Afterword to The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo: Influences, Plausibility and Alien Sex Pollen Apologies

Here is an afterword for The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo! Thank you for buying the ebook, reading, reviewing, linking, retweeting and sending feedback if you’ve done any of that, and thanks for your patience with the daily spam if you haven’t. *g*

If you’ve read the story and have a couple of minutes to spare, I’d super appreciate it if you’d add a review to its page on Smashwords, Amazon or GoodReads. I’d appreciate it whether the review was good or bad — candid reviews are the best, right? I generally find reviews pretty useful when trying out an unknown author and you never know, somebody might be looking for cheap Kindle books or something like that and decide to take a punt on Jade.

Anyway, I wanted to do an afterword after the whole thing was posted, so here it is! It will contain spoilers and so it is going under the tag. Oh, and I’m gonna do a separate post about my experience self-publishing an ebook, so look for that tomorrow.

I remarked that I wanted to do an apologetic afterword and tevere said, basically, woffor? One doesn’t expect writers of alien sex pollen fanfic stories to apologise for relying on a hoary cliche, the main appeal of which lies in its dodgy consent issues.

This is true. But for one thing, if you are a writer of alien sex pollen fanfic stories, it is wise not to begin a policy of apologising for things because the list of things other people think you should apologise for is probably going to be really long (alleged copyright infringement at the top, “that’s not how plant OR human biology works!” at the bottom). And for another thing, I don’t really feel apologetic about relying on id-attractive tropes, but one ought to be deliberate about the tropes one uses.

Which is all a roundabout way of saying: omg, self, you wrote a romance that ends in marriage and a baby? Bah! Talk about feeding into the societally-imposed idea that that’s all women want and need for a happy ending! But the reason why is because the plot of Jade Yeo is based on the story of Rebecca West’s romance with H. G. Wells.

H. G. Wells was a much respected established Victorian writer, and wrote stories about society and love as well as stories about Martians. Rebecca West was a brilliant young firebrand who ripped Wells’s novel to shreds in a review. Wells invited her to lunch or something; they were drawn to each other irresistibly when they met. West wanted Wells to help her with shucking off her virginity. Wells was initially doubtful, but they had a long-standing affair, and Rebecca had a kid as a result of it.

Wells was married the whole time! He was allowed liaisons because his wife Jane was really the only one for him or whatever. And they weren’t gonna be bound by societal restrictions, bah to those. (It does not appear that Jane was allowed similar liberties.)

When I read about this in Katie Roiphe’s book about the Bloomsbury Group’s love lives, Uncommon Arrangements, I thought: that would make a pretty good romance novel, but hot up the arsey married man and institute Love Interest #2, who would eventually win the day.

The other main influence was Virginia Woolf’s diaries and letters, which I was reading as I wrote The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo. I was reading them for fun, of course, but it kind of functioned as research into the setting as well (so I knew rich people had motorcars, for instance). The diaries and letters also provided the idea for Mrs. Crowther’s home, as Woolf went to a similar nursing home for a rest cure a couple of times when she’d had a breakdown.

Anyway, so that’s why Jade gets pregnant. She gets married because I want her and Ravi to get to hang out with their families again and imagine how awkward it would be if they weren’t married when they turned up. I’m not sure what happens to Jade and Ravi next. I imagine they eventually end up settling in Malaya and having a fairly quiet life of it — until World War II.

There were a few unintended things that happened while I was writing the novella — I had no idea Jade and Ravi were going to be non-white until I started writing (even though I’d outlined the whole thing already!), and Hardie and Diana’s polyamorous arrangement is a bit fairer than H. G. Wells and his wife Jane’s was, since they’ve both got something on the side. Diana is probably my third favourite character in the novella, mostly because she and Jade belong to completely different genres.

A final note on historical plausibility. I found out while reading Eileen Chang’s fictionalised semi-autobiography The Fall of the Pagoda that her mom and aunt had gone to Europe to study art. OK, Asian ladies did that around that time — tick. Ravi was easier, since boys from the colonies had been sent to Britain for their schooling since the 1800s. Jade and Ravi are obviously very privileged and pretty unusual, especially Jade: even the people who would’ve been able to afford to send their kids to Europe to study wouldn’t usually have thought it worth educating their girls. Their existence isn’t wildly implausible, though, which was enough for me.

Next in my imaginary “fluff for postcolonial booknerds” series, a Regency fantasy romance with a black protagonist and a mixed race love interest! (Or the other way around. I haven’t decided yet.) \o/ Er, I haven’t written that yet, though. As they say in anime, please look forward to it!

5 thoughts on “Afterword to The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo: Influences, Plausibility and Alien Sex Pollen Apologies

  1. communi_kate

    I did enjoy the book, although it’s not my favourite period. Jade is an enjoyably independent heroine, although it took me a while to realise JY was set in the twenties and not just terrifically old-fashioned. Reminded me a bit of ‘The L shaped Room’. I’m going now to check out some of the more fantastic stories mentioned on podcastle etc; the writing is good and I think the genre might me more my thing.

    Reply
    1. Zen

      Thanks for commenting! I’m glad you enjoyed the story even if it’s not your favourite period or genre. I hope you do/did enjoy the other stories — thanks again for dropping by.

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Review: THE PERILOUS LIFE OF JADE YEO – Zen Cho | downforthebarbecue

    1. Zen Post author

      Aw, I’m so glad you liked Jade! I’m actually revising the Regency fantasy novel right now, and hope to start querying it some time this year. Fingers crossed!

      Reply

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