By Andy Sedlak and published by Aries Sun Press
It looks Chinese, but only a third of the book is set in China. The story revolves around a flower shop owner from Wisconsin and the Chinese god of agriculture working to reclaim agriculture for the common people. Eventually, these two characters decide to hold what they call the Nature Life Festival on a farm near Wild Cat Mountain.
The choice for the festival site is best explained by the story’s god:
“There is a small town in southwest Wisconsin named Viroqua. The town is a Mecca for organic farmers, and the area is rich in ancient spiritual traditions.”
The author explains the creation of the novel
I grew up on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin and had little contact with Asian culture or Asian people. I never used a pair of chopsticks until I was nineteen. I knew nothing about Asian culture, but I was always an avid reader. Somehow I came across Alan Watts The Way of Zen. I was immediately captured by the book. I began to read everything I could on Daoism and Buddhism. I met Asian people and eventually fell in love with and married a girl from western China.
In 2002, I found myself in China for the first time where I secured a job as an English teacher. I could barely speak the language, but I felt at home in the culture. I think that many Americans hold the belief that Chinese people are reserved and serious. This belief is perpetuated by popular literature, which tends to portray China as exotic and incomprehensible. When the idea for Dream of the Yellow Dragon came to me, I wanted to write something to reshape that opinion.
I remember the day well. It was early in 2010. I was living in Beijing. The country was resting for its annual Chinese New Year celebration. I went to Xian Nong temple with my wife. I saw all of these images of this god Shen Nong—the god of agriculture and medicine, and the idea came to me almost as if I were possessed. That night I wrote the first several pages of the novel. I wrote infrequently after that. Two years passed, and I only wrote twenty pages, but I could not get the idea for the story out of my head.
Finally early in 2012, I found myself under the tutelage of five tai ji instructors, and the words began to flow. For the next half year, I spent all of my free time writing and practicing tai ji. I practiced for five hours a day and wrote for four. Eventually, I produced the novel. I call it Dream of the Yellow Dragon because in Chinese that translates into Huang Long Meng which sounds much like the Chinese classic Hong Lou Meng—Dream of the Red Chamber. I hope you enjoy it.
Read an excerpt from Dream of the Yellow Dragon
About the author
Andy Sedlak grew up on a farm in southwest Wisconsin. He attended UW-Stevens Point where he earned a BS in English in 1997 and an MA in Communication in 2001. He first traveled to China in 2002 where he secured a job as an English teacher. He has a home in Wisconsin where he spends his summer months. He enjoys gardening and has an active interest in the Chinese martial art tai ji. Dream of the Yellow Dragon is his first novel, but he has published various poems as well as Babbling in Chinese a book on Mandarin Chinese pronunciation.