It’s Meet the Author Monday! Each week we meet a new author and get to know a little about them, their writing process, publishing experience, and tips for other writers. Today we’re talking to Simon Gjeroe, author of Made in China: A Memoir of Marriage and Mixed Babies in the Middle Kingdom.
About Simon Gjeroe:
Simon Rom Gjeroe is a self-confessed nerd when it comes to China and everything Chinese. He has been interested in China since he saw the movie The Last Emperor as a thirteen year old. During his Chinese studies, he spent two years at Sichuan University in Chengdu, where he lived from 1995 to 1998. This is where he also met his future wife, Fu. After graduating in Chinese and Modern East Asian Studies, he moved to Beijing for work, and, after a few years, also married and settled down with Fu and eventually became the proud father of two boys here. A fluent Mandarin speaker, he has lived in China for more than a decade. He has written articles and books on Chinese travel, food, culture, history and politics. This is his third book. He now lives in Denmark where he teaches Chinese Studies and History. The family now also has a daughter, Made in Denmark.
About Made in China:
Simon Gjeroe became a father in China and suddenly had to deal with serious questions: Can you live with your wife if she has not showered for a month? Can you take your wife seriously if she starts wearing X-ray aprons? Do you really have to eat the placenta? In this extraordinary memoir, Simon answers all those questions and many more, highlighting the weird and wonderful world of cross-cultural marriage and parenthood in the Middle Kingdom. Made in China is a humorous narrative that reveals Simon’s love for a country wonderfully full of contradictions and absurdities. He went to China as a language student, married the teacher and made both a family and a new life for himself.
Author Interview with Simon Gjeroe:
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- How long have you been writing?
I have been writing since my early twenties and I’m now 47. I started writing because I thought there was so much to tell others about the magical world of China which opened up to me in the 1990s. First I started writing freelance articles for newspapers and magazines, but then one day when I stumbled across some really magnificent historical posters, old photos and maps from Manchuria, then I said to myself: I will write a book about this. And so I did. It took five years to finish, and it became the book The Call of China. My third and newest book took almost ten years to finish, and it’s called Made in China: A Memoir of Marriage and Mixed Babies in the Middle Kingdom. Maybe I should try and finish them a little quicker, but finding time to write in between a full time job, many talks and three kids, can be a challenge sometimes.
- What books are currently on your bedside table?
I am always reading several books at the same time. Right now I am reading We Have Been Harmonized: Life in China’s Surveillance State, The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China, 1776 to the Present, a Danish history book on the Great Northern War in Europe around 1700, as well as Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward. As is obvious, I generally don’t read that much fiction, and maybe not surprisingly, all the books I have written are also non-fiction.
- What is your favorite childhood book?
My favorite childhood book was one about Christmas pixies and elves and their way of life out in the forests of Scandinavia. It seems that it was only available at my local library during December and it was always like winning the lottery when I found it and took it home and read it again and again in the weeks before Christmas. I haven’t been able to find it since and unfortunately I don’t remember the name anymore.
- What’s your favorite food?
My favorite food is definitely Chinese food from Southwest China as my wife makes it. Sichuan cuisine is renowned for its use of bold flavors; chili, garlic, ginger and Sichuan pepper, which are intensely fragrant, citrusy and causes your tongue to sing and dance and leaves you with a tingling numbness in the mouth a numbing sensation in the mouth, are used liberally throughout the dishes. Both Sichuan and Yunnan cuisine often contains food that has been preserved through pickling, salting and drying, but also has fresh ingredients like the hundreds of different mushrooms which grow in Yunnan (also called Kingdom of Mushrooms), as well as herbs, bees and other insects.
- Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?
At present I am taking up an old book project of mine about a Danish engineer and arms dealer who built up the largest weapon’s factory in the world during the 1920’s for China’s most powerful warlord at the time, Zhang Zuolin. Both the warlord and the engineer himself were both later assassinated. I have all his diaries, photos, videos, articles and many personal artefacts. I am trying to put it together as a good read, which means to write this book more in the style of fiction, but I am still working on how to make that balance. It should not be too difficult as there are many fascinating tales from China during the roaring 1920s, when warlords shifted sides and assassinated each other as often as they changed concubines, and when the majority of expats in Northeast China lived in the lap of luxury. Truly a great story and I cannot wait to get it out and tell the world about it.
To learn more about Simon Gjeroe, here’s where you can find him:
- Website: www.simongjeroe.com