On my recent visit to Taiwan, I had the honour of visiting Houjia Junior High School in Tainan as a guest of my friend Yi-Hsiang, a high school English teacher. I had a wonderful time meeting Yi-Hsiang’s students to discuss Empire of the Waves, fantasy literature, creative writing and – of course – Australia. For most students, the first thing that came to mind when they thought of Australia was Finding Nemo and the Great Barrier Reef. Another reminder of our responsibility to care for Australia’s waters and aquatic life. The world is watching.
The students loved talking about sea monsters and pirates and were excited to learn about the fantasy world of my novel and to suggest new ideas of their own. Taiwan, of course, has its own storied history with pirates and its own cherished myths and legends of the deep. There is a shrine to the great naval hero Zheng Chenggong (Koxinga) in Tainan and his life is commemorated throughout the city.
The students were eager to practice their English and keen to talk about their own writing projects. There were many book lovers in that classroom and more than a few future literary stars. At the end of the event the students presented me with a Houjia Junior High School jersey and a beautiful card full of messages.
Tainan is one of the loveliest places in Taiwan, rich in cultural and culinary treasures … and a great place to discuss Empire of the Waves. I look forward to visiting again, especially to see my new friends at Houjia Junior High School.