Brendan O’Reilly and facts about china

Whether you want to find out about the things to do in China or attractions in China, you don’t have to check anymore. Brendan O’Reilly has a one stop destination in his new book: ’50 things you didn’t know about China’ which not just gives you a cultural insight in to the facts about China from an authoritative source. As a part of our author interviews series where we catch up with famous authors and their books, Brendan caught up with Tiger and here is an excerpt of the interview.

Catch up with the book review of 50 things you didn’t know about China. You would find some really interesting facts about China.

Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

I’m Brendan O’Reilly, I’m from the U.S, but I’ve lived in China for six years, I’ve also spent a combined total of nine months in India. I’ve worked as a writer, teacher, grill cook, assistant for the elderly, street musician, and a few other things I’ve probably shouldn’t mention here.

Where were you born? Tell us about your childhood, parents.

I was born and raised in Seattle. My dad was something of a hippie back in the day… you can tell he was really a hippie, because he would be a bit offended by being called a hippie. He and my mother both worked in mental health – his job was to determine whether people were mentally ill or not, and my mother was a psych nurse. Basically, they had the perfect background and experience for raising a child like me.

What and where did you study? Any influences that inspired to write?
I studied PPE – that’s the combined study of Political Science, Philosophy, and Economics – at Western Washington University in Bellingham, a town near the Canadian border about an hour and a half north of Seattle.
I was interested in history and politics from a very young age. From around the age of ten I started developing my writing abilities, although my strengths appeared to be in writing nonfiction. As for my professional career, I started writing for Asia Times in 2012, and then moved on to write freelance for many other publications, including The Diplomat, and Business Insider. I even wrote a piece for the BBC’s Vietnamese service (they translated my work from English to Vietnamese). My time in India inspired me to write a book on comparative religion called The Transcendent Harmony, and I’ve contributed to writing a travel guide to China for Panda Books.

What were your dreams like when you were a kid?
When I was 10 I wanted to be an anthropologist living among the isolated tribes of New Guinea, or possibly Brazil. Then, when I was 14, I became something of a Indophile and wanted to live in India and learn about the local culture. I still haven’t been to New Guinea….

Thought process behind the book? It is a rare topic. 
After living in China for a few years, I realized that people outside the country have many misconceptions about the world’s most populous nation. Actually, the real genesis of the book was a visit to my Grandfather. He took me to a meeting of his friends – mostly retired professionals, businessmen, and academics – and I made a presentation called “Five Things You Didn’t Know about China”. From then I realized that there was a huge potential for educating non-Chinese about the country.

What kind of research you had to do for the book?
Well, for starters I needed to live in China for a long time and have a grasp of the language and culture. From there, I consulted news articles, academic sources, and my own personal experience to create an accessible introduction to the surprising realities of the country,

How did you come up with that name for your book?

That was the easy part…

What can your readers expect from the book?

Readers can expect the unexpected! There are many humorous and surprising bits of information about modern China, presented in a very readable format. There is also a wealth of practical knowledge about China’s impact on the outside world. It is essential reading for anyone interested in interacting with Chinese people, doing businesses with the country, or for anyone who is curious or concerned about China’s increasingly large influence around the world.

Tell me your best experience after you your book came out!
The best experience so far was my AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) session on Reddit. Hundreds of people participated, asking about China’s relations with India, cultural questions, and about my own life experiences. This showed me the incredible thirst for knowledge that Indian people have about China, and further reinforced my belief that this book has a role to play in fostering mutual understanding.

Please tell me how do you prepare yourself to write. How do you beat writers block?
All of my writing takes place on my laptop, so it is important that I don’t allow myself to become distracted! I find I usually write best in the late morning or early afternoon. I will organize my thoughts by first writing one sentence for each paragraph, and then planning my work around that.
As for writer’s block… I feel the best way is to write some thoughts down. Even just a few words or phrases can help to get the ball rolling. If I’m really stuck, I’ll go on a walk or a bike ride to help my thoughts organize themselves in my mind.

Future plans?
I’m still living in China. I’ve found a good job in the educational sector, but not actually teaching. I currently write freelance for Geopolitical Information Service, a consultancy based in Liechtenstein. Also, I am interested in writing 50 Things You Didn’t Know about India, 50 Things You Didn’t Know about The United States, and maybe 50 Things You Didn’t Know about Southeast Asia.
Any message, tips for aspiring authors? An author’s secret?
Keep working at it every day! Even ten minutes in the evening will help keep you in the right state of mind. There is no magical formula or shortcut – you need to put in the hours.

Any quote from the book that is your favourite?
Regarding the expeditions of Zheng He – a Chinese admiral whose ships sailed to India, Arabia, and Africa in the early 1400s:
China’s rulers had the technology, manpower, and economic infrastructure to completely dominate the world. So how did China lose out to European powers?
After the death of Zheng He’s patron emperor, the new ruler of China was not so keen on foreign influences. There was some fear that increased riches of the merchant class could threaten the political power of the court. The new emperor officially declared that some distant powers should stop sending him gifts:

“Some far-off countries pay their tribute to me at much expense and through great difficulties, all of which are by no means my own wish. Messages should be forwarded to them to reduce their tribute so as to avoid high and unnecessary expenses on both sides.” 
Zheng died at sea, and there was a concerted political effort to downplay his successes. The massive treasure ships were left to rot in the harbors (some historians even claim they were burned).

The successes – and ultimate anticlimax – of Zheng. His voyages highlight several important dynamics in Chinese history. First, when China is stable, prosperous, and ruled by practical leaders, she can dominate the world. Secondly, this domination is for the most part peaceable and based on mutual trade – provided other countries symbolically recognize China’s preeminence. Finally, China can suddenly turn inward, and utterly waste some extremely precious resources. The future of China – and, indeed, the world – depends largely on the benevolence and wisdom of whoever finds his or herself on the Emperor’s throne.

If you wan to know some things to do in China, attractions in China or things not to do in china, pick up the book today from flipkart here.

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