One of Beijing’s newly published authors is also a student at Western Academy of Beijing (WAB). Emily Jin has not only published her first novel, but she’s signed a three-year contract with People’s Oriental Publishing and Media, and as a grade 12 student at WAB, she’s the youngest author ever to sign with the Chinese publishing house. Jin’s novel, a 160,000 character novel written in Chinese, is titled The Blue Lotus Agency of Secrets, and was illustrated by Jin’s friend and fellow WAB student Jenny Zheng. On Monday, December 10, WAB held a launch party for the novel, during which WAB students, teachers, and staff gathered to celebrate Jin and Zheng’s achievement.
The Blue Lotus Agency of Secrets is about a 14-year-old boy named Wu Chun, a loner who is picked on by everyone. His mother dies soon after his father betrays him, and faces the added pressure of bad grades and humiliation at the hands of his stepmother and stepbrother. On the eve of Spring Festival, just as Wu Chun is ready to accept his wretched lot in life, he meets a group of people who claim to be part of the Blue Lotus Agency of Secrets. After the fated meeting, a string of mystifying, supernatural events and a crime occur, and after solving the mystery and regaining his lost confidence, Wu Chun too becomes a member of the mysterious agency.
Jin began shaping her novel under the tutelage of WAB teacher Jiaping Zhao, though she has been writing short stories since she was 7 years old. After years of writing and impressing her schoolmates with fantastical and additive novels, Jin says she “decided that fantasy involving Chinese elements is the genre I prefer best, so I began to structure my own fictional world that included various characters, settings and rules.”
But what ultimately inspired The Blue Lotus Agency of Secrets was a thread on a Chinese online forum that extended psychological support to teen students. When she saw a CCTV news report about a student who failed an exam then committed suicide, Jin realized that many local Chinese schools, unlike WAB, do not offer psychological support to their students. That, she says inspired her to write the book, “which is to help Chinese teenagers overcome psychological difficulties by discovering the virtues in their own hearts, gain confidence in themselves, and become independent and fair individuals.”
Jin’s editor, Ms. Wang, was also on hand at the launch, praised Jin’s novel and remarked that it is not only “highly imaginative, but also combines a great deal of realistic elements. This book literally opens up a new approach to the genre of fantasy. We believe that it also works well to provide teenagers suffering from isolation and misery with support and encouragement.”
There are now 8,000 copies of Jin’s novel in bookstores now, and the novel is also available on Amazon.cn. Jin is already working on the sequel.
Photos courtesy of WAB