I wanted to take my mind off the issues surrounding Black Lives Matter and my latest novel with Nancy Mudenyo Hunt – Not so Black and White. The arrival of the German translation of Brushstrokes in Time has done just that.- whisked me to a time when we could travel and an unforgettable trip to China!  Qu Leilei showed me this house in the Summer Palace  where his father  Qu Bo  used to work when he was in charge of railway rolling stock .( For railway fans- he gave an engine to the museum in York!)

Leilei and his family stayed in the Summer Palace cottage at the weekends until the Cultural Revolution sent their lives into turmoil.  At a difficult time, Leilei’s father started to write novels. ‘Tracks in the Snowy Forest’ is the most famous because Madame Mao made it into one of her Model Operas .  The house in the photograph with Qu Leilei and I inspired Little Winter’s weekend home in Brushstrokes in Time. A new film has been made  of his father’s novel so  a new generation will know about him. It was written in the fifties and I read the English translation  it reminded me of contemporary adventure books  male readers enjoyed . This video is about the film of  Qu Bo’s novel https://vimeo.com/248118859

This view links Brushstrokes in Time and Sculpting the Elephant . In STE the story is told of  Ashoka who spread Buddhism across Asia and was forgotten for over 1000 years. One hundred  yards from the house is the Fragrant Buddha Temple  . I took my nephew Max Harry on this trip. His mother is of Chinese ancestry but he had never been to China .

This view of the Fragrant Buddha Temple links Brushstrokes in Time and Sculpting the Elephant .


I enjoyed meeting Leilei’s amazing mother in one of the few lovely surviving hutongs in Beijing.