Monday, April 28, 2008


Vicki here on Monday.

I was going to write a long, moaning post about the nightmare I had crossing the border yesterday, where for some reason I was pounded by the U.S. authorities with questions like “How much are they paying you to attend this thing?” “Do you have a contract with the bookstore?” “Who’s paying you to go?” and “How much do you make as a writer?” They even phoned Mystery Lovers to question why I had been invited! I guess they were afraid that I am going to flood the United States with copies of my Poisoned Pen Press books thus ruining the U.S. publishing industry for good American publishers like... uh... Poisoned Pen Press.

But now that I’ve been tagged, I don’t have to. I will just write my tag post.
Okay. I’m currently staying at my brother’s place in Ottawa while waiting to move into my new house. My brother’s late wife, Carol Lem, was very interested in her Chinese heritage and has a good collection of Chinese-themed modern history and memoir. I picked up Red China Blues by Jan Wong, a well known Canadian journalist. Canadian-born of Chinese descent, Wong was one of the first Western students admitted to Beijing University. This was around the time of the Cultural Revolution. Wong enthusiastically leapt into the revolution. Red China Blues is a memoir of those years, and of her subsequent disillusionment with the revolution. (I’m guessing at the ending from what I know about Jan Wong because I’m not very far into the book.) Here goes from page 123 (earlier sentences were better as the students were on a binge, but in keeping with the rules of the tag this begins with sentence 6.)

To boost morale we sang revolutionary songs. Chinese literature majors, in charge of “propaganda”, stood by the side of the road performing rap-like comic dialogues to the rhythmic clack of bamboo clappers. Every two hours we stopped for a break.

Sounds just like how I raise my morale – I sing revolutionary songs. Perhaps I should have done that while cooling my heels in the interrogation waiting room at the U.S. border.

I am writing this in my hotel room in Pittsburgh where I’m off this afternoon to the Festival of Mystery, so I’m going to tag four wonderful authors who are also attending the festival: Julia Pommeroy (, R.J. Harlick (, Mary Jane Maffini ( and Rhys Bowen ( . Also Sharon Rowse ( who isn’t at the Festival but should be.

Looking over that list makes me think – isn’t it nice that we’re all writing at the start of the Internet age? We can just use our names as our web pages. Too bad about later Vicki Delanys or Rhys Bowens who will find that their URL has been taken.

Happy Reading!

No comments: