Chiung Yao (瓊瑤, born in Taiwan in 1938) is a romance novelist, possibly the most influential writer of this genre in the Chinese-speaking world.
After 1965, her works were adapted into films by studios in Hong Kong and Taiwan and the Chiung Yao fever soon swept over Sinophonic communities in Southeastern Asia, including Mainland China. Her works, rich in melodramatic plotlines, often explore relationships regarded as socially unacceptable. With stories taking place in living rooms, cafes, and discos, films based on her novels have been compared with white telephone cinema, a film genre popular in Italy during the fascist period. As of recently, film researchers started to appreciate the feminine voice and the theme of intergenerational conflicts in her works, especially protagonists disregarding social norms and traditions in pursuit of love.
While Hong Kong filmmakers post 70s focused on kung fu, gambling, softcore erotica, and mafia, with disproportionate interest in the depiction of violent brotherhood, Chiung Yao- inspired films undeniably stand out in the Sinophone cinema of that era. Her novels, songs and films based on her works have also helped establish Taiwan as the new cultural centre for Mandarin culture.
As her popularity in cinema decreased in the 80s, Chiung Yao moved to television and remained in favour of Sinophonic audiences, in Taiwan and beyond, for another three decades.