Tell me three fast facts about yourself.
I was born in Penang but now reside in Melbourne, Australia with my husband, my three children and their children.
I am a science educator. I like writing. I have had 8 titles in Biology and Environmental Science published with Longman Cheshire. I have also written educational articles for the Herald Sun newspaper from 1981 to 1986, and am now trying my hand at a different genre – fiction.
At present, I am doing volunteer teaching in Genetics at the University of the Third Age, an organisation that offers a wide range of courses for senior citizens.
How much of Second Chinese Daughter is fiction – and how much is fact based on personal experience?
I have relied entirely on memory to recall of life experiences to lend authenticity to my narrative. Naturally, there will be some parts that are now a blur to me. This is when I need to enmesh fiction to connect the factual parts. If I am to create a seamless narrative, the fictional parts have to be interwoven with the some factual elements. This is so that in the finished project becomes one story which the reader and even I as the author can no longer separate the two.
Q: Second Chinese Daughter is set in 1930s – 1960s. What prompted you to tell this story now?
I have always wanted to write about how it was in my grandmother’s and mother’s time so that I could compare what it was like for women then and now. But this is something that takes much time for thought and planning. When I was working full time and writing textbooks previously, I felt I would be too distracted and would not be able to do justice to the writing of fiction. Therefore, I have waited till now to write because firstly, I could focus entirely on writing my first novel; and secondly; choose to do it in this stage of my life when I have the luxury of time to enjoy writing.
Q: How prevalent is the traditional Chinese mind set in modern society?
I believe Chinese culture is an integral part of Chinese history and identity. Nowadays, cultural borders are disappearing. Cross-cultural experiences are a good thing but that doesn’t mean that people should forget where they came from or forget their own cultural identity. For this reason, it is important for us to record our cultural past as a reminder of heritage to subsequent generations. I have tried to do this in Second Chinese Daughter.
Q: What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading a light and entertaining fiction called Celebrant Sleuth by Hazel Edwards, about the adventurous experiences of a celebrant who officiates at weddings and funerals. When someone dies suddenly or the bride disappears before the wedding, the celebrant—who is the protagonist in the story—finds himself playing the sleuth and try to solve the mysteries so that he could go ahead with the ceremony.