ge make time for exercise and accomplishing all sorts of other miscellaneous stuff? How many hours do you sleep a night? Can you share some tips for curing procrastination? (Enquirer myself is a late stage procrastinator begging you to answer this post!) (@ Meester Yi’s sunflower)
A: Generally I don’t procrastinate; I feel that by being a little more attentive, you should be able to get many things done in a short period of time! Often, the factor delaying our life isn’t actually time but efficiency. Health is also very crucial, don’t starve yourself just to lose some weight, your body must be well taken care of. And then, spend less time on Weibo. Slowly, better habits will form, as you become attentive and focus on the things you need to accomplish, and you’ll be fine. I absolutely can relate to you guys, because studying can sometimes bore you out of your mind, you’d rather do any other thing to self-entertain. But at the end of the day, we all must do the stuff that we don’t want to do. That aside, life is still very wonderful, so, go and work hard!
- Has Xiao Fei-ge been resting well lately? Are you happy? Any happy stories to share with us? (@ Don’t wanna work seven days out of a week)
A: I have! After wrapping up edits for Dinghai’s ending, I’m practically on vacation. Of course, despite being on vacation, there’re still a million things to be done, especially whenever the publishers chase me for new extras, I just want to blast my own doghead…… Why must I agree to writing so many new extras!!! But when I actually start writing, I feel as if being transported back into the story’s universe, it’s a very wonderful experience! Happy stories…… I’m currently playing a game, and also went on a trip, I enjoyed myself a lot. I know you guys will definitely ask which game I’m playing…… Think I’d better not say, it’s no good for you guys to indulge too much in games.
- I want to ask Xiao Fei-ge, any updates on Mingwang audio drama? (suddenly whispers) If you can also spoil a bit about Tianbao donghua progress…… (@ Xiao Kun KNRE)
A: Erm…… I’m also not sure at the moment, but I will ask later.
- Xiao Fei-ge’s works have gathered many adaptations, such as audio dramas. Do you listen to those in your free time? If yes, do you ever find the adapted scenes consistent with the original versions in your head? (@ Wine drinker dies in Nanshan)
A: I do! Firstly, if you see from the derivative nature of audio dramas, they’re all very well done. In addition, listening to audio dramas is very relaxing, I just sit back and let my mind be pulled away by the voices of VA-laoshis into this world crafted from the original book. Those that have been released so far like Tianbao, 2013, Xiang Jian Huan, Seizing Dreams…… I love them all very much!
- When will you update your Wechat official account! I want to see more of the Silent Spiral series! (@ Ans An Ning_)
A: Are you really not my manager chasing for new content? Alright alright, I’ll write it soon.
- Would like to ask Xiao Fei-ge, can you tell us the behind-the-scenes process of changing book titles during publication? Or rather, how do you choose a new name? (@ Marooner Liao Chenshan of Real Feitian’s family)
A: Sometimes the alternative titles are suggested by editors, sometimes it’s my own, though I always get mocked mercilessly. Other times it’s my great readers who help to brainstorm, do you guys remember the Weibo post calling for title suggestions? I actually prefer those titles sent in by readers most, they’re the best. Such a pity that I can’t dump the whole book and ask you guys for suggestions while the book is still serialising……
- As Master’s career fan (eh), ① I would like to ask about Master’s future plan? ② Next year, should we expect a new screenplay form you? ③ Would you screen write for your books’ screen/anime adaptation or write theme song lyrics? ④ Has Master considered writing quick transmigration or similar settings to unleash your omnipresent brain holes? What is the theme and style for next year’s release? ⑤ Xiao Fei-ge’s writings often feature scrumptious dishes, what is a dish that Xiao Fei-ge can cook very well? Any delicacies you’ve tried and would recommend? ⑥ Characters in Xiao Fei-ge’s books possess many mysterious powers, which superpower comes across as a highlight to you?
No matter what happens, let’s continue to meet for the next 10 years, and then let’s write until you’re 100 years old! I wish to read your books forever! Pinky promise? (@ Red bean bun_Xiao Wang loves Ye Xiu rabbit)
A: Career fan…… I’d rather you don’t...? Being my readers is good enough. Though Red bean bun probably doesn’t count as a career fan? “Reader with concern about my works” is perhaps a more accurate description? Um, in the future I should still be writing, trying my best to keep up with the current pace of two books a year. Next year there won’t be a screenplay, I’m shifting focus to my family. I won’t write for my own book’s adaptation; there are many superbly talented script writers out there, such as those working on Tianbao audio drama. I’m pleased to leave it in their good hands. Have considered writing quick transmigration, although the quick transmigration setting I write might differ a lot from the quick transmigration you know of? Take Dinghai for example, there aren’t many who will consider it a proper rebirth story, right? One of the books next year should contain modern, realistic themes, and the one after that would be a historical setting. Delicacies…… Recently there’s a new auntie in my home who cooks really delicious food, so I don’t cook very often. On superpower…… I also want a Golden Crow Ring! Um, your love has been received, Xiao Fei-ge loves you too, muah muah muah!
- I want to ask President Chicken, when you were younger (high school or university), have you ever felt conflict within yourself, and how did you overcome it? (@ Little fairy chicken from Luck-tian Yexiang family)
A: To answer this question sincerely, I think a great many readers of mine are also facing the same problem, right? I must say, adolescent growth is not only influenced by psychological factors, but also physiological ones. The bodily stimulation arising from hormonal changes during the course of pubertal growth, in addition to the confusing formative experiences that mould our worldview, is indeed very painful. Just like in Seizing Dreams or Prince Syndrome, we do not stop discussing such matters. My suggestion is, firstly, to never give up on yourself, never give up on your expectations of the future, because there’s still a very long life ahead of you. All that is troubling you now, in comparison to the longevity of time, is rather insignificant. Keep an open mind, and don’t make trivial matters from school, family or relationships the centre of your life, for outside of such trivialities, a broader world awaits.
Speaking of troubled times, in my teenage years, I tried resolving them by reading poetry and literary collections with great comforting power from the likes of Gibran, Szymborska, (Percy) Shelley, Li Bai, Bai Juyi, and Li Shangyin. Great poets have their ways to soothe your heart, drawing your focus away from the mundane life to the big vast world. I think, to some extent, they serve as a form of escapism, to allow you time to calm down. In the same vein as reading sci-fi and fantasy novels, we often find ourselves looking up at the endless stars in the night sky and realise, mankind is really small and insignificant compared to this great big universe. Naturally, whatever is troubling you will slowly fade away.
Hang in there! Mother Hen loves you!
Dearly beloved Chicken Gege community, we gather here today to celebrate the Day of the Chicken Lord...... *dragged off stage by security*
To Xiao Fei-ge, happy (yet another) 18th birthday!