Chinese is fast becoming one of the most popular languages to learn in the world. Unfortunately, as languages go, it is a hard one to learn. Chinese comes from a completely different family of languages than English, and makes learning French, or German, or Spanish look easy by comparison.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Wales, UK, and always loved reading books. Some of my favourite reads as a child were Asterix, Tintin, Star Trek and Star Wars novels and Roald Dahl. When anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always say that I wanted to be an author. as I grew up and learned about publishing, I put this dream away, feeling that it would never be possible for me. but now, thanks to e-readers, Amazon, Smashwords and in particular the wonderful books written by Mark Coker, I am able to fulfill my dream at last!
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing in school, sometimes for school work and sometimes for myself. Poems, short stories and articles. My proudest moment was when my English teacher gave me an A+++ grade for a story I'd worked on all summer long!
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book, 1-Minute Chinese (Part 1) has been a big part of my life for the last two years. Ever since I came to China in 2003 I have wanted to learn Chinese and have worked hard at it. But although I made some slow, stumbling progress in speaking Chinese, reading and writing characters were something I never even dared to attempt. Too difficult, I thought, and hardly worth the trouble - I'd have to wait years before I was good enough to even read a newspaper! But this thought always nagged at me, and made me feel like a bit of a cheat.
And then one day the thought came to me: if Harry Lorayne (whose book on memory techniques I had read and loved) could learn words by mnemonics, why couldn't I use mnemonics to make Chinese characters easy to remember? And words! And those frustrating Chinese tones! And so 1-Minute Chinese was born, a title that I chose because I wanted to show how, with mnemonics, hours of boring study could be replaced by simply reading and remembering!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I would like to thank Smashwords very much indeed, for many reasons. It was Mark Coker's books which guided me through the process of writing, publishing and marketing my book, as well as offering lots of useful advice and encouragement. Thanks to Smashwords my book is now on sale at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks and many other places. And Smashwords also allows me to publish my book for free, this sharing the message of 1-Minute Chinese with the whole world!
Who are your favorite authors?
Robert Jordan, author of The Wheel of Time; Katherine Kerr, author of the Deverry books; Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld Novels; and Bill Bryson, a travel and history writer.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Juggling and balloon modelling (maybe another book there!); reading, websurfing and watching movies; spending time with my family.