Extraordinary Locations Inspire My Books: Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a melting pot of Eastern and Western cultures, as well as a popular tourist destination known as Fragrant Harbor. I was born and raised in Kowloon, meaning Nine Dragons, and experienced the hot and humid summers, typhoons, and monsoons in a city that has grown to over 7 million people. From an early age I was engrossed in a myriad of cultures including Brits, Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, and many other nationalities. Thanks to Facebook, I’m still connected to many of my Beacon Hill grade school friends!I learned Cantonese and English at the same time, mostly playing basketball on the playgrounds near Kowloon Tong, and loved to eat dim sum, egg tarts and pineapple buns by the dozens growing up.Today, Hong Kong is under China’s rule, governed as a limited democracy. While China controls foreign and defense policies, Hong Kongers are allowed freedom of governance in both financial and social affairs. In recent years we’ve seen the younger generation of Hong Kongers demonstrate against what they perceive to be China’s overreach to this free market economy.

As I thought about where my novel, Waking Lazarus, would take readers I knew that the New York of Asia was the perfect setting. Fast-paced. Intoxicating smells. Iconic skylines and backdrops. But I wanted to go deeper than what we see on the surface of this neon lit concrete jungle, and peel back a darker underworld of the city where deals are made in the shadows. It was not only a walk down memory lane for me in a city I love, but through the characters that evolved it has become a page-turning thriller for readers around the world.As a kid we used to take the MTR, or Star Ferry over to Hong Kong Island, ride the double-deck trams, or hop on a bus over the mountain to Stanley Market, where we’d bargain for the newest pairs of Nike’s and Polos, even though some of them were total knockoffs. Anyone who has visited Hong Kong will testify that it is the place to bargain for a deal, whether it be electronics, watches, clocks, textiles, clothing or footwear. And for those who don’t need a bargain you can stay at the Peninsula Hotel and mingle with global business moguls and do some high-priced shopping!

But there is another side to the city that most do not see…and those are the places explored within the pages of Waking Lazarus. Below is a snapshot into one of the pivotal places in the novel.

Here are a few fun facts:

#1 | Dim sum, meaning “touch the heart,” originated in Hong Kong. Can I get an “Amen!”

#2 | Star Ferry began running in 1880 with the service across Victoria Harbor to Tsim Sha Tsui taking up to an hour. Today, that same ride across the harbor takes 10 minutes.

#3 | Hong Kong was ranked 4th in global billionaires, comprising of 64 residents holding at least $1 billion fortunes.

#4 | Hong Kong’s skyline boasts two of the highest buildings in the world. The tallest building, International Commerce Centre, sits in West Kowloon and is half a kilometre high. Equally as impressive is the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, whose bar and swimming pool are on the 118th floor.

#5 | A foodie heaven, Hong Kong is the place to score Michelin-starred food at rock bottom prices throughout a city that has one of the highest numbers of restaurants or cafes per capita.

Take an adventure to the Orient inside the pages of Waking Lazarus!


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