NANP: Names In Jan Xu

For today’s Names: A New Perspective, I have Singaporean SFF author Joyce Chng stopping by to talk about the names in her Jan Xu series. Joyce also writes short fiction under the name J. Damask and is one of the very few Asian authors that I know of and interact with. Her work came to my attention rather recently and I’ve been meaning to give it a go for a while. Hopefully, the fast-incoming New Year means that I’ll get that chance soon. I read very little in the way of SFF that is not West-centric, but I’ve read some stuff here and there and have been exposed to some really great stuff, and its clearly a vibrant up-and-coming market as well. Besides, I’m always on the look-out for something new and the Jan Xu series seems like a good place to start. In the meantime, here are some of Joyce’s thoughts on the topic of names.

Wolf At The Door

Names In Jan Xu: Why Chines Wolves Have Chinese Names

by Joyce Chng

When I started writing Wolf At The Door, the first book in the Jan Xu Adventures urban fantasy series, I actually planned to have Chinese names for the characters in the story, simply because they are Singaporean Chinese wolves and other types of animal/non-human creatures.

For people who are curious, Wolf At The Door is set in Singapore. It has sibling rivalry, relationships and ties, adventure and mythical animals. The core of it is a Chinese wolf pack. Why Chinese wolf packs? Why not? I wanted to see someone whom I could relate to and frankly, the current range of urban fantasy novels do not appeal to me.

Jan Xu, the main character and kickass heroine in the series, has her Chinese name. Her sister, Marianne, is also named by their parents, the leaders of the Xu wolf pack. Chinese names have meanings and are an integral part of our identity. Jan and Marianne have “Christian” or English names, harking to a period of time in Singapore when having an English name was fashionable or hip. It is still fashionable now in the 21st century.  Parents are still giving their children interesting (and sometimes, unpronounceable) names. Jan’s and Marianne’s Chinese names are Xu Yin and Xu Yue respectively, basically Silver and Moon, Xu being the family surname/last name.  Silver and Moon are nods to the werewolf and lycanthropy tropes; they are also beautiful Chinese names given to girls. Marianne, for example, was born on a full moon, hence Moon (Yue). Jan is Silver, partly because I am partial to the character/name.

The other characters, Lee Ling and Wee Kiat, are Jan’s close friends and former members of the Gang of Four, a group of teen non-human/shifter vigilantes led by Jan. Ling, a fox, and Kiat, a silver Chinese dragon, form the secondary story or Story B, as you will. Their lives are however deeply intertwined with Jan’s life as events in the novels are often linked to them. Their pasts are heavily woven into Jan’s life and she feels indebted to them. Like Jan, they too are members of the Myriad, an umbrella term given to all the non-human groups living in Singapore.

There you go – my reasons why Chinese wolves have Chinese names.


Joyce Chng on Twitter, and Web.

The next guest on the series is blogger and 2013 debut author Ros Jackson. Her post will go up this coming Thursday on the 5th December. You can find a full schedule here.

Posted on December 2, 2013, in Debut Authors Guest Series, Guest Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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