Author: Christine M. Merritt, Ph.D.
Page count: 281pp
Merritt is English, educated at British universities, a classical Zoologist B.Sc. HONS -Westfield College, Univ. of London with a M.Sc. from the School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool University. Liverpool was the first university in the world to teach tropical medicine and British doctors train there before they can practice in the tropics. My dissertation was on fish parasites. My Ph.D. thesis at Brunel University in London was on circadian rhythms of Anopheles gambiae, the malaria mosquito.
In the States I have done research at the University of California-Berkeley in biological control and insect pathology. Also, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison I held a variety of positions that included postdoctoral research, teaching and also business where I developed a spin-off company from the university to commercialize a brief test to screen for environmental chemical contaminants that affect reproduction and development in both humans and wildlife. I also taught a course on medical entomology to undergraduates, and also at a small liberal arts college outside Milwaukee. However, a position opened up in China to teach parasitology, so nearly two years were spent in Suzhou teaching parasitology to international students 18-19 year olds who came to China for a medical degree. There were over 800 international students from India, Indonesia, Africa, Pakistan, Canada, Russia, Sri Lanka and the USA. The Chinese told me I was the first westerner ever to teach in a medical school in mainland China.
Tell us about your book:
Chris Merritt spent nearly two years teaching parasitology to international students in the Medical School at Soochow University, Suzhou. The Chinese told her she was the first westerner ever to teach in a medical school in mainland China. She was also the only foreign faculty member on campus. This opportunity provided her with an inside look at daily life for Chinese students, their thinking, hopes and dreams, social issues, family life, the Communist Party and much more. She traveled in search of ancient China and her travels took her to Miao villages in the mountains, eco-museums in Guizhou, Confucius’s birthplace and people living in caves. She found the Chinese to be a warm, generous hearted people with a great sense of humour who invited her to stay with their families in their hometowns. Merritt lived, shopped and ate with the Chinese and they shared their family histories, sexual orientation, love life and the wonderful myths and legends of China.
How long did it take to write the book?
Too long as I only had weekends to write. My day job interfered.
What inspired you to write the book?
Being in China
Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
I needed long stretches of time to write – think and process so could only work at weekends.
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
A different perspective of China.
Where can we go to buy your book?
Amazon and Barnes and Noble E-Books
Excerpt from book:
CHAPTER 1. – Once Upon a Time in China Zhōnghuá 中国.
Once upon a time, in the very beginning, all was chaos. A black cosmic egg emerged out of the darkness, containing Pangu curled up inside. Eventually Pangu awoke from his deep slumber, stretched out his limbs and cracked open the egg. The light part of the egg floated upwards and became the heavens. The heavier half of the egg, the yolk, remained below and formed the earth. Pangu stood in- between, the top of his head gracing the heavens, legs astride, his sturdy feet placed firmly on the earth. Every day, Pangu grew ten feet for 18,000 years, keeping the sky and earth apart with his body, now 9 million *lǐ in height 30,000 miles apart so that they would never join again.
Pangu’s life was very long but he finally died, lying with his head to the east, feet to the west horizon. His head is now the territory of the impressive Shandong Taishan Mountain; his toes overturned is now the peak of Huashan Mountain in Shaanxi Province; his belly up tall is now the peak of Songshan Mountain in Henan Province; his left arm in the south is now the territory of the Hengshan mountain ranges in Hunan Province; his right arm in the north side of the body is now the Northern Hengshan mountain in Shanxi Province.
The sun and the moon were born from his two eyes. Roads lacing across the land grew from his veins and his muscles became fertile land. His long beard produced numerous stars to light up the sky. His skin, hair and fine body hairs were changed into the land of trees and flowers. Jade and pearls came from his marrow. Sweat from his brow, of all his labours turned to fine rain and morning dew that nurtured the plants and insects. Tears of joy flowed into the rivers and the radiance and brightness of his eyes turned into thunder and lightning. The sun shone brightly when he was happy, but black clouds hung in the sky when he was angry. Some say he is still responsible for the weather, which changes according to his mood. The parasites on his body, the lice and the fleas, fertilized by the wind, became the ancestors of human beings.
It is said that Pangu’s image can still be seen in a cave cherished by the Miao tribe in the Mountains of Kuangsi