Thursday 17 September 2015

Guest Post - Lucy Cruickshanks ~ Author of The Road to Rangoon..

I am delighted to welcome author Lucy Cruickshanks to the blog today 

and thank her for sharing  with us 

the  inspiration

Lucy Cruickshanks

for her latest novel

17 September 2015

Welcome back to Jaffareadstoo, Lucy. It's lovely to see you again...

What can you tell us about The Road to Rangoon?

I have a real love affair with Asia. My first novel, The Trader of Saigon, was set in Vietnam and my second was always going to have its heart in the region too. I hadn’t been to Myanmar before I started writing The Road to Rangoon, though I’d wanted to travel there for years. The country is only beginning to open up to tourism and the long-standing military dictatorship is undertaking embryonic reforms. Their society is poised on the cusp of change. I was conscious that if I didn’t visit soon, it might have transformed beyond recognition, so setting a novel there seemed an excellent reason to expedite my trip.

Before I went, I looked at the issues facing the country, searching for a story. Myanmar is a fascinating but troubled beast. Her history is replete with conflict, from the brawling kings of old, to the arrival of the Portuguese mercenaries, British colonialist and Japanese invaders in World War II, to the decades of dictatorship and civil war that followed, and the emergence and repression of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. There were opportunities for stories galore, but the gem trade captured my imagination above all else. As many as 90% of the world’s rubies come from Myanmar and their quality is unparalleled. They are as much conflict gems as Africa’s notorious blood diamonds, however, funding both the government and the insurgent ethnic armies who vie for control of their historic regional homelands. Many of the most valuable gemstones are from a single region, high in the rugged mountains of Shan State. Mogok is an area where violence, corruption, smuggling, trickery, secrecy and superstition reign, and it became an irresistible backdrop for The Road toRangoon.

Myanmar is a difficult place to research in. The country is staggeringly beautiful but its people have been made wary by decades of repression and human rights abuses. I’d read vicariously before I travelled there, but there’s no substitute for experiencing a setting yourself and hearing about life from the people who call it home. The Burmese are often understandably reluctant to talk about the past or politics, though, and I was always aware that to push a conversation may have been to endanger them as the government is so strict. It was frustrating at times, but I found the more I opened up about my own life, the more people were willing to talk about theirs too. There is a genuine desire to discover about the outside world, to compare their day-to-day experiences to ours and discuss the challenges they face. I learned to read between the lines, to listen to the unspoken sentences, the hints and subtexts, as much as the words that were actually said.

Throughout writing The Road to Rangoon, I felt responsible for portraying Myanmar and the Burmese people as sensitively and authentically as possible, but as a writer, that’s positive. It helps me keep believability at the fore of my mind. The story and the characters I’ve created in this novel are fictional, but the context through which they wade is real. Though I can only imagine what life is like living under a military dictatorship, I hope to have done their experiences justice, at least a small amount.

©Lucy Cruickshanks

Lucy Cruickshanks

You can find more about Lucy on her website

Follow her on Twitter @LJCruickshanks

Visit her on Facebook

Amazon UK

My thanks to Lucy for sharing the inspiration for her novel

and also to Corinna at Quercus Books for her help with this interview.



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