Author launches last work in children's fantasy series

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Award-winning British-Chinese author Hong Ying recently launched her latest book, The Heart of the Rainbow, at the Memory and Urban Fairytales literary event in Beijing.

British-Chinese author Hong Ying recently launches her latest book, The Heart of the Rainbow. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The book marks the finale of her first children's fantasy series, which is set in the 1970s in the fictional kingdom of Ba that's inspired by Chongqing, the author's birthplace by the Yangtze River.

Set in a time before the reform and opening-up, the book, according to Hong Ying, looks at living conditions in a city like Chongqing, "slightly backward compared to Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou, and their (residents') views on beauty or their own lives after living in poverty.

"I don't think we are being nostalgic. Rather, we should present the essence of human life before the great economic change," Hong Ying says.

Featuring the boy protagonist Sangsang, the five-book series explores people's yearnings for love and beauty amid poverty.

Wang Hongqi, a researcher on Chinese culture, says the author uses fairy tales to give both adults and children hope by infusing life with the spiritual power of love.

Chen Xiang from China Reading Weekly says the series weaves fantasy and reality.

"It fascinates me to write stories like this," Hong Ying says. "I need to bring in all aspects of Ba and the reality of the 1970s."

It took her "weeks of thinking" to connect a myth or a fictional animal she was unfamiliar with to the stories while writing the books.

Although Hong Ying says combining fantasy with reality is a tough work, the final product, according to critic Xie Xizhang, shows the author's incredible imagination.

"She can create another space and another scene in fewer than 200 words. I think this is her unique ability to create something out of nothing," Xie says.

Since The Girl from the French Fort, Hong Ying's first children's book and the first of the Sangsang series, was released in 2014, she has written many more books, including Mimidola: The River Child.

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