The Garden of Empress Cassia is 20 years old today. It was my first novel and is still in print so it’s doing fairly well for its age. The story is loosely based on how I felt as a child not fitting in. It’s about a Chinese Australian girl who, due to racism is ashamed of her heritage but loves to paint and draw. It won the Aurealis Award and was published in the US, UK, Korea and South America. It wasn’t all plain sailing in the beginning as it was rejected by about 6 different publishers. But persistence in this case paid off. The book is dedicated to my children Lei Lei and Ren who have helped me with every one of my novels ever since they were in primary school. The antique painting is done on porcelain dating back to the Qing Dynasty. My mum gave it to me. I used it as reference for Empress Cassia. The last photo is of a sweet Empress Cassia from last week’s Book Week.