MAKERS Profile

Yan Geling

Novelist and Screenwriter

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In her MAKERS video, Yan discusses her longtime love of the arts, her success as a prolific novelist, and writing strong female characters. 
Yan Geling grew up in Shanghai with very artistic parents, her talent for dance winning her a place in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) dance troupe at the young age of 12, an experience she would later write about. When the Sino-Vietnamese war broke out, she became a journalist on the front line; this experience shaped her into a permanent pacifist. After moving to the United States, Yan began writing books and screenplays in English and Chinese featuring strong female characters, many of which were based on real women she knew in China. Her mother-in-law was one of her biggest inspirations, a wife of a very famous novelist who managed to maintain the balance of local Chinese women throughout her husband’s fame and hardship. Yan has published over 25 award-winning novels with the goal to show that women are just as powerful as men, which she achieves through her strong female characters.