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Question 1: What inspired you to write this book?

It was a song titled ‘I Love You, China’. It’s a song I had not heard for more than twenty years when I was coming across it on my computer screen by chance on a lazy September afternoon of 2012, (or 2013). This beautiful song had the magic power that it effortlessly brought out a deep sense of pride to be Chinese and love of your motherland. I couldn’t stop listening to it. Motherland is a wonderful place in our heart and its pride and beauty are such that it elicits countlessly heroes and mass submissively bowing their devotion to its holy greatness, and we love it unconditionally, regardless of where you are, outside China or inside, whatever political views you may hold, you have a right and passion to love the motherland. The song ‘I Love You, China’ has united the Chinese around the world. 

Suddenly on hearing the song, it struck a chord and reminded me of the dramatic past of the late 1980s when I had worked in Haikou before I had come to the UK. A desire of bringing back the faded away memory to live in a literary recreation was welling up spontaneously. I had started to write my first fictional book titled ‘Sound of Ripples’ and completed it within 6 months, which must be rough writing. This book ‘The Song of Youth Part 1’ was a developed vision from that.

Question 2: Can you tell us about the book?

‘The Song of Youth. Part 1.’ is a story about life in the period while the Chinese economic reform was in fully swing in middle 1980s, and a part of that was a new Province of Hainan being setting-up, coming with a high degree of widely ranged economic preferential policies that allowing Hainan to utilise a unique conductive management style to do business in a way that it was unavailable in the rest of the mainland China. 

Its singular openness was like a fresh air blow across China, creating a sensational national movement of ‘Hainan Heating’ that attracts many companies as well as numberless young and ambitious graduates across China to go to Hainan to seek business opportunities, to pursue their dreams for a better life, and Kathy Liao was one of them.

It’s her life journey of ups and downs, both emotional and professional while participating in China’s great adventures in a thrilling way.

Question 3: What does the title mean?

I guess mainly implicating that a human's instinctive mind has its purpose and pattern powered by its innate value which is bound to be different from one another, and each writes its unique song of youth. This book is about how surging forward with momentum one individuals’ excitingly ups and downs life was when the unprecedented opportunity was given at the turning point of the transformation of China from Planned Economy to Market Economy, and how it bought the new model of two-way employment into practice and becomes reality, and how it had changed the old way of predictable life that moving according to the usual procedure in life journey to a wondrous adventure that brought to the individuals in a thrilling way.

Question 4: When did you first realise you want to be a writer?

When the inspiration was strong enough for me to drop everything else to bring a strong feeling to a tangible and pragmatic practice. And I just picked up the pin and started to write without being overcautious or indecisive because writing was something I had never done before. I am not sure if it said that unselfishness is fearlessness, or ignorance is fearlessness, or both. Books take a long-time to make, but once the writing begins, it becomes duty-bound and unstoppable. That was Autumn 2013, I am still wondering: had the idea deep in the subconscious to be a writer long before the realisation came to surface?

Question 5: Is writing your full-time career or, would you like to be?

I believe never say never, but ‘No’ is the answer for now. Once it becomes a case of writing for living, the pressure would outweigh the fun. I knew a classmate from the writing class a couple of years ago, who gave up his career as a lawyer to become a full-time writer. Four years on, he was still racking his brain in the unfinished manuscripts…I took my hat off to him but wouldn’t follow that path. But the fact is that I spend most of my leisured time writing, and I will write my next manuscript with enthusiasm in leisure and hope to be completed within a year. Writing has become part of my daily life. It is well said that writing is something I love, career or not. 

Question 6: How would you deal with the emotional impact on yourself  as you are writing the story?

Let it flow.

Question 7: Tell us about the process for coming up with the cover?

I had failed to find a suitable image or inspiration for the cover page after exhaustive searching online, I had to look elsewhere and nowhere was more convenient than my own photo-album. To my delight, I was told that, after I consulted a publishing company, using the author’s photo for the cover-page was not unlawful. The cover-page had to reflect the ‘Youth’ where the time of late 1980s the story had taken place, and it narrowed my selection. I had firstly tried some photos taken at the same time of the story while I was in Haikou, but these photos quality was too poor to be used. I then found one taken by a Sony camera in 1994 in London, a few years after the story had unfolded, and it was the only suitable photo still with a good quality to be on the cover page after more than twenty years, so that was that a decision was ready made by the photo’s good quality itself.

Question 8: What, in your opinion, is the most important element of good writing?

There are some elements that can't be omitted in good writing. The story itself, the significance of its theme; literary appeal, the writing style, and so on. For me, no matter how magnificent a story or subject of a theme may be, lack of punch or literary aesthetics, there will be no attraction to me in the first place, and the rest is irrelevant.

Question 9: How do you handle the writer's block?

Leave the table and get out of the house, do something else completely irrelevant, preferably strolling in a park or going shopping. Close the door and shut yourself up and ponder over or rack your brains with the sleepless nights are not my style.

Question 10: What is the key theme, or message in the book?

Human life embraces a wide range of rich meanings, not everyone comes across all of them, that is where the unique phenomenon comes from, through a highlighted unpredictability that brings the challenges and opportunity run neck and neck, advancing at equal pace. The question lies at the heart of the story is that life has its purpose with or without being realised, or understood, or acknowledged by us at the time. How to apply the wisdom and capability to deal with the unpredictability and turn the challenges into opportunity (with a dim or urgent sense of a career tragedy for the lead character along the way that the unfolding story has been successfully threatening to hint in this book) is a major test for one’s personal comprehensive quality.

Question 11: How do you hadle the literary criticism

Be open-minded and be expected, happy to meet them.

Question 12: Do you write while listening to music?

No, I don’t listen to anything when I am writing but focus on it, although I have loved listening to music ever since I was a kid.

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