Research is normally my favorite part of the writing journey. You can get immersed in different cultures, history and art.
When I was in school, I read 'Wild Swans' by Jung Chang and it remains a book I read time and time again. It's an incredible journey of three different Chinese women of different generations, spanning warlords and the rise of the Communist party. It inspired an interest in the art, history and culture of Asia.
Following some study and recommendations, I read 'Empress Orchid' by Anchee Min which is a great account of the life of Empress Dowager Cixi, the last Empress Dowager of China. It paints her in a much more sympathetic light than she is portrayed by the history books.
Together these two stories inspired The Burning Bandit, in particular, the 'villain' called The First Empress. I like my antagonists to be multi-faceted, and although The First Empress can be cruel and without mercy, she also loved The Emperor for elevating her and sought to honour his memory and do what he could not...
For the good of the kingdom!
Lauren Louise Hazel x