Wed, Mar 18, 2009 - Page 14 News List

Master of his destiny

Jiu Ba-dao may look and sound slightly conceited, but the youthful best-selling writer and first-time director knows the value of hard work


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.

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