Please welcome my guest and fine writer, Junying Kirk.
Junying Kirk completes her ‘Journey to the West’ trilogy with this inter-racial saga. A complex love story is interwoven through a tale of international crime, broken dreams, human trafficking and sexual exploitation. ‘Journey’ is just that, a merciless trek from the coast of Southern China to the drug farms in the heart of England, exposing worlds you never would have imagined existed.
Author Bio: Junying Kirk grew up in the turbulent times of the Cultural Revolution. A British Council scholarship led her to study English Language Teaching at Warwick University in 1988, followed by further postgraduate degrees at Glasgow and Leeds. She has worked as an academic, administrator, researcher, teacher and cultural consultant. When she is not traveling to Courts & Police stations as a professional interpreter, she loves spending her time reading & writing books, and traveling the world. Her ‘Journey to the West’ trilogy, ‘The Same Moon’, ‘Trials of Life’ and ‘Land of Hope’ have all been published on Amazon Kindle. She lives in Birmingham, UK with her English husband.
From the the Middle Kingdom to the Land of Hope – My Modern “Journey to the West”, by Junying Kirk
I am extremely grateful to Jim, for giving me a space on his awesome blog site and allowing me to talk about the loves of my life: books and writing, and how a personal journey across two different continents has given me the motivation, and heart and soul to write stories.
Born and bred a spice girl from Sichuan Province, located in Southwestern China, I lived in the interior of the Middle Kingdom from the 1960s to the 1980s, times when a great deal of dramatic and fundamental changes swept across the most populated country on earth, politically, economically and socially, with some more significant than others. After university, I got a job as a lecturer in English and did everything I was expected to do. Then in my mid-20s, my life was changed, transformed by a single most significant event – I uprooted myself and migrated to Europe. Consequently I’ve spent the second half of my life (so far) in the UK, the once all powerful imperialist state, much hated by the Chinese people. (Many of my experiences detailed above inspired my debut The Same Moon).
In China, and perhaps many other parts of the world too, there have been a lot of misconceptions about the West, largely because not everyone can actually travel freely and experience first hand what it is like to be living in a different culture, to interact with people who look and think differently. In my humble opinion, some of the misunderstandings about the West are derived from the biased propaganda of the government and highly controlled media, and hence limited knowledge of what is beyond the Great Wall of China. The same also applies the reverse situation – lack of real understanding of what China is about, not necessarily caused by government control, but a host of other reasons, including biased media reports, limited exposure of other cultures and lack of education of the general public.
Through my books, I want to show life both in China and outside its borders in the wider world, highlighting the cultural differences between the East and West, at the same time demonstrating what people, no matter where we come from and what we believe in, there are universal truths and shared characteristics. Fundamental similarities between us human beings exist as well as great differences and even huge barriers to cross in reaching mutual understanding and appreciation.
During my ten-year long western education and research in cultural studies, I was able to develop a more open mind, more analytical and critical skills, which I think have been instrumental in my outlook and writing. People say that each of us has a story to tell, and I agree. In my case, I have more than one, so my very first attempt as an Indie author has produced a trilogy, titled “Journey to the West”. Although fictional, they are based on true events, and the lives of ordinary people. There is, undeniably, an attempt to demonstrate how our culture, history, government policies and political systems impact on our lives.
The Same Moon, chronicles the life of our protagonist, Pearl Zhang, from a young girl growing to womanhood, first in turbulent times Under the Chinese Skies, and then adapting to a new life in the British Isles. It is tale of heartache, pain, suffering, happiness and joy. In Trials of Life, Pearl continues her quest in the West, confronting more trials and tribulations: clashes of culture, sexual harassment, bullying, and most importantly falling in love and making an alien land her ‘home’.
In the past decade, from my most recent career as a professional interpreter for the British Justice System, combined with my healthy ‘obsession’ with reading crime stories, especially that of the Scandinavian Noir variety (You probably have guessed that’s how I’ve met Jim, my kind host today), I have injected a fair amount of crime thriller elements into my latest book, a much darker, deeper, and explosive finale to the trilogy.
On the 28th September 2012, Land of Hope was published on Amazon Kindle, and here is a teaser: Every year, millions of illegal immigrants cross borders in search of wealth, happiness and a life of ease in the Land of Hope. Some succeed. Others suffer unimaginable hardships.
When Jack Gordon, Inspector in the SCS (Serious Crime Squad) hires Pearl Zhang, a professional Chinese interpreter, they join forces to fight injustice in the corrupt underworld of international crime, human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Pearl is the voice of broken dreams, translating raw, deranged, and colorful tales of those who cannot speak for themselves. As Pearl gets more and more tangled in the lives of strangers, Jack becomes a welcome diversion, complicated by the fact that both are married. Their trans-continental roller-coaster ride derails when Pearl tumbles into the sinister world of her clients, a world full of secrets, lies, and unspeakable violence – only this time, it’s directed at her.
Can she depend on Jack? Find out in this third and final book of Junying Kirk’s “Journey to the West” trilogy.
For your reference, I include an early review by Author Madeline Sloane:
“Land of Hope” is a layered tale told with finesse. It’s also a story of love left behind in the quest for success. Author Junying Kirk has the expertise and the experience to understand and explain the quandary of the Chinese immigrant living illegally in the U.K. Her characters are gripping; their lives are fascinating; their fates are poignant, and Kirk is bold enough to look behind the veil of official assurances and false smiles, and reveal the cultural divide: “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” The book will intrigue and haunt you as you discover what millions of people are willing to do to live in the “Land of Hope.”