On Radishes…I mean Rakes and Rogues
Sometimes I envy Regency authors. You want to write about a sexy rake, you write about a sexy rake. Me, I have to wonder if the word “rake” itself sounds too, well, Regency. Since my stories take place in imperial China, it’s reasonable to assume everything is translated anyway, but I have to be careful about words that will pull the reader out of the story.
So what would be a “rake” reasonably be called in Tang Dynasty China?
A while back, I did a little research into Chinese terms and slang about love and relationships and discovered the idiom “flower heart big radish” (花心大萝卜), which is used to refer to a dissolute man who shamelessly lures women with romantic advances. Sure sounds like a rake to me!
But can readers fall in love with a hero described as a “big radish”
I settled on the phrase “playboy” as sounding more cross-cultural than rake. Playboy is translated as “hua hua gong zi” (花花公子) which literally means “flower prince” – a term which appears in THE LOTUS PALACE when describing the failed scholar and aristocratic playboy, Bai Huang.
(Rumor has it that Playboy Magazine does not like that translation at all.)
Bai Huang was one of my favorite heroes to write. He’s bad. Racked up gambling debts and got himself knifed bad. Thrown onto a boat and shipped off to sea bad.
We first meet him when he’s on the road to redemption, but it’s not an easy thing to earn back the respect of his family and peers, especially when he’s become everyone’s beloved fool and failed scholar.
In Regency England, a rake is usually rebelling against his stuffy upbringing, his domineering father and cold mother. He rejects the social norms of his day and invites scandal. But I couldn’t write an English rake. I had to write a Tang Dynasty rake, one who, for all his bad habits, wants desperately to succeed in the imperial exams. One for whom dishonor means not only blackening his name, but his entire family’s.
But a rake by any other name….
To take a page from Jade Lee’s book, I thought I’d end with a couple of inspirational pictures. Here’s the International Edition of Rakes and Rogues.
One of my favorites: Takeshi Kaneshiro in House of Flying Daggers. As a lawman undercover, he thinks he’ll find the secret rebel lair by seducing the rebel leader’s daughter…but lovely and dangerous Zhang Ziyi is not so easily wooed.
I thought pop star Rain was too boyish looking to be a badass until he ab’ed it out for his role in Ninja Assassin.
“I've been alive for hundreds of years. I've been with men, been with women - with faeries and warlocks and vampires, and even a djinn or two.” – Magnus Bane from The Mortal Instruments
With Godfrey Gao in the role, I’d certainly believe that faeries and warlocks and men and women would fall for him.
Hotties in any language, wouldn’t you agree?
Let’s hear about some of your favorite cross-cultural Rakes and Rogues….or Big Radishes. Comment to be entered in the contest.
THE LOTUS PALACE, a historical romance and murder mystery set in the Tang Dynasty, is available now in print or ebook.
Blurb: When a famous courtesan is murdered, a clever maidservant teams up with the notorious playboy and failed scholar of the Pingkang li to solve the crime, but can they defy the bonds of class and culture to find love and happiness?
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**Ladies, Rakes, & Rogues Catch Phrase – Loved A Woman **
***Stop by all five blogs on RomCon each Saturday through 10/12/13 to collect all five catch phrases for a chance to win a Kindle Fire pre-loaded with WHAT THE BRIDE WORE by Jade Lee, THE LOTUS PALACE by Jeannie Lin, THE SEDUCTION OF LADY PHOEBE by Ella Quinn, THE EARL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE by Sara Ramsey, and ONCE A RAKE by Eileen Dreyer! Sweepstakes ends 10/19/13 at midnight est. All entries must have all five catch phrases to qualify.
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