Snapshots

Behind the Scenes:  Beijing Abduction

 TSC Security Consultants, Ltd. Beijing

 Ronald ZHAO, Partner at TSC Security Consultants Ltd. Beijing, is Mai’s bodyguard and lover from the first book, Beijing Abduction.  The antagonistic forces continue to separate the lovers who struggle to reunite just to be separated again.  He's the handsome martial arts expert hired by Mai Martin in August of 2011 when she was stalked by the university security.  


ExcerptBeijing Abduction Ch 2 p 89

October 4         To Mai From: Ron        No Subject

Hello Mai, are you busy on 10/1 holiday? If you are in town would you like to get together? I have motorcycle, want to take ride?

Kismet. She does, and Ron picks her up in a 1957 vintage Russian M72 bike with a sidecar. She hadn’t seen anything like it before. People in the neighborhood stare at them as she climbs into the little compartment. He hands her a modern helmet and tucks a blanket around her legs. She thinks, Ron looks dashing, dressed in blue denim jeans and a black leather jacket, a white turtle-necked tee shirt underneath.

“You’re going to want this,” he says, producing a woman’s leather jacket out of a side compartment.

Merging onto the freeway heading west, there’s not much traffic. The holiday has emptied the big city. While everyone crowds into airports and train stations to visit notable sites, Ron flies under overpasses in search of the less-visited, charming neighborhoods in the far reaches of Beijing Province. The villages here still look much like they did before the modern era, with cobblestone lanes winding around hillsides perched next to lakes bobbing with boats.

The sun is over their shoulder, lighting up the Western Hills. Ron exits the big highway. Looking at her beside him in the sidecar, Mai flashes him a big, movie star smile. He can’t see her face well behind the helmet, but he can feel the warmth growing in his chest. They ride along next to a big canal, a man-made feature of the land and testimony to the advanced technology possessed by the ancient Chinese people. On the other side is a communal farm; stands dot the lane selling eggs and pears. His legs need a stretch, so he stops at one.

“What a good idea to come out here on a ride, Ron,” Mai says, ducking out of the helmet. He offers his hand to help haul her out of the seat. A brief flash of electricity passes between their fingers.

“Ouch!” she says, looking at his smiling face, warm eyes with little crinkles at the corners. “I brought that 15 thousand yuan with me I owe TSC,” she adds.

“Good, we can now afford pears,” he teases. “These pears are the best, do you want some?” he asks. They’re lined up in perfect rows with boxes of Chinese dates or Ziziphus jujube, and baskets of fresh eggs. The Pyrus x bretschneideri is not to be confused with the more common Asian pear. The Chinese white pear is a regional specialty, a natural hybrid species, native to northern China near Beijing. It’s very juicy with light flesh and shaped like a European pear, refreshing and juicy with low sugar content.

Leaning back on the seat of his bike, stretching his long legs and munching on a juicy fruit, he recalls the last night in the back seat of his car—how she wrapped her arms around him, and the feeling of his skin against hers in the moonlight.

Standing with the sun in her face, feeling its warmth, she remembers their last night together, too—lying in the back of the Buick Park Avenue while he played around with her sweater and brassiere, finally getting his mouth onto her nipples and sucking hard on them.

“Who runs these fruit stands?” she wants to know.

“Peasants from the commune farm over there,” says Ron, gesturing to a large area of fields dotted with buildings on the other side of the canal. “They can make money now.”

Mai’s attention drifts to the bucolic scene on the other side of the road. Standing a meter apart, Ron fights an urge to grasp her around her waist. 

“This ancient canal was built to bring water to the palace gardens, even ultimately to Beijing University. You know, the university is built on the grounds of the Summer Palace residence of the last several emperors.”

Dui, I knew that. But I didn’t know where the water came from. On campus, the canals are lined with concrete. The carved stone balustrade is beautiful, and the way the willow trees hang over the still water … I’ve photographed it many times.”

“There’s a village near here on a lake. We can stop there for lunch if you like,” he offers, thinking about a hostel he knows with a beautifully terraced garden and rooms to rent.


Purchase Wounds of Attachment here.

 

ShaLi reads excerpts from Wounds of Attachment, book two in the American in Beijing series. Fans meet EuSun the assassin, Lt. Guan or du Lang, his gang moniker, who changes sides and goes underground or Dong, the Beijing gangster in an explosive scene where EuSun dominates the gang with a dragon claw punch, pushing Dong's face into the broken glass and beer puddle.
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THE MAIN CHARACTER MAI MARTIN

Mai Martin's LiNai apartment situated opposite the guard shack and adjacent to the gate and hutong.

Mai Martin's LiNai apartment situated opposite the guard shack and adjacent to the gate and hutong.

In the An American in Beijing series, Mai Martin is a Generation Y child of the 70s who marries her Berkeley university, moves to Mendocino, California, after the dot com bust and casts about looking or interesting work.  She finds a job at a Beijing university and relocates there as the story begins.

She is subject to extreme cyber harassment and spying as a result of work assignments and her personal projects. 

Conflict moves from remote, over the internet, to physical and intimate. 

We are exposed to cyber warfare every time we go online, in our work and in our private lives.  We can identify with Mai as she struggles.  We worry that she is far from help in the US and is on her own in China, where 'no one will help her,' she has been warned.

Female characters in political thriller genre are usually minor and dropped in here and there strategically when shocking sex will enliven an otherwise dull story.  Mai doesn't swear and doesn't engage in constant intimacy.  She recruits others to her side and directs the action strategically. 

At the beginning, she passively allows things to happen to her, annoy her, distract her, take over her internet communications, photograph and study her.  The reader may question her choices.  Is she morally degenerate or just lonely?

EXCERPT  BEIJING ABDUCTION CH 3 p 168

The rooms the traffickers rented in the siheyuan extend east, just inside the wall separating the campus from the new apartments on Chengfu Road. The men struggle to drag Rick’s body into and through a train of adjoining rooms to the last one. This choice of a hideout, near the LiNai Apartments, was perfect for surveilling Rick and Mai. Now that they have the captive, they remove plywood covering another door in the last room, leading to a vacant storage shed on the corner of the hutong directly beneath Mai’s apartment and adjacent to the car gate. They throw him on a mattress in the cold room and shut him in alone. He lies there, not moving, breathing irregularly. A black bag covers his head. His powerful arms are tied behind with zip ties, as are his ankles. His mouth is taped shut.

The rooms the traffickers rented in the siheyuan extend east, just inside the wall separating the campus from the new apartments on Chengfu Road. The men struggle to drag Rick’s body into and through a train of adjoining rooms to the last one.

This choice of a hideout, near the LiNai Apartments, was perfect for surveilling Rick and Mai. Now that they have the captive, they remove plywood covering another door in the last room, leading to a vacant storage shed on the corner of the hutong directly beneath Mai’s apartment and adjacent to the car gate. They throw him on a mattress in the cold room and shut him in alone.

He lies there, not moving, breathing irregularly. A black bag covers his head. His powerful arms are tied behind with zip ties, as are his ankles. His mouth is taped shut.

Purchase Beijing Abduction here.


The face behind the book cover design

“The face haunted me and I sought relief in painting it and then putting it away," says Petty.  

“The face haunted me and I sought relief in painting it and then putting it away," says Petty.  

"The diagrams are imagined by artists before they are created, discovered or understood.  They are a technology precursor," says artist Cheryl Petty.  In the case of the image of Mai Martin, the main character in An American in Beijing political thriller series by Sha Li, the ‘Mai painting’ was created years before Cheryl Petty sold the Window Box Bonsai Accents and Art Gallery on Sacramento Avenue of the Arts in Dunsmuir, California in 2011.  It was before her first trip to China in 2010.  

Later in 2012, she destroyed the face further through the process of imaginative dissociation, an extreme deconstruction symbolizing a state of disintegration and used it in the painting Point of Convergence Disassociation. At this time, Petty was influenced by Gustav Klimt’s iconic painting, ‘Adele Bloch-Bauer Li.’

Cheryl Petty, Point of Convergence Disassociation

Cheryl Petty, Point of Convergence Disassociation

Simultaneously, the character Mai Martin emerged and took on more human characteristics.  “In a way, she resembles Clarissa Ward, the CBS foreign correspondent,” says Petty.  “Especially the qualities of adventure combined with a serious composure.”

She is subject to extreme cyber harassment and spying as a result of work assignments and her personal projects. 

Conflict moves from remote, over the internet, to physical and intimate. 

We are exposed to cyber warfare every time we go online, in our work and in our private lives.  We can identify with Mai as she struggles.  We worry that she is far from help in the US and is on her own in China, where 'no one will help her,' she has been warned.

Female characters in political thriller genre are usually minor and dropped in here and there strategically when shocking sex will enliven an otherwise dull story.  Mai doesn't swear and doesn't engage in constant intimacy.  She recruits others to her side and directs the action strategically. 

Gustav Klimt, Adele Bloch Bauer Li

Gustav Klimt, Adele Bloch Bauer Li

At the beginning, she passively allows things to happen to her, annoy her, distract her, take over her internet communications, photograph and study her.  The reader may question her choices.  Is she morally degenerate or just lonely?

Purchase Beijing Abduction here.

Clarissa Ward, CBS

Clarissa Ward, CBS

Linda Price translated these images into the distinctive cover design with bold and tertiary colors in geometric bands, accented with the Chinese characters for each title.

Linda Price translated these images into the distinctive cover design with bold and tertiary colors in geometric bands, accented with the Chinese characters for each title.

Second in the series An American in Beijing, 'Wounds of Attachment' ratchets up the stakes on Mai Martin, an American woman working in Beijing. This political thriller twists loss and power, smuggling and vengeance, and the forces of sovereign nations with individual integrity. Who is watching for her and follows to the train station?