Mandarin Chinese was my first and only spoken language. Until I went to nursery school at the age of 3 and discovered that I didn’t understand a word of what anyone else was saying. As the story goes, I came home that day and refused to speak Chinese ever again; brutally dashing my parents’s hopes of raising a bilingual child. Even with my rudimentary grasp of the language though, I have never forgotten how to say “xiè xie’ or “thank you”. It’s one of my favourite phrases in any language because I believe that saying “thank you” and showing our appreciation is fundamental to connecting with the human beings that we are.
Most things in life take a village, especially a creative endeavour like Under Plum Blossom. My sincere thanks to the following:
My brave, shadowy ancestors, who have left me with a rich history to unpick; I will get to know you better. My parents Mary and Yuan for their love and great sacrifice. My siblings Tim, Derek and Leslie for growing up with me. My husband Bill for putting up with me. My Hapa sons Will and Colm for pushing me to want to know more about our heritage. My wonderful female friends: Anojie, for our many many, identity seeking walks around and around Regents Park in the dead of winter. Atalanta, for your evergreen keen interest in who I am from the moment we first met fifteen years ago. Kristin, for your expansive creative spirit and guidance. Julie, for showing me how to transfer my architectural skills into writing. My Book Club because of your encouragement to speak about my family history in the context of the many books we have read together.
Huma Qureshi of Our Story Time, my brilliant writing coach and author of In Spite of Oceans: Migrant Voices for guiding me ever so gently but firmly toward writing my voice on these pages. Nat Hobson, my talented website designer whose technical virtuosity and willingness to entertain anything I suggested allowed me to realise my vision. Gabriela Degwitz for her delightful, whimsical portrait photos and dancing gif. Mouki Mou for the beautiful outfits, styled by the exacting Sungjin Ahn.
Big hugs and Duōxiè (Many thanks) to all of you.