My Splendid Concubine by Lloyd Lofthouse

Join Lloyd Lofthouse, author of the historical fiction novel, My Splendid Concubine (iUniverse, Dec. '07), as he virtually tours the blogosphere in December and January on his first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion!

About the author:

As a field radio operator, Lloyd Lofthouse was a walking target in Vietnam in 1966. He has skied in blizzards at forty below zero and climbed mountains in hip deep snow.

Lloyd earned a BA in journalism after fighting in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine. Later, while working days as an English teacher at a high school in California, he earned an MFA in writing. He enjoyed a job as a maitre d’ in a multimillion-dollar nightclub and tried his hand successfully at counting cards in Las Vegas for a few years. He now lives near San Francisco with his wife, with a second home in Shanghai, China. Lloyd says that snapshots of his life appear like multicolored ribbons flowing through many of his poems.

This link takes you to Lloyd's 'Vietnam Experience' page filled with photos. He took many of them. Since Lloyd still has to edit the photos so they load faster, this page may load slow for older computers.

This link will take you to a media piece from a Southern California newspaper that Lloyd copied and posted on his Website that will give you an idea about his teaching years.

If you are interesting in learning more about Lloyd's teaching experience, you are welcome to read about it at AuthorsDen. 'Word Dancer' is a memoir of the 1994-1995 school year. He kept a daily journal that year. He is using that journal to write 'Word Dancer'. Everyday, when he arrived home, Lloyd wrote an entry in that journal. It sat on a shelf in his garage for fourteen years gathering dust. Spiders moved into the binder and built a nest. After all those years, Lloyd forgot he'd written it. When he was cleaning the garage, he found it again. Lloyd started reading, remembering and writing. Everything he writes in 'Word Dancer' happened. He's using a primary source as his guide. Memory may be faulty, but a daily journal written the day an event took place is as accurate as it can get from the author's point-of-view.

Accomplishments: Lloyd's short story "A Night at the Well of Purity" was named a finalist for the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards.As a teacher, Lloyd found satisfaction in the number of students that published nationally and internationally while attending his English and journalism classes.

You can visit his website at

About the book:

Driven by a passion for his adopted country, Robert Hart became the “godfather of China’s modernism,” inspector general of China’s Customs Service, and the builder of China’s railroads, postal and telegraph systems, and schools, but his first real love is Ayaou, a young concubine.


"Love for ones wives' sister is typically forbidden by most Western religions, but the most successful Westerner in Chinese history is faced with this conflict. "My Splendid Concubine" is the tale of Robert Hart who deals with matters of his lust and how to deal with them the Chinese way, which so conflcit with his upbringing. The Taiping Rebellion doesn't help matters, him making enemies of established and skilled mercenaries in the process of protecting his interest and the women he loves. "My Splendid Concubine" is packed cover to cover with intriguing characters and plot, a must read for historical fiction fans and a fine addition to any collection on the genre."--Midwest Book Reviews

"What makes this story something other than a cliched period piece is the fact that Lofthouse drew his narrative from fragments of Hart’s own diaries which Hart himself was supposed to have burned before his death. Hart was a prodigious correspondent, and the 40 odd volumes of letters he left behind became a foundational document for modern Sinologists-including John King Fairbank-who sought reasons for modern China’s highly problematic entrance into modernity.If even half of Lofthouse’s narrative is true, it’s a stunning work that enmeshes imperialism, modernity, miscegenation and plain old desire in a sweaty matrix of destruction and painful birth."--City Weekend Magazine

I was lucky enough to be able to ask the author some questions. Here's what he had to say:

Could you please tell us a little about your book?

I hope you don’t mind if I answer this question with a quote from the commentary a Writer’s Digest judge wrote about ‘My Splendid Concubine’. It came in the mail the last week in November:

"... A fascinating illumination of nineteenth-century Chinese culture and the complex Englishman Robert Hart, the father of China’s modernization. Hart’s struggles adapting to Chinese culture, always feeling the pull and force of his Victorian British background, are compelling. His relationships with his concubine and his concubine’s sister are poignant—the novel is as much a study of the complexities of love as it is anything else. A powerful novel whose beauty exceeds that of the book’s cover."

Did something specific happen to prompt you to write this book?

The summer of 1999, before we were married, my wife mentioned I might be interested in the life of Sir Robert Hart. I Googled Hart and discovered that Harvard’s Council on East Asian Studies had published four volumes of Hart’s journals and letters covering most of his years in China (1854-1908). I bought and read them and was hooked. I discovered a mystery linked to a love story. Near his death in 1911, Hart burned his journals that covered almost three years starting in 1855. It isn’t a coninceidnee that he met Ayaou, his concubine, in 1855. I wanted to know why? I also wanted to recreate that love story and the China Hart sailed to.

Who or what is the inspiration behind this book?

Love between a real man and woman is the inspiration behind this book. I wanted to recreate the world of Hart and Ayaou as I imagined it but not without knowing China and the Chinese culture.

Who is your biggest supporter?

My wife who wrote the Foreword for ‘My Splendid Concubine’.

Your biggest critic?

I would have to say my wife’s agent. Without her constructive criticism in 2001, ‘My Splendid Concubine’ would have probably stayed in the first person point-of-view. I also might not have spent another seven years revising the manuscript while I continued to build my knowledge of Chinese culture and weave what I learned into the story.

What cause are you most passionate about and why?

There are so many things I’m passionate about that I don’t know where to begin. My relationships are important. Evidently, writing is near the top of that list. I also love to ski. Hiking mountains is another passion. I don’t do those last two as much as I’d like. I love to read a good book and go out to see a good movie. I love to wake up each morning and start the day. How about a night sky in the Sierras full of stars?

In the last year have you learned or improved on any skills?

I spent more than the last year studying the craft of characterization. I applied what I learned to the last revision of ‘My Splendid Concubine’ before editing the grammar and mechanics. Improving writing skills should never stop.

What is the most important thing in your life right now?

My relationship with my wife.

What are you currently working on?

I’m slowly completing the final draft of ‘Our Hart’, the sequel to ‘My Splendid Concubine’. I’m also writing poetry and posting those poems at Authors Den.

In addition, I’ve been writing a memoir called ‘Word Dancer’ about one year in my life as a teacher. I kept a journal in 1994-1995, and I’m converting that.

Since we returned from China in October, I’ve been editing the final draft of my wife’s next book too.

Do you have any advice for writers or readers?

I would tell writers that you are never good enough so keep learning the craft—never stop. If you love to write and tell a story, don’t give up.

Is there an author that inspired you to write?

Ray Bradbury. In 1968, after being discharged from the Marine Corps, I went to college on the GI Bill. Bradbury gave a lecture that year at that college and I went.

What are some of your long term goals?

First: to keep writing
Second: start my own small press and publish a few deserving authors that find it next to impossible to deal with the traditional publishing establishment that seems more interested in making loads of money instead of supporting worthwhile literature.

What do you feel sets this book apart from others in the same genre?

The fact that ‘My Splendid Concubine’ is a love story based on real people. Even Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet were not real. Hart and Ayaou were real. Also, the complexity of their love story since the two lovers came from such different and alien cultures.

You know the scenario – you’re stuck on an island. What book would you bring with you and why?

One Book.
My gosh!
I would beg for more. If my request were rejected, I’d probably take ‘The Lord of the Rings’ by Tolkien. I’ve read it and seen the movie three times. I doubt if I’ll ever grow tired of Tolkien’s masterpiece. I hope they’d let me take the movies too. There better be electricity and a good DVD player on that island.

Are you a different person now than you were 5 years ago? In what way/s?

Oh, yes! Five years ago I was still in the classroom teaching. I was frustrated, sick, angry and tired all the time. I left teaching three years ago after being part of the dysfunctional public educational system for thirty years. That anger has since dissipated and dissolved. Life is better.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from life so far?

That no matter how difficult or painful life can be, all things have an ending just like a good book does. I learned how to get in touch with my inner self. I also spend some quiet time alone each day keeping that connection alive.


MY SPLENDID CONCUBINE VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on December 1 and end on January 30. You can visit Lloyd's blog stops at in December and January to find out where he is appearing!As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner(s) will be announced at the end of every month!

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