Princess Leizu

Reflecting at the manner in which this story has evolved, I am amazed at how it has been transformed from its original concept.  It often seems that some, perhaps all, creative projects must be allowed enough freedom to take their own direction; indeed this one has a mind of its own.

My story arose out of Chinese legend.  Chinese legend holds that, in the 27th century BC, Empress Leizu, wife of the Yellow Emperor, was asked by her husband to find out why the leaves of mulberry trees in the Palace grove were thinning.   She discovered on inspection that caterpillars were nesting in the trees and eating the leaves.  She brought one of the cocoons with her while she was about to have her afternoon tea.  At one point, she dropped the cocoon into her warm tea.  Legend has it that the adhesive that held the cocoon together was softened by the warm tea and began to unravel.  Her inspection of the thread revealed its unique strength and thin construction.

Up until the 27th century BC, the weaving industry had to rely on animal and plant sources to make thread in the construction of fabric.  This new discovery was heralded as the beginning of the silk industry.

I decided to use Leizu’s name but changed her family background to create a younger character with whom young readers can identify.  In my story, she is the daughter of the Emperor. Her mother dies at childbirth and her Aunt Wu raises her.  Aunt Wu gives her care and love.  Even though she is the daughter of the Emperor, Leizu is not afforded a luxurious life since the kingdom is very poor.