The author who gave birth to what’s perhaps the bestselling Thai historical novel in a decade never imagined that her novel would become a pop sensation
By Gail Piyanan|
The TV show Buppesannivas, or Love Destiny, has created a national phenomenon that Thais have never seen in years. People rush back home after work to catch the show, leaving Bangkok’s roads unbelievably car-free; its lead actors have become superstars; historical locations mentioned in the series are checked out and instragrammed by visitors. Everything Buppesannivas-related sells out fast, including the original historical novel penned by its author Janyavee Sompreeda, who’s better known by her pen name Rompaeng.
Similar to many great authors, Rompaeng journey to success wasn’t smooth-sailing. The art history graduate from Silpakorn University laid her career path through 11 different jobs, none of which were writing-related, before she discovered her true calling. In her first year as a writer, she finished six books in different genres, ranging from Thai fantasy to period rom-com. "Buppesannivas is probably my 16th or 17th novel. I spent three years conducting research [for this book] and only a month to write it all up," says Rompaeng. Her masterpiece, which was first published in 2010, is set in the Ayutthaya period during the reign of King Narai, some 300 years before our time. The reign of King Narai was the longest, wealthiest, and probably most "international" period in Ayutthaya’s 417-year history, welcoming expats, foreign visitors, and missionaries, many of whom detailed their experiences in journals through written work and drawn images. These later became resource material for people like Rompaeng, who would use these historical narratives and combine them with imagination to create her own story. Buppesannivas is a certified hit—it’s been reprinted more than 70 times and, of course, has been adapted into a primetime TV sensation.
Rompaeng reveals that she has a plan to write a sequel to Buppesannivas, which will be named Soulmate. But don’t hold your breath just yet. The author is busy finishing up her first sci-fi novel entitled Four Blood.