After a long break, the blog is back! An inspiring fellow writer, Gillian Wallace, tagged me to take part in The Next Big Thing,, a literary blog interview. In The Next Big Thing, writers answer ten questions about their work-in-progress, then tag five of their writer friends to do the same.
What is the working title of your book?
The Third Road. It comes from a quotation from Mao Zedong: "All Chinese without exception must lean either to the side of socialism or to the side of imperialism. Sitting on the fence will not do, nor is there is a third road." But the main character of my novel, Zhao Ya Yin, seeks that third road.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
My uncle was a member of the British Special Branch police force in what was then called Malaya, in the 1950s and 60s, during the emergency there. In Malaya, he and his wife had servants and a fairly upscale kind of lifestyle. When they returned to England, they had to live in a drab council flat and he had to take a job as a nightime security guard. The contrast interested me, and I began to write about that, but after about one hundred pages, I realized it was not working. However, by this time, I had done a fair bit of research, and I was very interested in that historical timeframe. A young Chinese girl named Zhao surfaced as a character I wanted to write about, a girl who was uprooted by the British and who eventually became a Communist geurilla.
What genre does your book fall under?
It is a literary work, and historical fiction.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I am not all that up on Chinese actors, so that is a tough one. For the main British character, I think Kate Winslett would be perfect.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
After having survived both the Japanese occupation and the forcible relocation of her village by the British, a young Chinese girl joins the Communist geurillas fighting from inside the jungle.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I do have an agent and I hope that with her support we can find a traditional publisher.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I have been researching and working on this book for nearly five years.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill springs to mind, another tale of survival. Also, curiously, The Good Earth, by Pearl Buck, for the simplicity of style and the profound nature of the message.
Who or what inspired you to write the book?
As above, the experiences of my uncle, but ultimately, the personality of my main character, as well as my interest in the futility of war.
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
The 12 year "emergency" in Malaya, which was basically a war, is a little-known period of history. Documents are still being released today, revealing the truth some of the myths surrounding what happened there. In fact, a law suit by survivors has been in the news recently concerning allegations of a British massacre at Batang Kali during the emergency in Malaya. Apparently 24 innocent villagers were shot by British forces. So I guess the historical aspect, as well as interest in a female character who becomes a geurilla.
And now, visit these links to see what these wonderful writers are working on: (names and links to follow).