Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

Easily Set Aflame (轻易放火) — Chapter 2.1

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There are advantages with being a screenwriter, like getting to see your idol in action, but there are disadvantages, too…

Chapter 2.1 — A Forced Cameo Role (1)

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or re-posting are not authorized. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.

Ever since the drama’s official character stills were released, they were madly forwarded and discussed online.

When Jia He was busy, she would be revising the script, and when she was free, she would browse through websites and read through comments left by Yi Wenze’s fans.

She had actually always felt that screenwriting is a good profession. There is no need to work regular office hours. You only need to sit around with the story editor and other screenwriters and idly chat until you have worked out together the scene breakdown for the overall outline. Then, each person gets assigned episodes to work on, takes them away, and starts writing, and that’s all. Even if you have to be with the cast and crew for production, you only have to sit in your own room and do not need to endure the intense heat or bitter cold of the filming site. It’s the perfect career choice for homebody-type girls.

Currently, as she fixed her attention on the several hundred comments under Yi Wenze’s Weibo[1], she had one more self-gratifying reason that she could add.

The scene being filmed today was her favourite. The male and female lead, as well as a group of younger-generation nobility, were competing in calligraphy in front of Wu Zetian[2].

She had specifically asked for the filming schedule and then requested Qiao Qiao to bring her over to watch when the time came. The result, of course, was that she had gotten a look of disdain in exchange, plus, without the slightest hesitation, agreement to her request.

While she was thinking this, she was also pondering that she should change into that black down coat so that she could completely blend into and disappear in the film site and avoid getting herself into any more embarrassing predicaments. Fortunately, the director and assistant director doing this scene had never seen her before, having only gone through Director Jiang whenever they had any opinions on the script. Therefore, she only needed to stand in a corner somewhere and then absolutely no one would take notice of her.

Right when she was lost in thought, a news window popped up in her MSN account, which had automatically logged in for her.

A glaring headline immediately caught her eye: Source reveals that Tian Chu had an extramarital affair first. A certain popular Taiwanese singer declines to respond.

The words were not in a big font, but they were enough to bring shock.

Jia He’s heart skipped several beats, and she nearly was unable to breathe. She was even more shocked than when, back then, she saw Gu Yu’s arm around the shoulder of her own department manager.

Swiftly, she linked up the recent gossip news and filled in in her mind the causes and resulting sequence of events. Before her eyes now was the image of the stairwell at the press conference and how, leaning against the wall, Yi Wenze had finished off his cigarette in only a few drags and then the first thing he said after was that the two of them should leave separately from there, lest she be dragged into everything and people made mistaken assumptions about her. A fire of anger seemed to ignite in her heart, burning and burning. She was burning to the point she was dizzy, when Xiao Ou knocked on the door and told her she could go now.

She slipped on her coat. The car she was riding was Qiao Qiao’s. The cast had already long since arrived at the filming site to prepare, so naturally only the driver and Qiao Qiao were in the vehicle.

Qiao Qiao, her head lowered, was text messaging and did not even look up. “Hey, net junkie, have you seen the news?”

Giving an “uh-huh” in answer, Jia He continued fueling that fire in her heart.

“Your idol sure gets enough grievance to suffer through.” Qiao Qiao licked her lips. Right as she was about to lift her head, another text message alert sounded and she hastily clicked the message open, all the while carrying on, “Tian Chu started in the entertainment industry very early on, but she never made it big in Hong Kong with her singing. Then when she went over to Taiwan, her agent conned her, and she couldn’t even afford to feed herself. Had she not relied on Yi Wenze, she absolutely would not have become popular. But now, that’s great; she’s done with using him, so she’s gone and hooked up with someone who’s more popular.”

Whoosh! A whole bucket of oil had been thrown right into Jia He’s face, igniting her so that she now burned with True Samadhi Fire[3].

“Hey, you say,” Qiao Qiao said with seriousness, finally finding a moment to take a glimpse of Jia He, “what sort of abilities does that woman have? How did she manage to beguile the guy into marrying her? You’re a screenwriter, so doing character personality profiles is your strong point. Help me analyze this.” Because Qiao Qiao’s track record showed that every relationship she was in was guaranteed to come to an end, she was already at a whole level of her own when it came to longing for marriage, and so her mind completely filtered out Jia He’s mood in this moment and she jumped straight into discussing the games and tactics that Tian Chu used.

Jia He’s eyes were glinting and penetrating as they fixed on her, and she stated with sharp finality, “Because Yi Wenze is a good person with good character.”

Sweating with chagrin, Qiao Qiao raised her mobile phone and carried on texting.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

When Jia He and Qiao Qiao arrived, the director was in the midst of staring at the monitor and carrying out a discussion, while Liao Jing was there on the side with a down coat draped over her shoulders. On the set, the gaffer and best boy were setting up the lighting arrangements. There were the sounds of crew members speaking in low tones, the noise of equipment being moved, the excited voice of the assistant director as he ran through a scene with the actors… With all this chaotic hustle and bustle, her anxiety that she had barely managed to repress was now dredged up once more. Jia He unconsciously swept her gaze over the entire film set, trying to find a place to sit down.

But unexpectedly, she caught sight of Yi Wenze.

The spot he was in was very dim. From her particular angle, she could only see that his head was slightly lowered and he was standing behind a desk, a brush in hand and writing with it. As it had rained last night, the ambient temperature had dropped several degrees. This film set had no measures to provide heat, and everybody’s shoulders were draped with down jackets. He, though, wore only a casual button-up shirt, its sleeves rolled up to his elbows in such a way that even the folds were very neat and tidy.

The black tip of the writing brush was brought to the snow-white xuan paper[4], and instantly the ink stained the paper and spread, flowingly creating a line of characters.

Jia He absolutely knew Yi Wenze’s celebrity profile by heart, to the extent that she could recite it backwards, from the songs he liked to the animal he hated, but she had never known that he knew how to do traditional Chinese calligraphy. Slight curiosity arose in her, and she wanted to see what his writing was like. It so happened that at this moment, the costumer called Yi Wenze to change into his costume, so she took advantage of this opportunity to quietly slip up beside the writing desk and swiftly have a glance at his calligraphy. Her heart gave a fierce leap.

Each character carried a force and strength in its writing, its every brush stroke penetrating and deep. They were the words in the drama with which the male lead expressed his feelings for the female lead. And, they were also the sentences she was most proud of:

I fear not that these feelings have arisen; I fear only that too late have I become aware of them. But as I have pledged to forever take your hand in mine, thus shall I never forsake you.

“That’s some nice calligraphy.” Qiao Qiao moseyed up beside her and also poked her head over for a look.

“Naturally,” Jia He softly replied.

“It really is quite good.” Qiao Qiao darted a glance at Yi Wenze, who was conferring with the director about the scene. “Even after being soaked in the great dye vat for twenty years, he’s still a very cultured pickle.”

“Can you not describe my idol as a pickle?” Jia He shot her a look of contempt.

“I was out of descriptive words. It’s not like I’m a screenwriter.” Picking up that sheet of xuan paper, Qiao Qiao beamed at Yi Wenze and asked him, “Teacher Yi, would it be all right if you gave this to me?”

Hearing her call him, Yi Wenze lifted his eyes, looked towards where they were, and gave a nod to the two of them, which could be considered his greeting to them. “I just arbitrarily wrote that. If you like it, go ahead and take it.”

A grin spread across Qiao Qiao’s face, and she purposely used Cantonese to say thank you to him. Then, she immediately folded the paper in half and handed it over to Jia He.

This action was done in full view of everyone. Jia He froze.

While Jia He was still wrestling with herself, thinking it would be inappropriate to take it, but also inappropriate to not take it, Qiao Qiao had already grabbed Jia He’s bag and stuffed the paper into it.

The assistant director was sitting off to the side, mirthfully watching all of this, and nonchalantly he commented, “Qiao Qiao, you’re using your position for personal gain, eh. You’ve even brought a fan in with you.”

Qiao Qiao gave an “ah” and patted Jia He on the shoulder. “Assistant Director, this is our screenwriter.”

Her reputation… was completely ruined…

Resigning herself to this, Jia He greeted the two directors. She felt as if her bag contained a time bomb, and she could not stay here for even one moment longer… With a fake smile plastered to her face, she gave Qiao Qiao’s coat a vicious yank and shot her a glower that declared she was absolutely going to kill her. Qiao Qiao very sensibly chose to put a stop to her original intention of giving an extravagant introduction of Jia He. Giving a couple of laughs, she said that she was heading over to the other set for a look and then, bringing Jia He with her, walked out from there.

<>Please show your support for this translation by reading it at its actual site of posting, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, instead. Thank you.

Only after the black curtain had been set back down did Jia He lift her face to the blue sky and let out a sigh of misery.

Just from every once in a while coming and joining in on the fun, she should have realized that, from the press conference onward, this whole drama filming had become the stage for the destruction of her image.

However, since she had come out with Qiao Qiao already, she needed to at least take a token jaunt around everywhere. The two of them sent the driver away and drove themselves, checking out the shooting of the other scene as well. To avoid the awkwardness she would feel if she went back to the other film set, she refused to leave here no matter what. So, the two stayed at this other scene’s film site for the entire afternoon. When evening arrived and a winter rain began sprinkling from the gloomy, overcast sky, Qiao Qiao received a phone call informing her that filming today had gone very well and work had wrapped up earlier than planned, and telling her to go have dinner with everyone.

Since coming on site for production, this was actually Jia He’s first time eating with the cast and crew. Qiao Qiao purposely selected a larger restaurant. Before they had even gotten out of their vehicle, they could see that in the lobby there was a large group of people in the midst of enthusiastic discussion, every once in a while pointing here and there on a row of photographs of different dishes. Judging from the equally “high quality” faces of the beautiful girls and handsome guys who were present, they knew that this was the cast of another production that was also currently filming in Hengdian.

Yi Wenze had removed his filming costume and was garbed merely in simple athletic wear. Since stepping out of the vehicle, he had easily become the focal point of attention of the masses.

As if they had radars, the eyes of the relatively younger actresses in the lobby immediately looked through the glass and homed in on him. Showing expressions of excitement, those actresses brought their heads down and talked amongst themselves. Jia He’s mood, which had been down for the whole afternoon, at last was pulled back up by all these undisguised stares of idolization. See, Yi Wenze’s fans were everywhere. She wasn’t considered that extreme…

Yi Wenze, however, looked completely at ease, talking on the phone with his agent while also, in passing, pulling open the glass door for Jia He.

“Thank you,” she said.

He gave a smile and very quickly hung up his call. Behind him, his assistant, A-Qing, was already holding open the door for him, and he and Jia He walked one after the other into the lobby.

“What would you like to eat?” Stopping in front of a row of photographs of actual dishes, he looked over it carefully a couple of times.

“Cooked pork sandwiched in mantou[5].” In a moment of nervousness, Jia He blurted out this specialty local dish of Hengdian.

Actually, she did not like eating meat…

Yi Wenze nodded, then ordered two orders of the dish.

<>It would be sincerely appreciated if you would support the translation by reading it at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, its actual site of posting, instead. Thank you.

“Teacher Yi,”—Qiao Qiao ran over and pointed to the upstairs level—“I’ll order. You guys head up first.” Once she finished saying this, she even used her shoulder to bump Jia He. Jia He threw her a glare as she took in her grin. That absolutely was an expression that a “toxic” friend would wear.

When the two stepped into the private room, everyone was in the midst of laughing and chatting. Occasionally, the topic of candidates for roles that still had not been confirmed would be brought up. Jia He deliberately went over and took a seat beside Xiao Ou. Seeing that Yi Wenze had sat down on the opposite side, she at last could relax. For actors or actresses who will only have one or two lines to say, the best plan is simply to go to the actors’ guild to find one when you need one. Even Xiao Ou could not be bothered to listen to this conversation, but Jia He actually listened attentively for a while with quite some interest.

This was, after all, a story of her creation, and she held great affection for everyone in it, even the maidservant who only carried a tray.

Those several people who had been speaking away all of a sudden stopped. The assistant director put on a solemn manner and looked Jia He over carefully. “In all seriousness, this screenwriter of ours is actually quite suitable. There are only two scenes. There shouldn’t be any problems.”

Jia He had been in mid-sip of her tea, and now at once she swallowed it down with a gulping sound. “I can’t do it. My whole face goes stiff when I’m just facing a photo camera, much less the lens of a video camera.”

Her mind wandered ever so slightly. How did she somehow get dragged into the topic? The actors’ guild had several thousand fair maidens on standby. Why were they tormenting her for no reason? Jia He threw a look of innocent suffering at Qiao Qiao, who had just taken a seat beside her.

“I didn’t order too much. We’ll make do and just eat what there is.” Qiao Qiao smoothed her own hair. Just as she was about to feel for her mobile phone, she finally noticed the plea for help in Jia He’s eyes. Dropping her voice, she asked, “What’s wrong?”

“There’s one role that all this while still hasn’t been decided on. They want to put Screenwriter in to do the cameo.” Xiao Ou turned a pitying gaze on Jia He. To someone who had no natural talent for performance, this was practically a form of cruel torture.

Qiao Qiao was grinning so widely her eyes had narrowed into slits, and for once she actually ignored her phone’s text messages. “Not bad, not bad. What role is this?”

“One of the concubines of the male lead.” The assistant director emphatically supplemented them with this piece of information.

Qiao Qiao’s smile was one of gloating over someone’s misfortune. “I remember the male lead is bestowed N number of women in marriage, but he gives the cold shoulder to all of them because his heart is only for the female lead, yes? The role’s got a lot of challenge to it.”

She had beseeched the wrong person for help.

Jia He once more fell into despair.

At this time, the server was already beginning to bring out the dishes. Before Jia He’s eyes, the lazy Susan glass turntable, carrying steaming hot dishes on it, was continuously spinning dish after dish past her. The assistant director fished out a lighter, lit up a cigarette for himself with it, and then, cupping the flame with one hand, held it up to Yi Wenze. Casually, he asked, “Teacher Yi, what’s your thought on this?”

Yi Wenze gave a push to the turntable. When the dish of mantou paired with cooked pork came to a perfect stop right in front of Jia He, he finally lit up a cigarette with the assistant director’s lighter and pondered briefly. “I think it’s quite a good idea.”

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

[1] 微博. This literally means “microblog.” Weibo is often compared to Twitter but with other features such as threaded comments, etc. The biggest microblogging service in China is offered by Sina, and its full name is actually Sina Weibo, although due to its popularity, “Weibo” usually directly refers to Sina Weibo.

[2] Wu Zetian (also known as Wuhou, Wu Zhao, Wu Meiniang, Empress Consort Wu, or simply Empress Wu, 624 – 705) is famous for being the first and only female to rule China as emperor (empress regnant). She originally was the concubine of Emperor Taizong of the Tang dynasty, and then later, after Taizong’s death, she married his son, Emperor Gaozong and eventually became empress consort. She ended up deposing her own son, Emperor Ruizong, from the throne and proclaiming herself as emperor.

[3] 三昧真火 “san mei zhen huo.” The True Samadhi Fire is a fire of legends that is said to be inextinguishable, most known for having been cultivated by the Red Child in the story of Journey to the West.

[4] 宣纸 “xuan zhi.” Also called “rice paper.” A special type of white paper known for its softness, fine texture, strength, and absorption. Used since ancient times in China for brush calligraphy and painting, it is resistant to aging and decay.

[5] 馒头 “mantou.” One of the traditional staples of ethnic Han Chinese food, it is a yeast-based type of bun that is steamed and contains no filling. In the city of Dongyang (in which Hengdian World Studios is located), 馒头熓肉, which is mantou paired with cooked pork cut into small pieces, is a dish often served in grand feasts. The mantou is formed into a round shape with a flat bottom. To eat this dish, the mantou is stuffed with the pork and eaten together, like a sandwich.

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or re-posting are not authorized. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.

 

Completed:
1 of 1 Prologue
4 of 58 Chapter segments
0 of 4 Epilogues

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28 thoughts on “Easily Set Aflame (轻易放火) — Chapter 2.1

  1. Hi, I was wondering, how are things progressing with your blog bookshushengbar ?

    • Peanuts is working hard on moving it to a new site. There have been quite a few hiccups, but she hasn’t abandoned it. Thanks for your interest in SSB. 🙂

  2. YW is so sweet to turn the dish that she mentioned earlier wanting to eat in front of her. Is he already had some thoughts on her from here? The writing that he did was mean for her?
    Thank you for such a lovely read. Happy Weekend Hoju 😍

    • The writing is from the script. You can interpret it as you will. 🙂 He is a gentleman through and through.
      Thanks for reading.

  3. Smiling ear to ear while reading this. Ah i ship them so hard.. Lols.

    Teacher Yi ah, have you fallen for her already ah? Hehe..

    Thanks as always hoju. Happy weekend.

  4. Thanks Hoju

  5. Qiao Qiao I know you mean well but poor Jia He😂😂…

  6. Thank you Hoju, his sweetness enlightened my week-end

  7. Thanks Hoju. Right now I still feel like Yi Wenze is being nice to his die hard fan.
    Can’t wait to see the progress of their relationship!

  8. Lol 😀. Jia He is being put on spot everytime. And liking Idol’s subtle gentleman actions towards screenwriter.

    Thank you for the chapter, Hoju 🙂.

  9. three cheers to you, Hoju. We are back on our Wednesday and Saturday mornings rendevous. Thank you!

  10. how attentive of YZW, extra care
    thank you

  11. HAHAHA the situation she has caught herself in is a fun one. And completely possible if she is working on the filmset. Hehehe. I am excited for more hijinks!!

    • Haha, fun for us readers, torture for her. I can sympathize. The author is a screenwriter herself, so I wonder how much of this she has personally experienced or had first-hand accounts related to her.

  12. Thanks for the chapter.
    I don’t know that I’m quite feeling the zing of their connection yet; though the potential is definitely there. Yi Wenze has made a few nice sweet gestures, but are they enough to move her beyond just idol worship to a true emotional connection? And how has he fallen for her … surely not just through her writing?

    • I think you’re in the right spot. You can count on one hand the number of times they’ve seen one another in person. As for the rest of your questions, I will just let you read on. We are not even 10% into the novel yet. 🙂
      Thanks for reading!

  13. I feel a little guilty for enjoying Jia He’s discomfort. It’s like teasing a small rabbit. But Yi Wenze is so considerate. Now she has the chance to act with him. For her sake, I hope she is good at the role. But somehow, I don’t think her life will be so easy!

    When Jia He describes the job of a screenwriter, I wonder how much of that is Mo Bao Fei Bao’s real feelings? It’s fun to get a small taste of a screewriter’s job. Thank you!

    • I can relate to Jia He. That would be my worst nightmare. But… to act opposite your idol. Aaaaah!

      Yes, I believe those are very much a reflection of MBFB’s feelings. She had commented many times that she is a night owl. She indeed does not sleep until two or three in the morning and doesn’t get up until late in the morning or even afternoon. Screenwriting is only her secondary job, though. As for being on site for production, I’m not certain. She has said that she does not go on site ever, but in her early years in the profession, she may have. Of course, she would certainly have contacts in the industry and this could be drawing from their experiences, too.

      • You’re so good at portraying all of Jia He’s conflicted feelings! Haha. I hope the translation isn’t too difficult.

        Thanks for the insight into MBFB’s feelings! Knowing the author’s intent adds another layer to the story, making it richer.

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