Review of my short story “Saturnine In Her Head Out of Time” at the 2:26 mark 🙂
Thanks to Christina de Vries!
In which I read an excerpt from my novel South China Morning Blues (Blacksmith Books, 2015) at the Dream United event in Guangzhou, China
Here’s a video of me participating in the Shenzhen Stories event, in which local storytellers tell touching stories of personal experiences. I was invited, and yes I was a bit nervous. The theme was unluckiness (being Friday the 13th and all), and my only idea was to talk about the everyday minor frustrations of my silly little indie comics instead of the usual trauma.
The event was excellent, with heartfelt performers expressing their personal stories. It wasn’t easy for me to keep up with that. Also, now that there’s a video I am again reminded of my annoying voice.
To my surprise, the projector didn’t work and yet it went over well! They seemed to like my comics stylings. Please listen in on the talk and the laughs, and judge for yourself:
Last week on a Sunday afternoon I participated in an event in which writers based in Shenzhen can read their works aloud. It was part of the Shenzhen Book Exchange, which is an interesting sort of amateur library that English-language readers put together to promote reading and finding books while abroad. I’ve borrowed a lot of books from there, and donated a few myself.
While at it, I decided to print some of my one-page comics and share them as little books. That went over pretty well. (They don’t work very read aloud but great to give away.) Now six pages long. The working title of this slowly-growing anthology is “A Random Assortment of Cautionary Tales.”
I am somewhat afraid that I’m not very good at reading. The audience seemed attentive, but maybe I read too fast. Ah well, I’m not quite an actor but I hope the words are interesting.
Reading from my new story THIS MODERN LOVE:
As much as the point was to share my works, it was also much fun to organize the event in that I found new writers in Shenzhen to work with as well as help to edit for translations. While I’ve read at the book exchange before, and I had a ‘Shenzhen Writers Night’ earlier in the year, this was the first time putting those two in particular together and I think it was a good forum for the city’s literary scene. I’m lucky to have come across these great authors, both established Chinese and (such as me) aspiring American. Here they are with links to their works below:
Xie Hong is the Chinese author of 14 books, and he also writes in English. He studied in New Zealand in the English department of the Waikato Institute of Technology. Xie has won the Shenzhen Youth Literature Award as well as the Guangdong New Writer Award and New York Award. He will share some of his experiences in writing, and read poems or excerpts of short stories. He read from his poem collection The Story of Time, and the short story Casino.
Greta Bilek is a self-published travel writer and author of the book China Tea Leaves. Writing about travel in China, she finds inspiration in ancient poems, historic travelogues, stories told by Chinese friends and more. This is her second time presenting at the Book Exchange, sharing reflection from the road and experiences of taking on layers of cultural traditions as an expat.
Tiga Tan is the scriptwriter and novelist. She has written more than 300 episodes of TV series for Shenzhen’s children’s channel and the animated series Fuwa for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She is author of “G.O.D.I.S.E.T” a science fiction novel. She read from her short fairy tale “So Long, Aga.”
Nicole A. Schmidt is a published author, poet, educator and editor. She shared poetry, creative non-fiction and art she has created while in China. She is the author of Inside a Young Soul, and runs NAS Writes as an editing platform.
I hope you will take the time to look up these writers and learn more about their brilliant works! I’m honored to have had the chance to share the creative side of Shenzhen.
I’m looking forward to the next event already…
A few weeks ago I participated in a nice little talk show in Shenzhen to promote my novel, and riff about writing and creativity. I posted some info here: Annie Talk Show
Unfortunately I only had a link to the QQ video at the time, which wouldn’t embed. I am now pleased to share that I have since uploaded it to my seldom-used YouTube page and that’s much easier for view non-Chinese Internet viewing.
I’m afraid it may not be my best presentation of myself, but I’m always pleased if anyone would like to watch…
As detailed in my last blog post, I recently went to the Dream Community in Taipei, Taiwan.
And here is a short video showing a bit of the process which takes places in the glass-blowing studio:
What a week!
I was lucky enough to be a part of the Bookworm Literary Festival, both in Beijing on March 14th and Chengdu on the 19th, and what a week it was. I got to share my novel South China Morning Blues and represent Southern China to a whole other side of the expat scene in this big country.
First, I decided to take an express train from Shenzhen to Beijing. It took a reasonable eleven hours, still with no no ears popping it’s preferable to flying, and with the sleeper bunk overnight it was nice. I do recommend the express trains one-way. When I arrived in Beijing on Sunday morning, it was cold!
Good thing I packed warm clothes. Four days scheduled in Beijing, I then set out to explore. Staying nearby Bookworm in the Sanlitun area, I went to several panels at the literary festival, including one about pregnancy abroad featuring Ruth from ChinaElevatorStories.com.
The obvious tourism thing to do was to visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. I got some good photos, but mostly the experience was more about seeing all that security than it was seeing the major BJ sites. Due to the big government meetings currently of course. Seriously, the situation was insane. The padding, the lines on the streets. I must have had my bag x-rayed a dozen times; it was glowing green by the end of the day.
I do recommend going to the 798 arts district, though it may not be what it once was. The exhibition at the UCCA was particularly interesting, and I will write about that in detail later.
My talk on Monday went very well. I read a favorite scene, had an excellent conversation about blogging with Adam Robbins of CityWeekend.com, and the questions from the audience were very thought-provoking. And I am happy to say that my book is now officially stocked at the premiere bookstore in Beijing.
My flight to Chengdu on Thursday went smoothly. The Bookworm was even kind enough to send a representative to pick me up! I also met my lovely girlfriend there — who could only get a three-day weekend off, and it was all timed well in that she was flying from Shenzhen.
Together, we had a great time in Chengdu. We enjoyed the hotel and went to various famous spots such as Kuanzhai Alley, Song Xian Qiao antique street, and Jinli. The food was absolutely wonderful. Don’t get me wrong, Beijing is worth visiting, but it can get a bit grey and looming and just overwhelming in scope. Chengdu was incredibly welcoming and reminded me what I have always loved about China travel all over again.
My talk on Saturday was fun. In fact, girlfriend was nice enough to record much of it so you can watch below. Yes I know I say “um” too much, but I do like to think I am improving at expressing myself somewhat at these sorts of things.
I would also like to add that it was a pleasure to meet and hang out with renowned Irish author Eimear McBride — she of A Girl is a Half-formed Thing fame. Her talk was powerful and full of literary inspiration. Bought a book, got it signed, and will definitely read soon. The world needs more books like that, and authors like her.
I was sad to leave Chengdu on Sunday, but it was time to go home and resume my normal life down in the humid tropics. Phew. Well, that was the most intensive book tour week I have had so far in my career. I will be forever grateful to the good people at Bookworm (and one day I must go to the other location in Suzhou), yet at the same time I feel relieved to be back home to plan the next stage of events…
Last weekend, I was honored to have been invited to the Letters From China bilingual poetry event in Guangzhou courtesy of GZ-based poet Aaron Styza. It was at Yi-Gather, one of my favorite places in the city, and the turnout and conversation were excellent. I, of course, read from my novel South China Morning Blues.
Unfortunately, it was one of the coldest nights of the year and the place doesn’t have heating! This happens when living in the tropical southern regions; all year you’re sweating and you never know what week is going to be actually cold… and you are not at all prepared for it. Seriously, even though it doesn’t get below freezing (and I did grow up in a place with four seasons), the combination of humidity and winds makes for some very harsh conditions.
The next day, something magical happened that made the weather more than worth it! It actually SNOWED. It was about two or three degrees Celsius and by some miracle small pellets of frozen water (maybe technically hail, but looked enough like snow) softly fell to the ground and immediately melted. Brief and ephemeral, we couldn’t believe our eyes. Not that it was a polar vortex like elsewhere, but in the context of this tropical environment it was amazing. Sadly, wasn’t really photographable.
I heard it’s the first time the weather had been this low in the region in some fifty-sixty years. And, a month ago was the warmest year’s winter ever. Not going to get into climate change or anything, just sayin these temperature extremes are interesting.
Anyway, here is an Instagram picture followed by Youtube video concerning the event:
[Yes I know I do not look good nor sound good but the self is an eternal process and I shall work on it]
In light of so much interesting content last week, I have decided to combine an update of my book promotions with Chinglish, as well as a video below. Hope this makes for a doubly entertaining read.
Last weekend we went to Guangzhou, and enjoyed Yuexiu Park. Though there was lots of uphill walking, it’s nice to see pagodas and the beautiful nature settings. Paddleboating was most fun indeed.
And so many Chinglish signs. Glad to see that they haven’t changed the place in years 🙂
Later, it was a treat to discover this awesomely named dim sum restaurant. Delicious and PRO!!!
Finally, Saturday night I came to read ma’ book at the awesome Open Mic event at one dimly-lit hip art bar Loft345…
Always nervous to do these sorts of things, it’s even worse to record and hear myself. Do I really sound like that? Well, I did my best and that’s all that can be done; seems to work out most of the time.
Been busy lately.
Firstly, thanks to everyone who came to the excellent panel at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival! I was honored to be a part of the event, and add to the conversation on ‘Cross-Cultural Love’.
Anyway, I dare say I think it went well. The audience seemed to enjoy hearing what we had to say, and I actually think it was a success. It was an interesting talk, most of all due to all those other excellent writers to meet.
As well as the moderator David Nunan, it was great to meet the very intelligent Marshall Moore. Nice to see Shannon Young and Susan Blumberg-Kason once again.
The event was at the intriguing building known as the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences, and I shall share via Shannon’s Instagram account here:
While at it, here’s Susan’s Instagram. Feel free to like and follow!
There I am. And now, back to my new pic-sharing blogging strategy of just sharing previous uploads from the app. Readers rest assured you are enjoying the best of these…
Hi all. I’ve been back from South Africa for several days, and busy with getting my China life back on track.
There are also some great new developments with the book and I will happily share soon enough…
Please be patient on my South Africa blog post updates. I have a lot to write about. (Coming up in two parts.) Currently drafting!
For now, enjoy this very short video I made about seeing monkeys at the Kruger Park campsite:
Recently, an acquaintance online pointed out this old video from the year 2007. They were to delete that YouTube page, so I decided to save it on my own seldom-used channel and now post a blog in my seldom-used Vids category. (Do feel free to click on “Vids” to see a few more)
This one from back in my student film days in Southern California; I must have volunteered to act in someone’s short film. I can’t even remember the details. Anyway, here is a random blast from the past as it were. Short, cheesey music, with me as a young man.
Presenting: “The Connection”
What do you think? Should I get back into acting?! Should I at least make some new videos to share on occasion…?
Last week I went to see the Occupy Central democracy protests in Admiralty, Hong Kong. Students had camped out in front of the government offices, and took over roads in order to express their frustration with authority and demand change. The movement was still going strong, after violent actions from police had the opposite intended affect and renewed the people’s motivation and strength. Sadly, since then there has been yet more brutality and there is even more healing to do. At this rate Occupy isn’t going anywhere…
At the time, the scale of the scene astounded and humbled me. I have already posted some pictures, but I think moving-pictures footage can best communicate what is happening there. Allow me to share my video:
Birthday video 2010, my life circa that era
Dating in China, Hooking Up in China, when does it become Having a Stable Girlfriend in China?
After much patience, it became.
I think I have a pretty nice story of how I met Zoey, as these things go. An average workday, I took an early-morning bus, sat next to her, and started reading my paperback of The Great Gatsby. Not my favorite novel, though I enjoyed the recent film, it was only a paperback I picked up because you can get classic novels in English cheap at local bookstores. It even had the Chinese name, 了不起的盖茨比. She saw it, and started asking me about the book. Cool! I’ll keep in touch with this chick. We discussed the Chinese title and how 了 throws me off because it can pronounced either ‘le’ or ‘liǎo’
We exchanged phone numbers. Later she told me that I looked so young, and she thought I was a college student. I don’t know if she took me seriously as a partner yet. In any case, she was more than willing to correspond with me and it was a start.
I wish I could say I approached her and it was love at first sight or something. I have a vague memory of trying to sit next to a good-looking girl on the bus – because don’t we all do that at times, just a harmless split-second preference – but I don’t usually try talking to every pretty girl I see, at least not without psyching myself up first. Besides, on cold approaches I wouldn’t even know if she speaks English or not. So, it’s a bit passive that she talked to me first, but I think I did well in talking to her back.
I didn’t know at the time that this girl would become one of the main women of my life, one of my deepest relationships. I didn’t know that I would stay with her all year and beyond.
Zoey was great. Very outgoing, very positive, not the shy type at all. Cantonese. Slim body type. Big smile. She changed her hair often. She had permed black hair when I first met her, then dyed it auburn, then straightened it, then cut it short and curled it. She was fashionable, not in the pricey wannabe way but in humble off-brand Chinese expressive sort, my kind of style.
She wasn’t very worldly. I know that she has since traveled abroad (I think she’s already emigrated, more on that later), but at this period she was fresh out of college working a trite office job and hadn’t been to Hong Kong yet. She was decent at English and we could communicate, but she wasn’t the super-fluent type. When I’d be distant and we would fight, she’d revert to Mandarin or Cantonese or even Hakka if she was really mad. We watched many movies together and I introduced her to a lot of my native pop culture. She was very open to learning more. She was a sweetheart, a perfect companion, exactly who I needed then and I didn’t even know it.