ArtView June 2014 - Page 37

Duncan Jepson is an author, filmmaker and lawyer who lives in Hong Kong. He writes here about the inspiration for his first crime novel, Emperors Once More. For Emperors Once More, I wanted to explore the anger caused by the feeling of inferiority. Not just personal experiences but where it haunts society and history – but I also wanted to this to be the motivation for a crime story which I hoped might have a broader appeal. I liked the idea of a narrative about a criminal who was engaging in heinous acts of violence and trying to induce mayhem for larger intentions. The reaction to colonialism and Western influence in Asia by generations of Chinese who felt inferior to imperialism and then economic power, now long gone in many respects, offered a psychology to explore. And hopefully I have been able to create a character who had both personal and historical motivations for their actions. The “Hundred Years of Humiliation” refers to the period from the First Opium War until the Chinese Revolution during which China and the Chinese people experienced defeat at the hands of a variety of imperial powers, though several times by the Japanese. The Boxer Rebellion stands out as the exception during this period, when rural folk sought retribution on Chinese Christian converts because they felt that the Christian god had brought the year or so of drought that had killed their means of surviving. The Boxers, believing themselves impervious to bullets, escalated their anger from Chinese to foreigners and were ultimately utilized by the Empress Dowager in the war in 1900 against the imperial powers that had been pressuring Beijing for concessions. Suddenly though it started to rain and the Boxers, ignoring the war, simply disappeared back to their fields leaving a mixed legacy of courage and madness. They were brave to face British, French, German, US, Russian and Japanese soldiers when the