Interview with mystery author G.X. Chen

Boston-area mystery author G.X. Chen is here today to tell us a little bit about her newest book, The Mystery of Moutai.
G.X. Chen is
a freelancer who lives in Boston with her husband (both of her mystery
novels are based in Boston). She permanently moved from China to the US after
Tiananmen Massacre in 1989. Previously published books include
 The Mystery of Revenge (a mystery novel) and Forget Me Not: A Love Story of
the East
historic fiction/romance) and several other novels in Chinese.
Please tell us about your current
The Mystery
of Moutai
is an even-paced murder mystery with interesting characters and a plot
of intrigue. It also has a bit of Chinese culture and history. I tend to
introduce a part of Chinese history in my book, i.e. the Cultural Revolution in
this one.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve heard and read quite a few incidents of unethical conduct in
academia over the years that made me decide to write something about it. What
is better than a fictional murder mystery?
From Prologue
the spring of 1994, John Chan, an athletic teenager, vaulted up the stairs of
an old apartment building on the edge of Chinatown in the city of Boston,
taking two steps at a time while carrying a hockey stick and a duffel bag full
of shoulder pads, helmets, gloves, and skates. He was tired but very excited
because he had just played an important hockey game at his schoolthe
winner would go on to the division finalsand he could hardly wait to tell his mother
that he had a winning goal in the second period and was congratulated by all of
his teammates and his coach. John was starving. Looking forward to a hug; a hot
shower; and a hearty, homemade meal, he was rushing toward his apartment, which
was located on the third floor of the five-story brick building.
the door swung open by a touch of the end of his hockey stick, John stopped in
alarm. Even if she was expecting a guest, his mother always locked the
apartment doorshe
was afraid of burglars ever since their next-door neighbor had a break-in
several months ago. John dropped the duffel bag, placed the hockey stick
against the wall and peeked inside the apartment apprehensively. It was late in
the afternoon, but the west-facing apartment was still well lit by the sun,
which was sinking slowly on the horizon.
jaw dropped when he saw what had become of his home, which was always neat and
clean no matter how hectic the occupants’ lives were. The living room was in
total disarray, the floor covered with bits and pieces of books and magazines,
and all the drawers and cabinet doors in the kitchen were pulled open—his
home had been turned upside down, ransacked.
voice echoed as he called out, “Mom, I’m home! Where are you?”
response; the apartment was eerily quiet. Hesitantly, John opened the door
wider and entered, trying not to step on the fallen books because he knew his
mother, Shao Mei, loved them. A former physics professor at Beijing University,
Shao Mei kept all the books she had brought with her from China, even though
most of them were getting flimsy and falling apart.
What exciting story are you working on
I’m currently working on a murder mystery which will take the readers to
the rural China and the great famine in early sixties which killed more than 15
million people in three years.
When did you first consider yourself a
I was an accidental writer. I started reading (instead of solving math
problems) when I was home during the Cultural Revolution (schools have been
closed nationwide). My first novel published when I was 24 so I think I
considered myself as a writer when I was in early twenties.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
I have a full-time job so my time of writing is in a block of time,
maybe 2 hours a day in late afternoon or early evening. I bring a Microsoft
Surface instead of an iPad when I travel so I can work on my book using a
memory stick.

What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
I like to make up stories when I am walking to and from my office (1.2
miles each way), so when I sit down in late afternoon after work, I know what
to write.
As a child, what did you want to be
when you grew up?
I wanted to be a scientist when I was a kid but it got altered by the
Cultural Revolution when I was forced to quit school. Without a teacher, it was
very hard to study science so I turned to read and write instead.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
I’m self-taught, only had six years of formal education (five years in
primary school and one year in middle school) before I went on to study
literature in college. I recorded that part of experience (my generation) in
the historic novel Forget Me Not: A Love
Story of the East
published last year.
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Thanks, Grace!

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