I’m delighted to welcome to my blog for the first time, author Lee Kaiser. Lee has written a really interesting account of her travels some years ago in Tibet, which inspired her debut novel, Sutra of the Pearl. This part of the world is close to my heart, and I hope you will enjoy reading Lee’s words as much as I did.
So, over to you, Lee.
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When I took these photos of Tibet in the mid-eighties, I was travelling the globe on a shoestring. Little did I know they would one day inspire my first novel, Sutra of the Pearl, and feature on my author website. Not only was I not a writer yet, but the internet hadn’t been invented!
Those were the days when you could get by on practically nothing if you were willing to put up with questionable public toilets and inevitable delays and detours. My bed for the night was sometimes the back of a truck going over a mountain pass, or a beach, or an overgrown median along a freeway. It was safer back then for lone female travellers.
It took me almost a week to reach Tibet via China buses and trains. Bussing out via Nepal was no picnic either due to hiking around washouts. Tibet was still quite backward and untouristed.
There were no paved roads and no hotels, only basic guesthouses for hippy travellers like myself.
There were no coffee-houses, just rough restaurants and Tibetan teahouses serving one thing: Yak butter tea.
Many decades after my shoestring travels, I spent a winter in India working with a veterinary nurse caring for the street dogs.
I came back to Canada and started to write as therapy to clear the severe stress of that experience. At the same time, I was reading about a real-life 19th century Russian explorer who had discovered a scroll in Tibet that placed Jesus in India during his childhood. Those two experiences morphed into my novel about a travel writer in India on a search for a lost Biblical scroll at a Himalayan monastery. My fascination with Tibet and its deeply spiritual Buddhist population had never left me. Pilgrims will walk days to visit the Potala Palace and pay homage to the Sutras stored there.
In fact, I myself had become a practising Buddhist by the time I started to write. With my newfound knowledge, my old photos now held a special place in my heart. This, coupled with having been to Tibetan monasteries helped me to write my scenes
Unfortunately the signs of China’s attacks on Tibetan monasteries and its monks during the cultural revolution were still visible in the eighties.
China’s attempts to suppress Tibet’s religion were still ongoing at the time I was there. I missed one such violent protest by only days. Since then, I’ve turned down an opportunity to return to a children’s orphanage in Lhasa run by Canadians, but I choose to keep my memories of Tibet untouched by the Chinese occupation.
Lee’s first novel, Sutra of the Pearl, takes place in India.
A young travel writer faces an impossible choice between avenging her brother’s murder or winning her mother’s approval. In India to search for a priceless scroll which could bring her fame, she finds her answer. This is the first fictionalized account of the incredible 1887 discovery of a Buddhist manuscript which places Jesus in India during his youth.
In the modern chaos and corruption of India, the travel writer lands in jail falsely accused of terrorism. Her Big Oil boyfriend and his powerful Indian family can spring her and smuggle her out of the country, but with a history as dark and violent as her own, she must first turn her back on hard-won liberal ideals. Even worse, it could destroy any chance of finding the precious scroll.
Learn more about Lee’s novels here: https://leekaiserauthor.com/womens-fiction/
Lee Kaiser, a Canadian writer of women’s fiction intrigue, sets her novels in locations around the world such as India, Nepal, and Europe. A former journalist she now writes full-time and is based between Canada, Mexico, and Greece.