© 2013 Clive Eaton
I was born July 23, 1950 in Namur, Belgium. I spent my childhood in Florenville, a charming village in the south of Belgium.
After a diverse educational background (others would call erratic!) I began studying civil engineering and then realized that it did not suit me at all, I studied Political Science and International Relations at the University of Brussels.
I love to travel which has led me to visit a significant part of our planet, favoring the discovery of other people and respect for local cultures. I had the opportunity to discover the United States, China, and most European countries, but also North Africa, a trip that remains almost as a nightmare for me.
In the Shadow of the Dragon - Part I: The Shadow
Dreams and Nightmares in China
Cosmos dreams of becoming a rock star! Every night in Beijing Nightclubs, he plays the music of the Eagles! He has a lot of friends in the small foreign community in Beijing. He meets Erwan a French journalist who lives an unhappy life after the Tian An Men event!
Cao Yu, a student at Beida dreams of a simple life with her boyfriend, Wang Jun a traffic policeman and Cosmos’ friend!
Mona, a Franco-Chinese undercover police agent in Beijing, will cause trouble in these well-regulated lives. Full of contradictions, she hates the Cultural Revolution and the ultra-left which took her father.
I worked in many sectors including rural development and education. Since 1996 I work in the social sector, mainly focusing on literacy for low level skilled people. For over ten years I develop European projects in this field.
I came late to writing, I should say to publish my writings because I feel I have always written. “In the Shadow of the Dragon” is my first novel. Others are in preparation, in particular a thriller that will feature some of the characters from "In the Shadow of the Dragon."
After ten years in Brittany, I currently live with my partner in Bordeaux.
Her unconditional loyalty to the Communist Party will get her to build up crazy scenarios that will disturb more than one life.
Love and betrayal, all will be involved in this infernal machinery!
This tragic story leads us into the recent history of China through the emergence of civil society, the lives of ordinary citizens, the paranoia of the security services and the disturbing shadow of the Falun Gong sect.
What do you do to relax when you are not writing?
I use to read and also to hike! Sometimes I watch movies, but it is rare because I think few films really interest me! I also love to cook and prepare all kinds of dishes inspired from different countries that I have visited! I hike less now but a few years ago I lived in Brittany, which is a fabulous place to walk. This led me to climb to the top of the Emei Mountain in China for my sixtieth birthday.
What, or who, inspired you to become a writer?
I think I had a lot of influences, also by the fact that I read a lot and all sorts of books, novels, short stories, thrillers, etc. A literary giant as Cormack McCarthy has certainly influenced me but I keep a certain admiration for Jan Morris and Hav, a wonderful novel. For years I have read tons of Science Fiction books! You have therefore understood that authors like Vanvogt, Asimov, Frank Herbert and Bradbury accompanied me for a long time ! A French writer is dear to my heart, however, it is Louis-Ferdinand Céline and his wonderful Journey to the end of the night! Other authors have kept me company all these years, as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. He is famous for Le Petit Prince but he is an author who has written in different genres! As I lived in China, I immersed myself in Chinese literature and I discovered the profound humanity of authors such Zhang Xianliang, Lu Xun and Laoshe to mention those that come directly to mind!
What or who inspired you to write your current novel?
I did not want to write a novel about China, but a novel that takes place in China! I started writing this book more than 20 years ago! Four years ago there was an incident which was a trigger to resume this writing. A Chinese friend of mine, a member of the Falun Gong was killed by the police on the eve of the Olympic Games! I have since resumed writing, and since I did not stop!
Tell us three interesting facts about your book which are not covered in the synopsis.
1) The events happening in the Laogai in Gansu
2) Some aspects a little magic
3) Introspection of some characters
What research did you need to do for this book?
Even if I had a good general knowledge of the Chinese context, I did a lot of research to determine the precise locations of the action because by the time my memory betrayed me somewhat! In this regard, the Internet is a fabulous tool! For example, I had to get accurate information about how the Laogai (Chinese Gulag) works and even if what I described is pure fiction, I would not be surprised that one day someone recognize his/her experience. To establish the camp in Lanzhou in Gansu Province I used Google Maps to locate the camp! It has existed but has been transformed into something else now. I also did some research on the Chinese criminal justice system, particularly the absence of judicial courts in some levels! The rest is creativity and my imagination!
Are any elements/characters of your book based on real life experiences or people you’ve met/known?
This is a difficult question! I am tempted to give what we call in French a Normand response: maybe yes, maybe no! I think that we create from what we know! I had this discussion with my children who thought I had written the story of our family when we lived in Beijing! In fact, not! The story is based on real people: I transformed their life and built up their behaviors which are fictitious! Most of the characters are pure creation! I can assure you that Erwan, this Breton reporter, he is not me! As for the character of Mona, she is a fictitious character who is a little evil sometimes! But it is true that it can be confusing for those who know me well!
Tell us a little about your current work-in-progress.
"In the Shadow of the Dragon" is finished! The first part called The Shadow has been published. Part 2, The Dragon and Part 3 In the Shadow of the Dragon will be published respectively next March and June. I am currently working on several things, several book projects! One is totally autobiographical, and I'm not sure I will finalize it! Another is related to my photographic escapades: there is a series of small books that will mingle photos and comments! But I am also preparing a thriller to be released in two years! I already have the title, the story and the characters as well as the places where it will happen! Some characters of In the Shadow of the Dragon are the main characters of this book! Readers will be delighted to find Mona and Erwan in situations that have nothing to do with my first novel!
What process did you adopt from inception through to the finished book?
I have a plan in my head but I rarely write it because I do not like to be tied (I'm basically individualistic)! Generally, I start to write on paper. I use Moleskine notebooks and as soon as it is launched, I continue on my computer! I write at night and usually I tell what I wrote to my wife. When it is finished, I re-read everything, I correct, and I use all the tools in my possession! I usually write in French, sometimes in English! For instance, last September I went to Transylvania and I have taken notes in English! It really depends on!
What do you need (or not need) around you whilst writing?
I work at my desk! An internet connection in order to feel connected to the rest of the world (it's silly but that's how!) Seriously, I need paper to take notes, my phone (s), my Kindle where I stored some of the information. I also need a teapot and a teacup!
What prompted you to self-publish your current book?
I looked for an easy and convenient way to be published! Publication on Kindle seemed obvious! I know how difficult it is to be published by a publisher! So I chose the hard way of independent authors who publish themselves!
What were the three biggest challenges you faced when writing your book?
1) Find the time
2) Persevere in writing
3) Dare to publish, dare to face the point of view of others
Every author seems to suffer with writer’s block at some point. How do you overcome it?
No, I never have trouble writing, just the opposite, but find the time is difficult because there are only 24 hours in a day and we also want to do so many things! I do not know what is called the syndrome of the blank page!
What single piece of advice would you give to any aspiring writer?
I would tell them to be persistent, resilient and believe in themselves, to write for them and not worry too much for the rest! And then read, read, read!
What genre does your book fall into?
I think In the Shadow of the Dragon is a psychological and political novel! The political context in which it is located is not unique to China! These are situations that can be encountered everywhere. From this point of view, this novel is universal!
How did you get interested in this specific genre?
I think it is my personality, my experiences, my life and my interests!
You as a reader
Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?
1) Cormack McCarthy because it made me dream with his trilogy of the border
2) Hav by Jan Morris because what she writes is so true
3) Céline shows us the darkness of the human soul, but I could add Conrad for the same reasons and again McCarthy in Blood Meridian.
What was your favourite book as a child?
I had a book called The Kind Bear! The story took place in a circus! It was written by a Belgian writer François Weyergans!
What is the best book you’ve read in the last 12 months?
It's hard to say because I read so much! I am tempted to say my own novel, but it is a bit presumptuous! I loved Millennium and The Hunger Games! In the political field, I found There is no such thing as Society by Andy McSmith absolutely breathtaking! I also read a lot of books by my fellow writers from the ASMSG circle of writers, for instance The Road from Morocco by Wafa Faith Hallam and The Pyramid Legacy by Clive Eaton, two books I appreciate a lot.
What was the last book you recommended to a friend, and why did you think it was worthy of recommendation?
Cormack McCarthy trilogy because I think it is an exceptional novel but Blood Meridian is a real slice of life! It is about worlds which have disappeared forever! I have just finished Sliding on a Snow Stone by Andy Szpuk, an astonishing story!
Kindle (or other e-reader) or paperback, and why?
Without hesitation Kindle! Why? Because when you love to read, you are regardless of the medium! More it seems to me an exceptional tool for the dissemination of written works! I think that reading makes you smarter, develops thinking and prevents human stupidity! The digital medium could allow the access to writing for the majority of the population and I consider it relevant! The book makes you think, dream, is a means of escape when life is too hard and puts us in relationship both with ourselves and with others
Hollywood is calling
You’ve had the call from Hollywood and they want your opinion on who should play the leading roles in the film based upon your book. Who would you choose, and why?
I would be surprised, but you never know! I would see Matt Damon in the role of Erwan and Christy Chung as Mona, Gérard Depardieu as Rochester and Marion Cotillard in the role of Cécile! For others it is difficult to say, but certainly Scarlett Johansson to play Sandra! The role of Cosmos will be difficult to fill and casting will be necessary
The film of your book is now going to need a soundtrack. Which musician(s) would you want to write and play it?
Without hesitation, Bono
Drink - Bordeaux Côtes de Blaye and Longjing tea
Meal - Chilli Tofu, fish, vegetables (I love cabbage)
Holiday destination - Central Europe and the Far East! I'd like to visit Russia!
TV programme - I hate TV but I watch it from time to time, mainly News, historical emissions and about nature!
Film - Casablanca
Method of travel - by car or on foot whenever possible!
Sports - running, walking, Taiji Qigong etc.
How can people connect with you?
Facebook: , ,
Where can readers find your book?
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