I grew up in SE Asia with parents who followed traditional ways. They found it baffling – and a constant source of frustration – how radically different I was from my two sisters. I was the middle child. Trouble. No acting sweet and feminine, or unquestioning obedience for me.
Times were different then. My father declared that as I was born in the Year of the Dragon, I should have been a boy, because I was too headstrong and opiniated for a girl. My mother made the dire prediction that any future husband will probably not approve of such behaviour and beat me. Trying to follow their ideals of How to Behave Like a Lady, was like being dragged, pushed and twisted into pretzel.
When I inevitably rebelled, I was “disowned”. This was a severe censure in Asian society. Think of a Klingon facing discommendation. I was told that I was not their child, but a stray picked up from a dumpster. Rather harsh, but they were being products of pre-War times, reflecting their own upbringing.
Instead of being suitably chastised into submission though, my imagination was fired.
Now, what if my real family was somewhere out there? My True Bloodkin. Maybe I was of some ancient royal lineage, kidnapped by wicked enemies of the state and abandoned? I was switched at birth in the hospital, and given to the wrong family? Or maybe I was a magical changeling, swapped from the crib and left in the mortal world among mere Mundanes?
While other children had imaginary friends, I had a whole imaginary clan. The parents of my special clan were travelling performers, with seven children. Me being somewhere in the middle, of course. With an elder twin brother, who always had my back.
As soon as I was old enough to string a sentence together, I picked up a pen and began scribbling. I wrote about the many fanta-bulous exploits of my clan. Together, we were intrepid adventurers who solved mysteries, brought evildoers to justice, defeated scary monsters and went ghostbusting. We had lots of fun times.
This creative magic also morphed the Bear Rebels from being mere cutesy plushies sitting on the bookshelves, into lively independent characters. Each went on to develop individual personalities and bearitudes. The bears and furry friends challenge me with “what if” scenarios, the everlasting “why”, and the protesting “no way”. Wonder where they got that rebellious streak?
Hence, writing has always been my solace and a source of refuge. It is something essential to my well-being as the need to breathe, eat and sleep.
Words and phrases float around my mind, sometimes in harmonic arrangements, other times in animated dissonance. Whenever the mood strikes me, I will pluck a sentence or two, thread them into a coherent sequence. Then, I simply let my fingers move over the keyboard and let the story unfold before my eyes.