Authors tell you what inspired their work

Albert A. Dalia, author of "Dream of the Dragon Pool"

I suppose my mother's reading to me as a child could be logged as my first introduction to fiction. In-between my childhood delight with fiction and my fiction writing career, two masters and a Ph.D. in history happened. It was after my Ph.D. in 1985 that I returned to fiction. I guess I had exhausted my curiosity about the "truth." Or, more accurately, I had exhausted my curiosity about formal historical study as a path to understanding "reality."

Perhaps, it was the study of medieval Chinese history and religion that occupied all that academic work that led to the renewal of my interest in fiction. What were all those "strange tales" that I came across in Chinese Buddhist history based on? In order to learn Chinese and then medieval "classical Chinese," I went to Taiwan to study. In my 14 years of wandering around Taiwan, I discovered many connections with a number of wonderful teachers. As a graduate student in medieval Chinese Buddhist history, I would cycle into the countryside around Taipei visiting monasteries. Part of my interest was to better understand the role of religion in Chinese society. With that understanding I might have a clearer insight to the medieval Buddhist texts and historical records I was studying.

Many of these visits led to amazing discoveries. There was a whole generation of senior Chinese Buddhist monks who had escaped the religious persecution across the Taiwan Strait to settle in the Taiwanese countryside. I learned and continue to learn much from their experience and wisdom. Once I finished my language and graduate studies, how could I possibly be satisfied with following the narrow strictures of historical research and inquiry -- there was this great imaginative world out there!

So I returned to Taiwan, after receiving my doctorate and publishing some short stories in the US, and began to teach creative writing at a private university for a number of very happy years. All of this led, finally, to the publication in mid-April, 2007 of my first medieval Chinese historical fantasy, Dream of the Dragon Pool, which is published by a NYC literary press, Pleasure Boat Studio.

Dennis Littrell, one of the four top reviewers who gave me five-star reviews, wrote:

"Wine and dreams are at the heart of this remarkable novel. Frankly I have never read anything like it. Dalia who is a Chinese scholar has recreated a style and a world view long gone from this realm, a style that interprets the world as dream and mystery, a style that celebrates Dao as an occult religion...

...Dalia's prose, like those of a fairy tale master, immerses the reader in the mists of the long ago, into a world in which ghosts and dragons, shamanesses and wondrous magicians, goddesses and monsters, exist in reality as they do in myth. He recalls a vision of this world in which there is no line drawn between the mysterious and the mundane, between the world of spirit and that of mortal flesh. The gods and the goddesses are real. Monkeys can catch ghosts and creatures such as the Albino Swordsman can enter your dreams and kill you while you lie sleeping. The dragon can assume horrific forms, terrible and awesome to the eyes. And mortals can mingle with immortals."

Please drop into my website at the Dragon Gate Inn, for the complete review and the other reviews, a first two chapters sample, a blog on the historical background of this type of literature in China, and more information and pictures about me and my travels than you would ever want to know about!

Rate this article:

Click here to read more articles from Backstory.

Join the conversation

Comments from our users:

Saturday February 9th 2008, 12:37 PM
Comment by: Michael T.
You can exhaust your life in the philosophies and studies of this culture and end up empty like Albert, empty yet still searching and have to turn to the world fiction to try to find truth. "Truth" is a person and He is not a fiction. He is hidden to the unsuspecting and He is revealed to those who pursue Him. What a great waste of a life to end up at the dragon's pool.
Saturday February 9th 2008, 7:49 PM
Comment by: Marisha C.
Fiction deals with the unprovable, the more-than-real realms of our imagination and feeling and belief. Albert Dalia isn't empty, he's drinking from and sharing with the whole world from The Dragon Pool.

Do you have a comment?

Share it with the Visual Thesaurus community.

Your comments:

Sign in to post a comment!

We're sorry, you must be a subscriber to comment.

Click here to subscribe today.

Already a subscriber? Click here to login.

Science fiction, like fantasy, has it's own lexicon. Read about it here.
Speculative Fiction
Another look at the genre of science fiction.