Ask an Author – Sally Rippin

June 30, 2009


Sally Rippin is an Australian author and illustrator. Most of the books are for children, but she has written YA novels, including Chenxi and the Foreigner. 🙂

1. What inspired you to write and rewrite Chenxi and the Foreigner?

The novel was inspired by my time as an art student in China in the late 80s, early 90s. I wanted to record my experience there but I find writing fiction much more enjoyable that straight memoir because I can exaggerate the drama and conflict to create an interesting story.

2. What do you love about Shanghai?

There is lots to love about Shanghai, but the Shanghai of today is nothing like the place I lived in nearly twenty years ago. Now it is a shining modern metropolis. When I lived there the tallest building was only twenty stories high. Obviously I am very attached to the old Shanghai of my student days but I imagine it’s an easier place to live now.

3. About how much of Chenxi and the Foreigner is based on your experiences?

Everything I write begins from somewhere inside me. There is lots of Chenxi and the Foreigner based on my own experience but obviously I added drama to make it more interesting. Now, my novel feels so real to me I often forget which were the true bits and which bits I made up!

4. What is one thing you would like people to know about the Chinese?

They’re not so different to us. I think people would find that true about any nationality and culture once they got to know people as individuals. Humans are basically humans all over the world, no matter what they speak, eat, wear or who they pray to.

5. What was it like moving between countries as a child?

I didn’t have anything to compare it to, and most of the kids in the international schools I went to had pretty much the same experience, so it wasn’t until we returned to Australia that I began to feel different. But I was also a teenager by then and I think many teenagers go through a stage of feeling different even if they’ve spent their whole lives in one place.

6. How did you decide to be an author?

I have always written and illustrated, even when I was a child. I had a very inspiring year 8 English teacher in Hong Kong, who used to read my stories out in class. I think he used to really inspire me to keep writing

7. Are you working on any upcoming YA novels?

Yes! I am very excited about my new novel, but as it is still being read by my publisher Text Publishing here in Australia, I don’t want to jinx it by talking about it too soon! It’s something very different for me…

8. Is there anything else you would like to add?

It’s really exciting to be read by an audience outside of Australia, Krista, so thanks for your support! And all the best for your blog. It’s really great.

Thank you for participating. 🙂 If you have would like to find out more about Sally Rippin, then visit her website.

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In My Mailbox June 22-27

June 28, 2009

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi of The Story Siren. For more information, go here. Also, I’d like to remind you all of the Book Pile Contest and the Suite Scarlett Giveaway I am having. Be sure to enter!

Giving Up the V – Serena Robar
Spencer Davis just turned sixteen. But unlike most hormonal teenagers who seem obsessed with sex — like her entire crew of friends — Spencer just doesn’t get it. She’d rather wait for the right guy and the right moment. But that moment may be arriving sooner than she’d thought.

Enter Benjamin Hopkins, a new transfer student who seems to have his eyes on our V-card-carrying heroine. He’s gorgeous, funny, suave, athletic, and capable of making Spencer’s knees wobble with a single glance. Spencer has never felt this way about anyone before, but is Ben truly V-worthy?


Girl Stays in the Picture – Melissa de la Cruz

June 27, 2009

Devon is the latest teen music superstar. Now, she plans to start an acting career by starring in the film Juicy. Juicy is produced by the famous Sol Romero. Romero’s daughter Livia has just had gastric bypass surgery and is ready to start her new life. However, the success of Juicy becomes questionable when Devon’s party lifestyle lands her a spot in rehab. The studio execs are not sure if Devon is the right person to make this film successful. In comes Summer Garland, another teen music star, who will play Juicy’s best friend. Along with Summer comes her assistant, Casey, an ordinary girl from Alabama.

Girl Stays in the Picture is a fun summer read. The greatest strength of the book lies in the characters. Cruz gave each character his or her own distinctive qualities. Out of the four main girls, Casey, Livia, and Devon were all very likable. Summer was also an interesting character. She was the novel’s evil girl. A book about Hollywood just would not be complete without a character who would do anything to reach stardom, right? My favorite thing about the novel was how the media portrayed Devon and Summer. Towards the beginning, the media embraces Summer as a replacement for the party girl Devon. As the story progresses, readers learn what Devon and Summer are really like, and how the media can skew things. As for the guys in the story, most of them were drool-worthy, particularly, Jamie, a British actor, and Bruno, a local French boy.

Other than the characters, I also enjoyed the setting. The story takes place in the exotic Saint Tropez in Southern France. The setting helped give the story a more of an elite Hollywood feel. The story ends on a major cliffhanger, which honestly frustrated me, but I will definitely read the sequel.


Youtube Connection 4

June 25, 2009

Every Thursday, I will post a youtube video that is somehow connected to a book I’ve read. This week, I’ve also added a Mr. Linky for anyone that would like to participate! I would love to see your book/video connections, and I’m sure many others would like to also 🙂

This week’s novel is The Luxe. As my video, I chose a fanmade trailer. It’s really fun seeing scenes from other movies fit perfectly with The Luxe.

Another fanmade trailer I really like is this one. I actually liked this one better than the one above, but embedding it is disabled.


Chenxi and the Foreigner – Sally Rippin

June 24, 2009

After finishing high school, Anna is given the opportunity to spend the summer in Shanghai with her father, a businessman. In Shanghai, Anna takes art classes at a local university. While her father prefers to mingle only with other foreigners, Anna wants to see China from a Chinese perspective. However, doing this is difficult because Anna does not speak Mandarin and does not blend in at all. People commonly stare and say, “wai guo ren,” or foreigner. Worst of all, Anna only seems to complicate the life of her translator, Chenxi. Chenxi is a radical artist, making him a threat to the Chinese government. Soon, Anna learns exactly how repressive China can be.

Chenxi and the Foreigner is a wonderful read. The story takes place in the late 1980s, right before the Tianenmen Square incident. This time period allowed Rippin to give the novel a deeper meaning than just “a story about a girl that visits China in the summer.” Instead, the novel addresses the limits of freedom in China, and how anyone with freedom should not take it for granted. In a way this is a very timely meaning, especially with everything that is going on in Iran. In the novel’s afterword, Rippin discusses that when the first time Chenxi and the Foreigner was written, she was afraid of what what parents, teachers, and librarians would think of the novel. As a result, she ended up self-censoring herself and cut out sex scenes and politics. Luckily, Rippin was given the opportunity to rewrite the novel, and as a result, Chenxi and the Foreigner is not only an enjoyable read, but an important one.

If there’s one thing that I disliked about the novel, it occurs towards the end up the novel when the story takes a surprise turn. In a way, this turn kind of seemed like an easy way out, but overall it did not really affect my opinion of the novel. However, I can see other readers disliking it.


Suite Scarlett Giveaway

June 22, 2009

I am hosting a contest for 5 paperback copies of Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson!

Her new summer job comes with baggage.

Scarlett Martin has grown up in a most unusual way. Her family owns the Hopewell, a small hotel in the heart of New York City, and Scarlett lives there with her four siblings – Spencer, Lola, and Marlene.

When each of the Martins turns fifteen, they are expected to take over the care of a suite in the once elegant, now shabby Art Deco hotel. For Scarlett’s fifteenth birthday, she gets both a room called the Empire Suite, and a permanent guest called Mrs. Amberson.

Scarlett doesn’t quite know what to make of this C-list starlet, world traveler, and aspiring autobiographer who wants to take over her life. And when she meets Eric, an astonishingly gorgeous actor who has just moved to the city, her summer takes a second unexpected turn.

Before the summer is over, Scarlett will have to survive a whirlwind of thievery, Broadway glamour, romantic missteps, and theatrical deceptions. But in the city where anything can happen, she just might be able to pull it off.

To enter, tell me what you have done/plan to do this summer! +1 if you link this contest. The deadline to enter is July 17. Winners will be announced July 18.

EDIT: I forgot to mention this earlier, but this contest is US only. Sorry, I promise I will have an international contest soon!

For more information on the book, visit the amazon page or Maureen Johnson’s site. 🙂


In My Mailbox June 15-20

June 21, 2009

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi of The Story Siren. Also, be sure to enter my contest for a chance to win two books. 😉

Suite Scarlett – Maureen Johnson
Her new summer job comes with baggage.

Scarlett Martin has grown up in a most unusual way. Her family owns the Hopewell, a small hotel in the heart of New York City, and Scarlett lives there with her four siblings – Spencer, Lola, and Marlene.

When each of the Martins turns fifteen, they are expected to take over the care of a suite in the once elegant, now shabby Art Deco hotel. For Scarlett’s fifteenth birthday, she gets both a room called the Empire Suite, and a permanent guest called Mrs. Amberson.

Scarlett doesn’t quite know what to make of this C-list starlet, world traveler, and aspiring autobiographer who wants to take over her life. And when she meets Eric, an astonishingly gorgeous actor who has just moved to the city, her summer takes a second unexpected turn.

Before the summer is over, Scarlett will have to survive a whirlwind of thievery, Broadway glamour, romantic missteps, and theatrical deceptions. But in the city where anything can happen, she just might be able to pull it off.

Gruber’s Complete SAT Guide 2008 – Gary Gruber

For more than 30 years, Dr. Gary Gruber has been the leading authority on testing and test preparation—his Gruber Method has helped thousands of students develop critical thinking skills, dramatically boosting their scores on standardized tests. Now in its 11th edition, Gruber’s Complete SAT Guide is the best and most effective complete study guide for students tackling the most important test of their lives.

Can you tell what I plan to do the next few months? 😉