Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Rhys at the Poisoned Pen

Last night was my launch party for Bless the Bride at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale AZ. A merry time was had by all with champagne, fortune cookies, shamrock cookies and Rob Rosenwald's famous soda bread which is just yummy. (unfortunately the speaker never gets to eat or drink!)

If you ever happen to be in Scottsdale, then you have to stop by this fantanstic store. Exactly what a bookstore should be. Events at Poisoned Pen are a little different from the average 'here I am and this is my book' sort of thing. Owner Barbara Peters sits with the author and we chat. Sometimes about the book but the conversation wanders as all good conversations do. Last night we found ourselves discussing colonialism and missionaries in Hawaii as a offshoot of the plight of the Chinese in America--which is the theme of Bless the Bride.

I had been telling the audience what I discovered about the abuse of Chinese living in America at the turn of the last century. The US government wanted to send them home but appropriated no funds to do so. So they lived virtually in limbo--no rights at all. No right of citizenship for any child born here. But that didn't happen ofen because it was a society of men and they were not allowed to import their families. So the 1900 census shows 3000 men living in New York's Chinatown and only 30 women. Of course there might have been wives with bound feet lving hidden away, but mostly it was bachelors living in primitive dorms, sleeping on wooden planks and dreaming of the day when they could make enough money to go home. In the meantime they didn't dare cut off their tell-tale braid for in China not wearing the braid was an insult to the emperor and subject to instant beheading.

So some of the Chinese men married Irish girls, who would rather have a hardworking sober Chinese man than a drunken Irish lout. But they were also in limbo, shunned by both communities. Lots of fascinating stuff and of course I could only include a small part of it in my story. But when we shout about human rights abuses in other countries, we should think back a hundred years and realize that we were just as bad.

By the way there was a podcast of our discussion which will be available on the Poisoned Pen website and also on YouTube.


  1. Interesting. Didn't know that interracial marriages were allowed back then. Wondering about the lives of their children. Maybe you can incorporate that into the next book?

    Also, when are you working on the next Royal Spies book? I can't take it any more.

  2. The children were shunned by both races and lived in a bubble. But the fathers believed in education so there was hope for their futures.
    Next Royal Spyness due out in Sept. Called Naughty in Nice.

  3. Thank you for your kind comment about my review of Bless the Bride. I look forward to another chance to chat when you are next in Phoenix. As you might have figured out if you wandered to other parts of my website, I love to cook, so let me know and I'll bring the fresh goodies to your next Poisoned Pen launch! Rob's soda bread was indeed yummy.

  4. I've heard that those women know a lot about books, I'd like to listen a conference given by them because I want to acquire a good knowledge.