About the Book
Pearl Zhang was born in Sichuan Province in China, and grew up during the Cultural Revolution. She was raised in a typically Chinese manner, went to school, got a job, got married, and her whole life path was mapped out, or so it seemed. Then she seized the opportunity to study in the United Kingdom – and stayed. How did she adjust to the Western way of life, and what did she have to do to overcome the barriers? Would she find happiness and fulfilment with her English suitor in Scotland, or would her heartache continue? She was in a new world, both foreign and exciting – under the Same Moon.
This book, the first of Junying Kirk’s “Journey to the West” Trilogy, will take you on a journey full of surprises and discoveries, from the East to the West, from the Middle Kingdom to the United Kingdom.
Junying was kind enough to answer some questions about herself and her book.
Me: Junying, tell us about yourself. How did you get into writing?
Junying: I was born at a time when China was in a great deal of political turmoil, as well as economic deprivation. When I started school, it was at the height of the Cultural Revolution, so formal education was often disrupted. However, I had a natural thirst for learning and knowledge, and I particularly enjoyed reading stories and writing compositions, even at a young age. I did excel in Chinese language, and would read whatever I could find, especially fiction, even at the risk of being caught and disciplined.
I was lucky to eventually go to university and English was my major. I can’t explain why exactly but I seemed to love everything associated being English and foreign. I started writing dairies at university and even attempted to write a short story once. The story I penned was about a young girl having a crush towards a boy. Because of the strict rule which forbade any romantic liaison between two sexes, my story never saw the light of the day, but I guess my desire to write was born.
Me: How did you come up with the story for The Same Moon?
Junying: The idea to write a book has been with me for a very long time, but it is hard for me to pinpoint one particular time when I came up with the story. I think coming from a country like China in the East and then having landed in a foreign country like UK came as quite a culture shock for me. In dealing with it, I started a process of self-discovery, as well as a profound learning curve, not just about myself, but also about the world we live in. I wrote a couple of short stories in Chinese which have been published in literary magazines and journals. Then one day I just sat down in front of my PC and started typing away. Having just finished my PhD in Cultural Studies and Education, I did not know if I would have to go back to China or I could stay on. I stayed and started writing the first part of my book, Under Chinese Skies. It was an attempt to record that part of Chinese history, through the eyes of an ordinary young girl. Her story would reflect that of many Chinese people, growing up, falling in love, her futile efforts to fight for her right to choose her love, the expectations of the society, and pressures of everyday life, and so on and so forth. There is some underlying universal truth in her struggle.
Me: How long did it take you to write it?
Junying: The Same Moon has not been an easy book to write, as it covers several decades in Pearl Zhang’s life, as well as a certain amount of deeply upsetting personal experiences and heartaches, set in both China and the UK. On and off, it took me a few years to complete the manuscript, but in terms of solid writing time, it would have been at least a year. I can seriously claim that it is a labour of love.
Me: Are you working on any new projects?
Junying: Before I finished The Same Moon, I actually started and finished another book, Trials of Life, which eventually became the second of my trilogy “Journey to the West”. Right now, I am working on my third and final novel of this trilogy.
I have built my own blogsite a few months ago and I now regularly update it with different writings, like travel logs, book reviews and various aspects of modern life. It is something I really enjoy doing.
My current W.I.P will be slightly different from my first two books, in terms of writing style and storyline. Although there is a central character, Pearl, who is the link in all three, they are all independent of one another, so readers do not have to read all of them or in sequence to enjoy them.
Me: Where can we get your book?
Junying: Currently my books are only in e-form and can be found on Amazon Kindle and Smashwords. Here are the Links to my books: The Same Moon (Book 1 of Trilogy “Journey to the West”)’ and the sequel, Trials of Life. Or go to Amazon UK Kindle, or go to Amazon USA; Both novels are also available on Smashwords.