It was great visiting schools for Book Week. I always enjoy meeting my readers and all the students did some wonderful writing and drawing during the sessions. My new novel, A Ghost in My Suitcase is progressing well. I sent the second draft to my publishers on Monday which was a big improvement on the […]
Every now and then articles appear in the newspaper that are extra ordinary. I like these little stories. They break us out of our traditional ways of thinking. Strange things do happen in the world. Stories like these can also be used as inspiration for a novel but more importantly, they can change the way […]
A Stowaway’s Short Trip A thirteen year old boy wanted to see Iceland so he stowed away on a fishing trawler. Seventeen hours later the trawler moved to the next dock for repairs. The boy went home.
On Saturday 19th July, I am having a book launch for my Aussie Bite, THE LION DRUMMER at Book Bonding in Essendon and everyone is welcome. There will be a traditional lion dance, lollies, drinks and more. If you would like to come along please phone Bookbonding on 9370 4422 THE LION DRUMMER will have […]
Last night I went to see the Quanzhou puppets. They were fantastic! They have come from Fujian province in China with 2000 years of puppet history behind them and tell ancient folk tales and legends. There is the famous monkey Sun Wu Kung who does tricks while he rides a bicycle and much more. Each […]
Last night I was invited to meet the members of a Mothers and Daughters Book Club (MDBC) to discuss the book they had been reading for the month which was my latest novel, The Hidden Monastery. This book club is such a great idea that I want to pass it on to you. There were […]
My next door neighbour raised a Pekin duck from a tiny duckling. He got Ducky from a farm that breed ducks for eating. When the neighbour went away recently, Ducky seemed distressed making loud quacking sounds. I climbed the fence to investigate. I found Ducky trying to get out of a kids wading pool which […]
Occasionally in life, the interconnectedness of things is so obvious you can’t help but sit up and take notice. On Monday, there were four such ‘coincidences’ that took place. Four different books of mine converged on that day, all of them at different stages of their lives. 8.30am Little Paradise. After working for almost two […]
Perched up in the Rothbury, an Art Deco apartment building in the heart of Brisbane, I am working on Little Paradise, my new young adult novel. I’ve been lucky enough to have gained a month long Creative Time Fellowship with the May Gibbs Trust. I like Brissie – the weather, the river, the walks, the […]
When I was young I couldn’t speak or read Chinese, even though my parents were both Chinese. This was because they spoke different dialects so English was used at home. But when I left school, I became interested in Chinese philosophy, art and martial arts and that changed everything. I felt that the only way […]
Zhuangzi is my favourite philosopher. He lived in China in 256BC. My creature Peng from The Hidden Monastery is inspired by The Book of Zhuangzi. Here is a piece of his wisdom: The tit bird building its nest in the mighty forest, occupies but a single twig. The beaver quenches his thirst from the river […]
Recently I received from my publisher 6 copies of the Korean edition of The Garden of Empress Cassia. I was thrilled not only because my book could be read by Korean children but because there are colour illustrations throughout and they are so gorgeous. When I get organised I will put up some samples on […]
I am almost at the end of my first Young Adult novel, Little Paradise. And what a relief it is. 🙂 When I say, ‘almost at the end’ I really mean the end of the first draft. What’s left to do now is a heap of refining where I go over every paragraph, every line […]
The cover of my new Aussie Bite, The Lion Drummer has just come through via email. It looks great and is illustrated by Andrew McLean. The book will be out in July. The story was inspired by my niece, Louisa, who is training to be a lion dancer. It was also inspired by the big […]
Welcome to the Year of the Rat! It’s meant to be a good year because the Rat is the very first animal of the twelve animal signs in the Chinese Horoscope, and it is also the beginning of a new 60 year cycle. So a completely new cycle is about to start tomorrow. Cycles are […]
I never realised how second nature texting was for young people until my daughter, who sometimes sleepwalks, sent me a text msg completely written in her sleep on Christmas Eve at 2.15am. This is what it said: Merry Christmas! Im out right now. i have the dog i will bring her home. X It sounds […]
As an ambassador for the Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge, it was great to meet with the winning schools last Friday in the National Gallery’s Great Hall. So many enthusiastic readers! Make sure you meet the challenge in your state next year. Good luck!
A book’s title is very important so I always take great care with my own novels. It’s one of the big decisions I have to make when writing. The ‘working title’ is the title you use when you’re not completely sure what you are going to call your book and you are still working on […]
I have just received first pages for my new Aussie Bite, The Lion Drummer. It’s always exciting getting these from the publisher because for the first time you see your manuscript looking like the real thing. Before a book is published there are three sets of pages – first pages, second pages and third pages. […]
When you live in a city for as long as I have, you become so used to it, you are incapable of seeing it – I mean REALLY seeing it – anymore. For a writer, this is a terrible thing. The best cure then is to go away for a while – six months at […]
The following news item presents an interesting dilemma A donkey in an Algerian market ate the money of the man who came to buy him. When the buyer and the seller were bargaining the price of the donkey, they didn’t see it eating the stack of bank notes meant as its payment. So who now […]
As you can see, Peng from The Hidden Monastery now welcomes you into my website. You might notice also that I have added a Spanish page. This is because I receive emails from children in South America who have read The Garden of Empress Cassia (translated into Spanish of course). This page includes a biography […]
I just received an advanced copy of When We Were Young. This is a book of short stories and cartoons by authors such as Leigh Hobbs, Sonya Hartnett, Ursula Duborsarsky, David Metzenthen, Paul Jennings and many many more including myself. All the stories are true and about something that happened in our childhood. The story […]
I had a wonderful time visiting schools in the Cairns area in Northern Queensland. I drove along roads lined with fields of sugar cane, their grainy heads waving to passersby. Clouds of white smoke billowed from the cane mills in the distance. The first school I visited was Babinda, a tiny school set in amongst […]


Jul 22: Booktalk
I’m off to Cairns tomorrow to visit schools in the area and to hold writing workshops in the Cairns Library. I’m really looking forward to meeting the students at Babinda, Gordonvale, Caravonica, Trinity Beach, Yorkey’s knob (such a fantastic name for a school) and White Rock. I love this area of Australia and it is […]
Have you ever been thinking of someone, then hey presto they ring you? Or every time you look at a digital clock the time is exactly 11.11 or 1.11 or 2.22 or 3.33 or 4.44 or 5.55, and often all within one day? Is it mental telepathy, tapping into another dimension, gremlins playing with your […]
I have just received word that The Garden of Empress Cassia will be published in Korea. It has already been published in England and Spain. Each of the covers for these two editions have been different to the Australian version so it will be interesting to see what Korea does with the book. At the […]
It is those who have compassion for all life who will best safeguard the life of man. Those who become aroused only when man is endangered become aroused too late. – Edwin Way Teale, naturalist
When I first went to live in Taiwan to study Chinese, I met a local girl called Peggy. She was around the same age, about twenty-two, with a wide, generous smile. I liked her very much. One day, her parents invited me home for dinner. It was her birthday. I spent the whole day looking […]
In some countries, animals are used to predict earthquakes. In south central China, there is a 24 hour watch on snakes in farms. If the snakes begin making desperate attempts to escape, the observers notify the government.
The first draft of my latest novel, A Ghost in My Suitcase is almost complete. Only one more chapter to go. I’ll work on that today. The next stage is refining, editing, chopping, making sentences sound more beautiful. This is the stage I like the most. My secondary character, Ting Ting, who I just recently […]
Some highlights of my Christmas day were, -watching my 82 year old mum boxing the daylights out of her opponent on Wii, -receiving Shaun Tan’s beautiful illustrated book, The Arrival, from my pets, -listening to Eva Cassidy’s music, her CD IMAGINE, a gift from my children, -a Kris Kringle present – a donation to TEARAustralia […]
When I write my stories, I see complete scenes in my mind just as if I’m watching a movie. As far back as I can remember I have been able to see whole pictures and always thought that everyone had the same ability or at least could visualise very easily. Training your mind to visualise […]
It’s early morning.The magpies are warbling but it’s still dark outside. I was kept awake by ideas for stories so I had to get up to write them down. Night time seems to feed my mind with thoughts. Maybe it’s because everyone’s dreams have escaped and are flying around free. Maybe that’s what dreams are […]
I have just come back from China researching a sequel to The Hidden Monastery. I was in the far west in Yunnan province 3,700 meters above sea level in a town that has been renamed Shangrila. Even climbing up steps was hard work because oxygen at that height is limited. When you suffer from altitude […]