Jan Alexander grew up in a family of political activists and always imagined that someday she’d write a utopian novel. Later, a trip to a ghostly village in China’s Sichuan province inspired her to write a tale drawn from Chinese mythology and her own contemporary political fantasies; the result was Ms. Ming’s Guide to Civilization, an upcoming release from Regal House.
Ms. Ming, a Leapfrog Press fiction prize semi-finalist, is Jan’s second novel. She is also the author of Getting to Lamma, a tale of an American woman’s adventures in post-Tiananmen China, and co-author of Bad Girls of the Silver Screen, a nonfiction book that examines the characterization of prostitutes in Hollywood films from the earliest “white slavery” silents through the “undressed for success” movies of the 1980s. Her short fiction has appeared in 34th Parallel, Everyday Fiction, Neworld Review (where she is the editor-at-large) and Silver Birch Press.
After roaming around North America in her teens and twenties — Chicago; Hot Springs, Arkansas; Toronto; New Orleans; and Los Angeles–Jan earned a Masters degree in Chinese history and politics at Columbia University, then worked as a business and travel writer in Asia. She has written for Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes Woman, Money, Institutional Investor, Strategy+Business, the Chicago Tribune, and Fodor’s Guides to Hong Kong and China, and has taught Chinese history at Brooklyn College. She now lives in Manhattan with her husband and two cats, with frequent escapes to the Hudson Valley. She has begun working on a collection of short stories in which her characters can often glimpse their own utopia but never get there.