Ask an Author – Sally Rippin

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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