VIEW THIS PAGE When he published his first short novel Language (語言) online in 1999, Jiu Ba-dao (九把刀) had no idea that one day he would become a best-selling writer and cultural pundit, adored by high school and college students alike. The free-spirited author, who crisscrosses genres such as fantasy, romance, thriller, black comedy, action and wuxia (武俠), or Chinese martial-art literature, is difficult to pin down.
His most talked-about achievements include writing 5,000 words a day and publishing 14 novels over a period of 14 months. At the age of 30, Jiu has more than 50 books under his belt, many of which have topped the best-seller chart, with others being adapted for television soap operas. The author’s ultimate wish is to become the next Jin Yong (金庸), one of the Chinese-speaking world’s top wuxia writers.
Jiu recently made a foray into film, directing a short movie that along with contributions from three other celebrities-turned-first-time directors form L-O-V-E (愛到底), which was released earlier this month. Starring pop idols Megan Lai (賴雅妍) and Van Fan (范逸臣), the story centers on a young man’s dying wish to look after the woman he loves, even when he’s gone.
Taipei Times: What does it feel like to be a first-time film director?
Jiu Ba-dao: I often felt clumsy. I am so used to being in complete control of my works as a writer. But in film, one’s sense of fulfillment is not pure as making a movie is a collective work. The danger of writing novels is that one can get way too cocky, believing that he can achieve things alone.
Being a director certainly exceeded all my expectations for my career. Filmmaking used to be a mystery to me. After the film, I know that it’s extremely difficult to make a movie, but it is no longer a mystery.
TT: How did you prepare for the project?
JB: Because I was totally clueless, I rented lots of DVDs and studied the behind-the-scene sections.
TT: Are you happy with the result?
JB: Yea, I quite like it. The pressure of making the film look good came from my fear of losing face. Lots of my book fans would go see the film, and I don’t want them to leave the theater, thinking “Jiu Ba-dao should go back to writing novels.”
TT: Speaking of your books, what propelled you to become a blog writer after Language?
JB: I was annoyed with sociology when I didn’t get admitted to National Tsing Hua University’s (清華大學, NTHU) graduate school, so I wrote stories during the whole time that I was supposed to be preparing to sit entrance exams for the next year. And I got addicted to it.
I put all my stories all online because I didn’t have a personal computer back then. That’s why I became a blog writer.
(After graduating from the National Chiao Tung University’s (國立交通大學) department of management science, Jiu didn’t settle down with a job at Hsinchu Science Park like many of his classmates did. He wrote Language, or what he called a fantasy novel laden with sociological awareness, for his graduate school application to NTCU’s sociology department. He didn’t get admitted, but instead found fame as a best-selling writer five years later after half a decade of sluggish sales.)
TT: Why did you choose Giddens as your blog name?
JB: It was because Marx and Habermas were already used (laughing). I found The Third Way [by Anthony Giddens] boring, but I wanted a cool name ... Lots of the reasons behind what I do aren’t really that cool.