Category Archives: Reviews

ODD features of Mega million me.

Check out he link & be sure to visit other tabs as well 🙂!/2013/01/butterfly-by-julie-oyang.html

Don’t be so quick to run, RABBIT, you are not finished with me yet. Here’s the plan.

Go to  Amazon or Barnes & Noble and order your print copy.

Butterfly, a novel by Julie O’Yang is also available in all eBook formats, including iPad, Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker & Taylor, eBookPie


eSentral, the biggest eBook retailer in Southeast Asia, with stores in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, and more countries in the region.

This is me >>>

Julie O’Yang is novelist and visual artist based in The Netherlands.
Born and brought up in China, Julie O’Yang came to Europe in 1990s to study at the University of London. Then she read Japanese Language and Culture at the University of Leiden, Holland, and Tokyo, Japan. Her fiction, short fiction, poetry and articles have appeared in publications worldwide.

She is nominated for 2012 Micro Awards.

Personally I would like to see “Micro” turning into “Mega million”. So see, you are not finished with me yet.

Have a good weekend!


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This town was built on nepotism, the old boy network. Because it is so.

One Imperative is a thematic Art/Lit zine curated by Jeremy Fernando, to which I’m a regular contributor. The past issue, Issue 9′s theme is Literary (re)view, it’s here:  However, I was worried that people didn’t pay attention at all, and still more important, something I read today on Facebook made me feel necessary to repost. This time I even did copy & paste. See how desperate I am to get my message across?

Tight-fisted words

(Integrating quotations from a literary text into a literary analysis)

By Julie O’Yang


“…The peonies in front of the entrance suggests something splendidly Chinese,”

spoke Lady Saisho.

“No,” I answered, “now that they dislike me so much, I start to dislike them too.”

“You must try to see the whole thing with a mild eye,” she smiled.

Afterwards I went to visit the Empress. I couldn’t find out what she

really thought about the matter. However, I caught her words when she

whispered to the Ladies: “Well, you know, she is on friendly terms with Minister

of the Left and his circle.”

While I was leaving the room, I saw they were busy gossiping. But as

soon as they saw me, they stopped talking all of a sudden and everyone

went back to work. I was not used to the way they treated me and felt

badly hurt. Since the incident, Her Majesty had sent for me several

times, and I ignored her requests and didn’t visit her again for a long

time. Undoubtedly, the Ladies insisted that I belonged to the side of her

enemies and they spread all sorts of lies about me.

From The Pillow Book by Sei Shōnagon (清少納言), c. 966–1017


It is the nature of the artist to mind excessively what is said about him.

Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond

reason the opinions of others.

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own


I honestly think you should go back to earlier issues to find more one imperatives.  It’s from the energetic, sparkling Asia — because it is so — and it’s right here:

Jeremy Fernando is a Singaporean poet, writer, philosopher and critic, and his latest book, Writing Death, is an almost-perfect combination of these vocations. Recently described in a Singaporean magazine as “Asia’s Sexiest Philosopher”.

Because it is so.

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Catch up with me! — A little Sunday talk with Indian author Himani Vashishta

“I’m grateful to the people who are allowing me to exist. I wake up every morning knowing that my voice is heard. I do realise  it’s a great responsibility. I have the power to change, change at least some little things, some little old dominating ways of thinking…”

Check out our conversation here


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The book is not just a love story with darker shades but also is a treatise on the futility and brutality of wars between nations and a critique on the idea of nation state. Historically insightful with political undertones, the novel has fully fleshed out multi-layered and credible characters. Written beautifully and structured intelligently, you get hooked to the story right from the first page. The denouement is also equally fascinating.

Read here the complete review of my novel BUTTERFLY by Abdullah Khan.

The title is now available in all eBook formats, including iPad, Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, Copia, GardnersBaker & Taylor, eBookPie.

>>> Order print copy on Amazon or Barns&Noble


>>> Free worldwide delivery from Book Depository. Buy here your print copy today!!!

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My dream is yours …or, butterfly kisses…

“…to love, one has to be willing to risk oneself, to open oneself, to allow oneself to be wounded, torn apart. In new ways, ways that we have yet to understand, come across, ways we do not yet have a name for.” A review of my novel BUTTERFLY in Singapore Review of Books

My dream is yours … or, butterfly kisses …

By Jeremy Fernando


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Chrysalis: a recounting of a digital thread with my reader(s)

[*chrysalis, also known as aurelia or nympha, is the pupal stage of butterflies. The term is derived from the metallic gold-coloration found in the pupae of many butterflies, referred to by the Greek term chrysós for gold.]

Facebook on 21 June 2012:

Julie O’Yang shared the following link to say goodnight to friends, which led to discussions and questions that surprised me and left me with an ever-thankful heart.

Regina Scotti: I adore this music, as a matter of fact most Asian music.  Thank you, Julie!  Shared…
Regina Scotti: ‎I read your book, Butterfly, in a couple of days sitting on my deck amongst my flowers and dogs.  The weather was gorgeous, so it made the love story all the more enjoyable.  But I never quite figured out if the doctor was hallucinating and that maybe this fantasy didn’t really happen?  Any answers???????  It was beautifully written and so poetic.  I enjoyed it thoroughly!
Julie O’yang: ‎Regina, first of all, my kisses through this digital veil and wall, which is nevertheless valid and true. Speaking of real and true? I think perspective is important when we determine what is real and true. Perspective is connected to probability because so often our conclusions are completely incongruous with the facts. Albert Einstein said: “A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?” I’m drifting, though I am not at all trying to avoid to answer your question about my novel. The key is hidden in the ancient story which I included at the end: Zhuang Zi was dreaming of a butterfly, and when he awoke, he wondered whether it was a man dreaming of becoming a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming of becoming a man. This is a story written for me in the 4th century BC! The first time I read it — I was seven — I thought I was Zhuang Zi’s dream…
Julie O’yang: Further I would like to refer to “Of Love and Other Demons” by Gabriel García Márquez. In Of Love and Other Demons, people were convinced that some people died because a rapid dog bit them. In the same way, people were sure that the gray dog that bit Sierva Maria was the same dog that had rabies. No account of the number of gray dogs in the town was done. A question we would ask is: What is the probability that the gray dog that bit Sierva María was the same dog that had rabies? Another good question is: How certain are we that this certain dog had rabies?
Just how sure are we? That seems to be our only certainty.
Julie O’yang: Thank you. I would love to continue this discussion.
Julie O’yang: <Corr: Speaking of real and true? >>> ? = . >
Regina Scotti: That clarifies it for me.  It’s all in how I perceive it, whether true or the hallucination of the young Dr. Raigan.  So, the ambivalence is key to the story.  As you said it’s based on an ancient “fairy-tale” of sorts and totally open to interpretation.  So I guess I must try to define the way I saw it, which is probably ambivalent in itself.  Thank you anyway.  And I always enjoy your posts, even in other languages, several of which I almost understand! ;o)  And please continue sharing whatever Asian music that you have.  I love it and can play it over and over. xxxooo
Julie O’yang: The Sino-Japanese War (1931-1945) has become/is a landmark on the map of identity politics in Asia. Bearing this history in mind — history not being conceived as a common experience by the nations — leads to a disturbing development: old wounds over new wounds in a globalised economy. For me and my novel, ambivalence is not only a literary instrument, it may serve as adaptive function. For doctor Reigan, my male lead who seeks a cure, ambivalence is the cure and HOPE. History then becomes a dark fairytale, and hopefully will help us to develop an attitude to understand.

Julie O’yang: ‎Regina, thanks again for giving me the opportunity to elaborate the subject as well as my intention as a novelist xoxo

Julie O’yang: PS: Click to read Clock ticks on South China Sea
Thank you very much indeed, my dear reader!!! I would like to close my blog post with these words: Children don’t read to find their identity, to free themselves from guilt, to quench the thirst for rebellion or to get rid of alienation. They have no use for psychology….They still believe in God, the family, angels, devils, witches, goblins, logic, clarity, punctuation, and other such obsolete stuff. When a book is boring, they yawn openly. They don’t expect their writer to redeem humanity, but leave to adults such childish illusions. ~ Isaac Bashevis Singer

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The road of little everythings

With tears, sweat and blood — yep, it’s true, these are little everythings of an author — I have been able to collect a bunch of links. Things I enjoyed saying/being said, hearing/being heard, reading/being read, writing/being written. Other than the Google accesses, these here are romantic because they involve personal expression, flawed, imperfect and inadequate.

Julie’s dreaded voice: Renounce/Reverb Radio: We tell stories: “On June 4th, 1989, over a million students and protestors gathered at Tiananmen Square in Bejing to voice their discontent at government corruption and lack of democracy. Despite government assurances that there would be no violence, a bloody military crackdown killed hundreds, possibly thousands of peaceful protestors. Chinese artist and writer Julie O’Yang describes her experience of that fateful time, her terrifying escape to England and how she is now a foreigner in her own country.”

I also stumbled across the sweet words from my readers:

muzna.sayed wrote on Jun 1, 2012, 6:16 am  “Butterfly, a novel was awarded with much critical acclaim. The plot of the story is based against the backdrop of the Second World War. The main subject of the story circles around the disastrous love relationship between a married Chinese woman and a young Japanese solider. Everything is not as glorious and happy as it seems to appear in the initial chapters of the plot. Their love has to pass through many struggles and overcome many trials and tribulations. The plot of the story is set in the 1940s. On one hot summer day, a Chinese woman encounters an attractive young soldier on the banks of the pristine Yangtze river and it is love at first sight for her. However, he has his own restrictions and cannot return her love. At the same time, the young woman is unaware of the horrifying crime committed by the young soldier and would not have thought of nourishing any relationship with him if she was informed earlier of his misdeeds.”

Aishwarya wrote on Feb 24, 2012, 1:31 am “Julie Yang is an author born in China who brings to the world a beautiful piece of literature set amidst the Sino Japanese war. The love story she has intertwined gracefully into the war setup is irresistible, a young Japanese soldier who falls in love with a forty year old Chinese married woman. Their fatal destiny grips us to every turn of the page, as the novel takes us through waves of emotions from dark depression to cherry dipped romance. Julie plays with themes revolving around passion, forbidden boundaries, struggle and hope to take the story forward. Her choice of words is truly exceptional with a simple tone to the naked ear, but an invisible hook that roots itself inside you as you read on. Butterfly leaves you thinking even once you’ve finished. This is Julie’s debut novel, but it sure is enough to prove that she definitely here to stay. ”

I can’t say thank you enough, strangers! You said something nice to a complete stranger!!

Then, the wonderful Walter Mason wrote a great review on his blog. “Archetypal creatures reimagined by author Julie O’Yang in her fascinating new book BUTTERFLY: A NOVEL.” Click to read Walter.

Now I’m convincing enough for real fish to follow, am I not? So before I die, I know I’ve done all right, and it will end there. It hurts when something good ends. Here is my broken heart for you. The paperback version of my novel is now available on Barnes & Nobel >>>Click below to order>>>

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Caught in the Crossfire: moment of truth | An attempt to thought-provoking, literary courting

Caught in the Crossfire: moment of truth

An attempt to thought-provoking, literary courting between

Marcus Speh


Julie O’Yang

What a wonderful piece of luck (1719) K. Headlam

J O’Y: Marcus, tell me…What are you wearing, which colour? What is Art? Is literature Art?

MS: I’m wearing as little as possible because it got really hot in Berlin all of a sudden. I wear a brown T-shirt with the head of a bear wearing a firefighter’s hat and the writing “Remember Only You Prevent Wildfires!”. My sister gave it to me. Is it art? I’m not sure—though basically I’ve share Warhol’s credo: “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” But literature is the only art I really understand as a maker.

Let me ask you a question: is the cover of your novel “Butterfly” art? If so, what did you do that made it so? I would actually call it “delicious”, which suggests a cross between great food and art.

 ———           88888888888888888888888888Fountain

J O’Y: Oh, you don’t touch “Food”, Food is the Chinese religion. But yes, the cover of my book. It is art when the creator brings the work in contact with the external world and thus by way of interaction adds his contribution to the creative act. Marcel Duchamp’s fountain is art because it communicates. Art can’t perform itself. For me Art is communication, if not, it is not. So you said literature is the only art  you really understand as a maker. How can we make literature “talk” without being dull? Do you think fiction is worth the trouble? I mean it has almost become a cliché to remark the decline of literature, art, decline of anything.

MS: I used the Fountain by Duchamp as a profile photo for a while. It lead to curious email exchanges with Americans (no, I have no explanation for this that would also be politically correct). The fountain talks to me, it didn’t talk to them or if it did talk, it talked gibberish. I found it crystal-clear. The fountain said “don’t be dull”. But it also told me: “If you think you could turn anything upside down now and call it Art because I did you’re sorely mistaken.” So I believe there’s more to it than communication. To original Art at least which is, I think the only art worth doing. Literature ditto, I think. Harder to grasp at times. A pet topic of mine, really: writing that is “fake good”; that pretends to have something to say but it doesn’t really. This type of writing is very fashionable nowadays (but I’m not going to name names because I want to keep my knee-caps intact). So by implication: yes, I do think Fiction is worth the trouble. You make the world, or you make the world anew, or you make the world whole by writing something that is true. This aspect of art has been sorely in decline indeed. Perhaps this is just a phase though like an ice age. I don’t mind living in an ice age though: I got fur mittens.

Coming back to your book: was it worth the trouble? I’ve not really finished a novel myself (though I’ve written a few if that makes sense) so I’m truly curious how it feels.

You don’t want to talk about the cover of your book. Fine with me. Don’t then…it does talk, that cover. It whispers “butterfly”. Incidentally, I’m a fan of butterflies. In my novel “Gizella” (forthcoming from Folded Word Press), there are plenty of butterflies. And dragons. I like those, too.

 J O’Y: Then I am dragonfly. Near the city I grew up as a child, we used to go to the mountains to catch huge dragonflies in the summer. Green-bluish monsters, they bite like hell (laughs).

Writing for me is like breathing. Is breathing worth the trouble? I’m not sure but  I am  doing it every minute. It’s not up to me.

I’m stealing from one of your  interviews in which the interviewer touched the subject. “The birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author.” Can you tell us something about the (re)birth of short/flash fiction and its popularity in Germany?

: totally screwed up writer’s DNA

MS: You’re a thief but that’s fair game: it’s written in the DNA of all artists. I’ve seen this Barthes quote before: at > kill author, a journal that build every issue like a tome over the bones of a dead author. Otherwise, this is typical French philosophy, which is either too obvious or too weird. This one is too obvious for me. It does make me think of death though, as did the opening paragraph of your novel: the odour of death vs. the scent of perfume…

I don’t want to answer another question on flash ever. I’m flashed out. I know nothing of flash in Germany, and I really only write short stories as a form of exercise. Though I get a lot of them written because I can hardly make myself finish anything. Do you know this problem? How many novels did you start until you finished “Butterfly”? Or why not?

J O’Y: I know the problem, that is: I can imagine. You know, I am one of those Asian robots, once you push “start” you can’t make them stop. But seriously, I always finish once I get started on something. It’s a sort of constant euphoria. Perhaps that’s why I don’t always like the end result. Creating is a mediumistic experience, the creator is bending physical and chemical laws, and it doesn’t always feel comfortable to return to this-reality. It never is…Which reminds me another quotes  I found on your website. “Writing is the only way to cope with memories.” Which memories are you talking about? Is that the reason why you chose to write in English other than German? To be a better, less ordinary observer? What are the advantages of the bilingual process? Because I don’t think there are disadvantages…

MS: What is it with Asians and robots? The other day I saw a robot butt designed in Japan. I think everyone wants one when they come out. Will it make turn farting into a trendy thing to do? Perhaps Asians love robots to cope with the future. Perhaps the robot is the medium; if you’re right about that “mediumistic experience” of writing (I concur) then writers would be great companions for robots. We should write a novel about a writer and his (her) robot together! I totally sympathize with the need for robots. I’m a huge robot fan myself. I need the hope that there will be true robots one day to cope. Remembering is another way to cope with memories. But I like that thought of yours, which never occurred to me. The reason why I opted for English instead of my native tongue is probably because my writing mind awoke in the midst of English culture and was further nurtured by my English-speaking family environment. To me, one disadvantage is my constant guilt feeling towards my mother tongue (perhaps that’s just another form of guilt towards my mother?); the distance of outside observation using English as a tool is also painful. It’d be so much cosier to just be one with my world; alas, I’m two (at least).

Avant-garde China

What about your own bilinguality? What’s your passion? I read that you were born in China, live in the Netherlands (where I studied and worked for a while, odd little place), studied Japanese. But you write in English and here you are chatting with a German (I presume you like the whole Berlin thing?)…Jeanette Winterson said “The measure of love is loss”. Do you love English?

J O’Y: Everything in writing begins with language. Language begins with listening. The thing is I don’t have the opportunity to hear the Chinese language, to perceive sounds and make them my daily experience. I have a salad bar in my head, I have a salad bar circle of friends. It just feels natural to me. So yes, the whole Berlin thing is great, I love it! I believe it’s more or less “correct” mirror of our time we are living in. I love the English language; I do. Such as Jeremy Irons speaks in Brideshead Revisited, so… appetizing.

Marcus, What was your experience in The Netherlands? They said that Heinrich Heine said that in the Netherlands everything happens fifty years later than anywhere else. The Dutch themselves believe they are a forward-looking nation.

MS: Your statements are challenges. I accept. My writing doesn’t begin with language, it begins with a wordless, shapeless urge that I can’t name which drives me crazy, gives rise to an image or a set of images until I manage (sometimes) to channel the urge into a sentence. Language comes last. Now the technical writing can begin.

I love that idea of the “salad bar in my head”. What a wonderful scene. Jeremy Irons is scary. The Netherlands aren’t. They were once, when the Dutch were colonial geezers, but now they’re modeling what it means to be civilized for the rest of Europe. Didn’t know Heine was down on them—well, he loved the French. We all love the French, love to hate them. Honestly, I think they’re forward-looking today (the Dutch) albeit a tad boring. But being a role model is boring (laughs).

The Spanish inquisition had a large part in modernising the Dutch people

 J O’Y: “It will never rain roses: when we want to have more roses, we must plant more roses.” Which roses? Creating a new sense & sensation, do you? (What kind of food do you like the most? What’s your favourite dish? Do you cook?)

 MS: in German we have this saying “jemandem ein Loch in den Bauch fragen”—pester someone with questions is like “asking a hole in his belly”. German’s very grounded in medieval lingual and cultural oddities. Roses are odd flowers. I can’t say I like them, but I love Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) who said this. I imagine she was a bit tortured as a person and writer, trying to make the best of her erotic talents in Victorian England, and which flower is more tortured, and promises more torture than the rose? Food is a different question (book even) altogether: I don’t cook, my wife does, and whatever she cooks is what I like best. I’m a creative eater though. Right now, we’re going through a large number of Tapas dishes (a good fit for the hot weather). How about you? Both roses and food (I can’t let you off the hook now)—butterflies don’t come to roses, do they? And do you cook Chinese (I’d like that)?

 J O’Y: Mutabilis, do you know the rose? The flower doesn’t fade, instead it darkens with showy, distinct coloration. The single petals open sulphur yellow, changing through orange to a rich pink and finally crimson. Before you know, you have a whole collection of bright, silky, multi-coloured butterflies settling on the bush in your garden. Mutabilis’ common name is Butterfly Rose. I don’t know why it’s also called The China Rose. I cook Chinese but not so well. I prefer to eat. I love food in general, however Italian and Chinese, La cucina piccola fal la casa grande. It’s like a book – a book is like a kitchen carried in your pocket. Now I’m saying this, it seems we have reached the point to talk about “the size”. There is a passage I’d like to quote from your website with reference to the “literary size”.

“Contemporary things in prose can have value appropriate to the contemporary psyche only if they’re written in one sitting. Reflections or recollections of twenty of thirty lines—say, at the maximum a hundred lines—that’s the contemporary novel.” Do you think you can tell us of your vision? And the role of New Technology?

 MS: you’re quoting quotes back at me, how rude (laughs). This one is by Yuri Olesha, one of the great modern Russian novelists who wrote “No day without a line.” When Olesha lived and wrote — Stalinist Russia — minutes might have been more precious, I don’t know. Russia defies analysis though it is endlessly fascinating as are its writers, poets, bards. My best friend is Russian and he has the heart of a poet, too. Otherwise, I don’t think I believe this statement at all. I probably picked it because I needed a justification for my own flash. I’m over that now. There’s no justification for my own flash. I’m over that now. There’s no justification for flash, and none is needed either. And I’m over flash, too. Did I say that already, in a flash? Do you flash? And if so, where?…New technology, OMG. No, you go. These five syllables make me feel sleepy. Say something surprising, please?

Guns and roses

Butterfly, a novel by Julie O’Yang available on Amazon. Click on image to order.

J O’Y: Your first question. I’m running a project on my website, U-R, which you can check here: I call mine “tablet-size reads”, which are slightly different than flash. It’s my own concept, my own universe and my own logic. I like to work like that.

As for your second question. You are German, aren’t you? I thought machines and stuff turn you guys on, no? You were a particle physicist. Could you explain Super String Theory in five comprehensible sentences? By comprehensible I mean in a literary way…

MS: cool — I LOVE technology to tell the truth. I love tech projects, too. Ultra-Reads reminds me of Movellas where they’re trying to build a whole portal based on palm-sized prose for hand-held devices. Your texts are ultra-lovely by the way. In “The Kite”: «My brother and I thought: “What is glass? What are the facts and certainty?”» I like that influx of existentialism in your writing.

Let me be fast about the facts: I am German (though my wife says it doesn’t show); I won’t say what turns me on (there must be limits); I was a particle physicist, now I’m but a particle. Super String Theory (off the top of my head): (1) the universe is a mystery. (2) Physicists are passionate, curious people, who know this. (3) All physicists feel enormous pressure to have to explain the world to non-physicists. (4) Super String Theory can easily be explained in five sentences. (5) With Wittgenstein, the world cannot be explained in any number of sentences. (Perhaps this is what the world is—a sentence?) — What do you say? Seriously though, when I was a student I once spent an entire train ride of 6 hours explaining physics to an old lady. In the end she shook her head, that was all, and thanked me and left. I understood.

Leibniz found confirmation for his binary theory in the I Ching’s depiction of the universe as a progression of contradicting dualities

J O’Y: I imagine that our Universe is a big computer and the Creator is a gamer using I Ching as his User’s guide. I Ching is nothing but a jumbo of binary constructions and riddles.  I LOVE physics. Nerdy stuff fascinates me. A few days ago I was working in my U-R project, and I wrote about my protagonists, two children,  “…We wanted to steal a glimpse of Eden carefully, scientifically designed by ourselves. Scientific, because we engaged equation in our reasoning. We calculated the shapes of leaves that grew on the flowing branches aeons ago before the tree turned itself into ominous, tough and unbending cement. The dodgy science taught us that it was a bodhi tree of heart-shaped leaves. And for one thing, Paradise is allergic to humans. ”

Next. “…One good heart-break will fur­nish the poet with many songs, and the novelist with a considerable number of novels. But they must have hearts that can break.” This is my last question. Do you want to have a drink with me after our conversation? I realise it’s strange because I asked you for a drink with me. But let’s say I can say no to you, would that be enough for one heart-break? Would that give birth to a novel or at least 20 lines?

 MS: That’s one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite writers’ writers, Edith Wharton. For me, this encapsulates the need to not just write anything about anyone or anything provided it’s well written, but to write with a moral sense that art can make the world better, to put it simply. John Gardner is a more modern prophet of this gospel, and there’s a legion of writers who write damn well but so damn heartless that it makes my blood stand still. I’m curious, is there a moral message in “Butterfly”? Do you know what I’m talking about?

Any one coffee date with any one woman would be enough to fill a novel. Twenty lines might leave me hungry for more. And I’m not talking about coffee now. But you asked for it. Bad girl.

“You’ve been a bad girl.” ~ Photo: still from Saint Joan, a film by Otto Preminger, 1957

J O’Y: Well, I’m spicing up our conversation so people won’t fall asleep. Fighting the overwhelming yawn- factor, I am Saint Joan!

I don’t know if I wanted to convey a moral message through my novel(s), I’m not sure. I want to tell a good story in the first place, and if there is a message of sorts – it’s up to my readers –  I want it to be challenging. Reigan, my male lead from my novel is a medical doctor. At the beginning of the story, he says to his patient when he visits her in her sickroom: These days there are a great many books about trauma and its effects on our country’s one point three billion poor souls. Poppycock recipe. We are the aristocrats privileged with a past.” The secret sickroom is the doorway to a painful memory, to repressed history of the Chinese past. In China many things have happened; the mess called history is also our cure. On the other hand, I’d like to think that history is more than a lesson. It’s chocolate. Although chocolate tastes like heaven and makes you smile, there are some disadvantages associated with eating this rich food. It contains high fat and sugar percentage and low vitamin, it is even toxic and can poison your dog! Yes, everything can be too much for a human life.

And then, the Rape of Nanking is one of the main focuses of my novel. I deal with violence. I like to explore human brutality and cruelty not to moralise. I’m not interested in preaching. Violence can radically reshape civilisation. Great changes have occurred in civilisations when cultures of war, heroism and rampant misogyny invaded and stamped out a more benign, nature-based, world view. Take the fall of Troy – and perhaps as a result –  a whole way of seeing life, death, women and immortality was mythically reshaped to frame a justification for the harsh rules of patriarchy. Please understand, I’m not propagating war either. I like to play with thoughts.

Message (or the lack of it) aside, while I was writing Butterfly, I was ever more consciously exploring an unnamed aspect of written words.  Have you ever tried to walk carrying a grand piano on your back? You’ve got to be that strong to be able to finish a book, ask any writer. A strong body makes the mind strong. The human body has two ends on it: one to create with and one to sit on. So I guess there are two category of writers: creative inspirators and sitters (as luck would have it, in Chinese writer and sitter have exactly the same pronunciation.). Unfortunately I must say, the majority of writers belongs to the bleak category. It’s a tough profession, a tough world out there. But you are either an artist or you are not.

The process of writing a novel is very musical. For me it’s very much similar to singing and dancing; its physical sense makes much more sense to me. The body tries to tell the truth whereas thoughts tell lies. Give all your thoughts to the body. You get into the rhythm and the rhythmics of how your protagonists are. The body is meant to be seen, not all covered up in powder and paint. So is writing. It is William Blake who said that the body was the soul’s prison unless the five senses are fully developed and open. Blake considered the senses the “windows of the soul.” So yes, quite plainly put, writing for me is like having sex that can transcend me as well as my reader to a mystical experience.


 Marcus Speh lives in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, Germany, near a large selection of fine coffee houses and writers. He’s a writer, ex-particle physicist, professor, father, former fencer and paratrooper, and blogs at NothingtoFlawnt. His flash fiction has been published all over the place, but it’s tiny so you might not find it. However, you’re in luck: in 2012, MadHatPress will publish a collection of his best short fiction titled “Thank You For Your Sperm”. His flash novel “Gizella” will be published in 2013 by FoldedWordPress. Since 2010, Marcus has also done 14 interviews including this one, and he’s tried hard not to repeat himself too much but probably failed.

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Filed under Gimme butterfly kisses!, Picnic on literature, Reviews, Uncategorized

Ask a fish, a review

“Chinese mythology is filled with tales of fish-women, erotic enchantresses who can disguise their scales, perhaps for generations, in order to lure the human men they love. These archetypal creatures have been re-imagined by Dutch-Chinese author Julie O’Yang in her fascinating new book Butterfly: A Novel, and they exist in a world that incorporates the modernity of Shanghai with memories of the Nanking massacre and the romantic and sexual torments of a young doctor.”
A new review is up by Austalian writer, scholar & dreamer Walter Mason. Read

>>> Rush to Amazon to order your print copy or download the Kindle Ebook in Amazon’s Kindle store  >>>>>>>>> (click below)

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I’m a green dog

In 2008, the year of the Beijing Summer Olympic Games, I hosted a talkshow on Dutch National TV (VPRO). For the programme I travelled to Beijing where I interviewed five guests working in the media of the People’s Republic of China. Our conversations focus on media censorship and the fast changing landscape inside the System. Due to copyright restrictions, I’m not able to share any part of the talkshow.  However, I managed to write a short story of my unforgettable experience, which you can read here:

For my Dutch friends, here is an interview with me on NPS Kunststof Radio shortly after I returned from my recording on location in my homeland >>> It was fun talking to Frenk van der Linden.

Now four years on, this is the lastest state of play. Read “China Soft-Power Watch: the Yang Rui ‘Foreign Bitch’ Factor”. Yang Rui was one of my guests I had interviewed, the CCTV Larry King

(Artwork: Zhou Chunya)


Filed under Reviews, Stories with a hole in it, Uncategorized