Welcome to my author page!
My debut novel, The Lacquered Talisman, is the first in a planned series of historical fiction about Zhu Yuanzhang 朱元璋, the founder of China's Ming Dynasty. This book was released in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is ironic since one important focus of The Lacquered Talisman is on the impact of the plague, which spread through the Huai River valley when my protagonist was 16. Of course I could not have dreamed that my own world would be wrestling with a deadly pandemic as my book headed to press. Now I continue to ponder how the plague changed the life of the future Ming founder. More than two decades passed from the plague strike of 1344 to the Ming founding in 1368, but the event that launched Zhu Yuanzhang toward fame and glory was the devastation wrought by a pandemic. It is the single incident that pushed him off his expected trajectory of farming alongside his brothers in the fields along the Huai River. If not for the plague, China would not have had a Ming Dynasty.
Zhu Yuanzhang wrote about his family's struggles and suffering in his autobiographical essay, known as the Imperial Tomb Tablet of the Great Ming because it was carved into stone and mounted before the graves of Zhu’s parents after he founded the Ming Dynasty. The Lacquered Talisman is a fictionalized version of the first 53 lines of this text. You can read my annotated translation of the entire text by clicking on the PDF in this link.
You can also find out more about my work on my blog: https://lauriedennis.com/
I am currently working on Book 2 in my series on the Ming founding, which will focus on the woman who becomes Zhu Yuanzhang's empress and the years 1352-55, when Zhu Yuanzhang rose through the ranks of the Red Turban rebellion. I hope to have this book ready for press by the end of 2020.
As for my background, I grew up in Illinois and Minnesota and have been studying Chinese since I was a high school freshman in Minneapolis. I have worked as a journalist in the U.S. and in Beijing, China, and have traveled widely across China, including a research trip to Fengyang, Anhui Province, the birthplace of the Ming founder. I am based in Madison, Wisconsin.