SusanBarker_Credit Derek Anson (small)So, a self-interview… this is odd isn’t it?

Very.

 

Well, let’s start at the beginning. What’s your novel about?

A taxi driver in Beijing, who finds a letter from an anonymous sender in his cab, informing him that he’s had several past lives.

 

Past lives? Like, reincarnation?

Yes, the letter writer claims that the taxi driver, Wang Jun, has lived before as:

1. A eunuch during the Tang dynasty.

2. A slave during the invasion of Genghis Khan

3. A concubine of the Emperor Jiajing during the Ming dynasty

4. A fisherboy during the Opium War

5. A student during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution

The letter writer then sends the taxi driver more letters – stories about these turbulent past lives.

9781501106781Chapter 1

The First Letter

 

Every night I wake from dreaming. Memory squeezing the trigger of my heart and blood surging through my veins.

The dreams go into a journal. Cold sweat on my skin, adrenaline in my blood, I illuminate my cement room with the 40-watt bulb hanging overhead and, huddled under blankets, flip open my notebook and spill ink across the feint-ruled page. Capturing the ephemera of dreams, before they fade from memory.

I dream of teenage girls, parading the Ox Demons and Snake Ghosts around the running tracks behind our school. I dream of the tall dunce hats on our former teachers’ ink-smeared heads, the placards around their necks. Down with Headteacher Yang! Down with Black Gangster Zhao! I dream of Teacher Wu obeying our orders to slap Headteacher Yang, to the riotous cheers of the mob.