I am from the first generation of Chairman Mao’s Red China. I was smuggled out of China when I was 12, at the greatest height of the Chinese famine when it is estimated 15 million people died from starvation over four years, between 1958 and 1962. In the summer of 1962, I was smuggled under fishing junk in a secret tunnel. There were about half a dozen of us and we were smuggled into Hong Kong. That’s how I got out, and from there I eventually came to Australia. Now I write. That’s my pastime. Every morning, I write for a couple of hours before I get to work. I won a few fellowships to Varuna, The Writer’s House in the Blue Mountains, where writers from all over Australia can spend a week or two. It’s a totally quiet place where you just mind your own business, and write. I didn’t write at all until the year 2000. I was quite depressed in 2000 and I thought about stopping practising altogether. But one thing led to another, and I started writing. I think that helped me. I think that saved me.