Reflections On China
I am #8 on the Best Seller List for children's books in China
I’ve just returned from a really extraordinary trip to China where I visited schools in both Beijing and Shanghai and attended the Shanghai Book Fair. Apparently my books are really popular there with Wolves of the Beyond climbing to the number eight position on the children’s bestseller list and Horses of the Dawn quickly building in sales. So I asked myself why is this happening? I think it has something to do with animal fantasy literature’s ability to cross cultural boundaries.
Fashion in clothing, food none of that really matters. Horses graze and eat grass. Wolves hunt and bring down meat. Owls fly and prey on rodents. No one needs to know the taste of American apple pie or Chinese dumplings to read my books.
Animals also afford me a poetic distance in which I can write about emotions—often human emotions but they are wrapped in the pelt of a wolf or the plumage of an owl. At the same time I have always done a ton of research about an animal and its natural history—its behavior and biology. So despite the fact that I write animal fantasy I think I can begin to make young readers believe – to say to themselves, “Well, this might be a story, might be a fantasy but I want to try and imagine it.
In short if I am successful I can bring a reader to that point called ‘the willing suspension of disbelief’ when something impossible seems possible. For those hours that a reader spends with my book they can enter another world no matter what world they are coming from whether it is Beijing China or Keokuk, Iowa.
It has been said that fiction is the lie that tells the truth. There are deep truths I feel in all my books even though I create a fantasy world in which animals can speak. And I am so thrilled that I have been able to connect with these young Chinese readers.
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