My great grandmother, Silver Dollar, I think. I never met her but, after my mother told me the fascinating stories of Silver Dollar’s life, I was certain that I found the source of matriarchal spring of my family. As my mother began to explain, and for eight months we spoke almost every evening, tirelessly tracing our matriarchal family line as far back as we could, to a remote northern Sichuan village in 1882. We followed the rise and fall of our family through tumultuous twentieth-century China, from the Imperial Manchu era to the Nationalist period, from Mao’s regime to Deng Xiao Ping’s market reform, from China’s economic boom in the eighties and nineties to the global financial crisis of 2008. As the story unfolded, two dominant threads emerged, inextricably woven together – the making of my matriarchal mother and the evolution of modern China.
Technically, FFSD was inspired by a famous fourteenth century Chinese literary epic depicting a legendary event in the Song Dynasty (960 AD – 1279 AD), The Outlaws of the Marsh. It’s very dramatic and compelling but still so easy to read and, perhaps because of this, was loved by all for centuries in China. Inspired by this writing style, I chose to use simple linguistic expressions and an easy-to-follow chronological structure in Forged from Silver Dollar.