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Writers Inspiring Change feature book review: Catskinner

The Catskinner, by Ross Clarke, (pen-name rcheydn) is a novel on a par with Ken Follett. In this story, Hong Kong is on the cusp of passing legislation that will change the course of its history, as the thriving metropolis, built on trade, capitalism and democracy for over a century, now faces a change of guard with Britain returning the region to China, a communist master. Clarke, a former journalist who tamped the streets of Hong Kong in his career, not only in journalism but as a public relations consultant to politicians and diplomats, betrays his intense knowledge of the region. The descriptive verses depict Hong Kong with such vivid color and tangible mental-perception, that one feels the grime and filth which sits juxtaposition to the luxury and wealth; one senses the vibrant awakenings as day breaks, as the streets suddenly fill with vendors, tourists, a literal throng of humanity. In this story, truly a suspenseful thriller, the author takes the very real and historical happenings of that time, as over five million people await the decisions that will not only affect their lives, but the lives of their children for generations to come, and casts the reader on a thrill ride, following the Catskinner, a brutal murderer and madman intent on exacting his vengeance. The story is meaty, and well-developed. The characters are real and relatable, and one certainly feels their pain and frustration as the pages march on. Clarke's writing is mature and animated, spiced with wonderful metaphors and descriptive phraseology that paints pictures in one's mind and forces one to read on in order to find out what happens. The Catskinner is highly recommended for readers of thrillers, suspense, mystery and crime.

Review by International Writers Inspiring Change

About Ross Clarke

Today we interview Ross Clarke, author, journalist and public relations adviser.

IWIC: Tell us about yourself. Ross: My name is Ross Clarke however I write under the pen-name “Rcheydn” which doesn’t confine me to a single genre of writing. I worked as a journalist for newspapers and magazines throughout Europe, Australia and the Far East for a decade before switching to public relations. For the next thirty years I was a senior PRO in the United Kingdom, Australia and, for almost 20 of those years, in Hong Kong. I then established my own hub-communications agency in London where I now live and work. My interests in writing include political thrillers, crime, young fantasy and humor (though some might question that!)

My latest book is The Catskinner – a fiction novel set amid actual events in Hong Kong in the 1980’s when the colony was bracing itself for the handover to China near the end of the century. My other books include:

Keepers of The Deep is a story especially written for young people; a fantasy land and tale of wonder and friendship. The Feathers is a crime story set in London. It is written around a serial killer and the police officer tracking him down – with interference from a quizzical newspaper reporter. TheGoodReadWipe was my first attempt in humor books. Fred Nurk’s idea is pure fiction, perhaps fantasy. But maybe someone should actually try it. The Jade Buddha is a crime story which starts in Hong Kong but moves to London and Amsterdam.

IWIC: What prompted you to become a writer? Ross: It began with Keepers of The Deep, a book that grew out of my telling stories to my son soon after he was born. My wife suggested I write down each story. It developed into one long fantasy which eventually some years later became Keepers of The Deep. Since then, as a professional journalist and public relations adviser, I have enjoyed penning other novels.

IWIC: What do readers like about your writing? Ross: The crime stories appeal to readers because they are said to be thrilling and “page turning”. The fantasy for young readers reminded reviewers of Enid Blyton and Peter Pan style stories. The Catskinner is an historical fiction which has been praised for its authenticity as well as its excitement. Finally, TheGoodReadWipe has been reviewed as “a giggle” – which it was intended to be.

IWIC: What is it that you want to inspire in others or change in the world through your writing? Ross: I want my readers to be excited by the story and interested in the writing style. Above all I want my books to inspire people to read more.

IWIC: Tell us about your most recent book and why you wrote it? Ross: My most recent book is The Catskinner. I spent about 20 years in Hong Kong as a journalist and then as public relations adviser to various government departments and the Executive and Legislative Councils (the Cabinet and Parliament). Between 1973 and 1997 it was a very challenging time for Hong Kong people. Based on my experience I decided to write a political thriller centered around actual events leading up to the handover of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China.

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