I love Graeme Hall’s writing for his vivid characters and his subtle motifs. The worlds he weaves are immersive and transport a reader into escapism. Therefore, I was excited to hear about his latest release, which will be his debut novel, ‘On Borrowed Time’.
On Borrowed Time is set in Hong Kong and Shanghai over the period 1996/1997 – including the handover of Hong Kong to China. The novel explores the choices that people have to make; in particular between doing what is easy and what is right. Pre-orders for January 11th 2021 can be found here for Kindle. Today we are revealing the gorgeous front cover and giving you a preview of what it is inside!
More About The Book:
In Hong Kong, Emma Janssen discovers the truth behind the death of her brother four years earlier. Meanwhile, in Shanghai, a PhD student meets a woman with an unusual degree of interest in his research. These storylines converge at the time of the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, and Emma finds that she has to choose between revenge or the future happiness and safety of both herself and those close to her.
While being a work of fiction, On Borrowed Time is rooted in the author’s own experiences of living and working in Hong Kong from 1993 to 2010, in particular the final years of British rule and the transfer of sovereignty back to China.
About the author
Graeme lived in Hong Kong from 1993 to 2010 and still keeps a close connection to the city. His first novel was set in Hong Kong and Shanghai over the period 1996/97 and most of his writing comes from his love of that part of the world. Graeme first visited Macau in 1993 and he quickly became fascinated by the oldest European settlement in Asia. His short story collection, ‘The Goddess of Macau’ was published in August 2020 by Fly on the Wall Press.
He has won the short story competitions of the Macau Literary Festival and the Ilkley Literature Festival, and his writing has been published in anthologies by Black Pear Press and the Macau Literary Festival.He is an active member of the Leeds Writers Circle whose members have been a constant source of advice, support and encouragement. Graeme lives in Calderdale, West Yorkshire with his wife and a wooden dog.
‘How are you finding it here? In China?’ Susan asked a few days after Christmas. They were sitting on a bench by the athletics track, taking a break after a morning run; a common interest, they’d discovered. Kwok-wah and Susan were spending an increasing amount of time together. Kwok-wah wasn’t sure what the definition of a date was, and whether they had been on a date or not, but they had explored some of the bars and cheaper restaurants they could afford on their monthly allowances.
The day was cool, if not as cold as it recently had been; overcast and the air damp and heavy. Susan took a swig from the water bottle she was carrying and offered it to Kwok-wah.
‘Is it what you expected?’ she continued. ‘Compared with Hong Kong.’
‘I don’t know. I don’t know that I’d given it any thought. I don’t know what I expected. What do you make of the place? I mean it must be even stranger for you than it is for me. You know … coming from the States.’
Susan laughed. ‘Oh my God, you’ve no idea how weird China is to an American – even when you’re Chinese. It freaks me out sometimes. I mean, I’ve done a bit of travelling around Southeast Asia but China is still something else.’
‘What do you miss most about home?’
‘Pretty much everything! The food for a start. I’d kill for a plate of pancakes with maple syrup. Or just hanging round the mall with my friends. Driving along the Pacific Highway in a convertible with the top down. The weather. Especially the weather … or, to be more precise, the air. I mean’ – Susan was getting into her stride – ‘when did we last see the sun? It’s just day after day of this horrible grey smog. Except when it’s raining, of course. Then it’s just wet.’
‘And yet you’re here?’
‘And yet I’m here.’ Susan smiled. ‘Well it’s not all bad, of course, and like I said it’s got to be good experience for my career. But we weren’t talking about me. What about you? What would you be doing now if you were in Hong Kong?’
‘Much the same as here mostly. I’d play basketball. Chat with friends. Go see movies. Mostly though I’d be doing something on the computer. Playing games, writing programs. That sort of thing. Go to the Golden Shopping Arcade.’
‘I didn’t have you down as a shopping addict.’
‘It’s not a regular mall. It’s a place devoted to computers and so on, there are loads of little shops selling all the latest stuff.’
‘Ah … I see. You’re passionate about your subject, aren’t you? I like that. I don’t think I am. For me it’s just a way to a job, but I really like the way you’re so into it. I really do. It’s cool.’
‘Cool? People normally call me a geek, but I just want to do my research.’
‘And is it going well?’
‘It’s okay, I guess.’ Kwok-wah hesitated before going further. If he was honest with himself, he had been feeling a little dissatisfied with things for a while, but he wasn’t sure he could identify exactly what was wrong. He was making progress with the research, considering it was early days, but he was largely ignored by the rest of the department and felt rather isolated.
‘You sound unsure?’
‘Perhaps I expected too much.’
‘In what way?’
‘I don’t know … I think I expected to spend more time with Professor Ye. After all, he was the reason I came here in the first place.’
‘Isn’t he very helpful?’
‘Oh, he’s great,’ said Kwok-wah, backtracking, anxious not to bad-mouth his professor. ‘I just wish he was around more often. He’s often away or in meetings. He has a lot of visitors, which means his door is often shut all afternoon. It can be hard to pin him down and get him to spend some time with me. But then, like I say, perhaps that’s just me expecting too much from him. After all, I’m just a lowly PhD student, not some general or whatever.’
If you have enjoyed this extract, let us know in the comments! Make a note of Graeme Hall’s January release for ‘On Borrowed Time’…
On ‘The Goddess of Macau’:
“There is a subtlety to Graeme’s writing, which is characterised by a sensitivity to the nuances of character and setting. His stories unfold in a lyrical, understated style – a literary equivalent of pointillism.”
– Dr Rachel Connor, novelist, dramatist and Lecturer, Leeds Beckett University
Twitter: #OnBorrowedTime @hongkonggraeme