What do you hope your obituary will say about you? They can say what they like, it won’t bother me. You can tell my Buddhist upbringing didn’t take! If I had to read it ahead of time though, I suppose I would like it to say that I knew what I wanted and I strove to get it. Attaining a goal is less important than the trying.
Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live? This is certainly true and where I grew up is the main subject of my book. I grew up in Cambodia as it went through its darkest period of history. Pol Pot and his cronies did their best to ensure that it was a miserable time for everyone, and unfortunately they were very good at it. I now live in Canberra (Australia) where it is peaceful and quiet.
What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing? I am new to this, but writing such a personal book was very difficult. I had shut away a lot of memories and had to drag each one out into the light and examine it minutely. The process of writing brought those images to the forefront of my mind, and I shed a lot of tears along the way. I still do even now as I write this.
Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you? My family is supportive, although some of them don’t want to read the book because they know it will be a painful reminder. My friends have all been enthusiastic, although I was always wary that a gushing review from people I know might not match what a stranger will think.
What other jobs have you had in your life? I started working as a cleaner and fruit picker soon after arriving in Australia. I knew that I would have to get an education in order to do anything else, so I first started school in the last term of Year 10 with very little English. I completed high school and a university degree, and then began work with the Australian Public Service.
In 1969 the small Asian nation of Cambodia was under attack: first by US bombers as the Vietnam war spilled over the border, and then by the Khmer Rouge as they began their brutal reign of terror. Under the rule of Pol Pot, ordinary city folk were driven from their homes and banished to labour camps that eventually saw two million people die. Darkness descended and “Year Zero” had begun.
Mother and the Tiger is the story of one small girl, who struggled to survive one of the most ruthless regimes in human history. Six-year-old Hui Lim was trapped by the madness around her and cast into a seemingly endless nightmare. Her family was cursed as a member of a hated ethnic minority and targeted by the murderous Khmer Rouge. To survive where so many others died, Hui had to tap an inner strength that she never knew she possessed. Despite her youth she was determined to find her scattered family, no matter the odds.
Her memoir of that brutal regime proves that even amidst the blackest depths of human depravity, hope can endure.
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Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG13
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