Book touches on harsh realities

Nanaimo author Diane Bestwick addresses China’s one-child policy.

Diane Bestwick’s 296-page novel And a Bird Sang was published in June.

Diane Bestwick’s 296-page novel And a Bird Sang was published in June.

When a young woman discovers she’s pregnant with her second child, she suddenly finds herself faced with a gut-wrenching decision of having a forced abortion or risk an illegal pregnancy.

That’s the premise behind Nanaimo-based author Diane Bestwick’s book, And a Bird Sang, which was published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform in late June.

“It’s her struggle,” Bestwick said about the book. “The story is not only for a Chinese woman, there is a man’s story through it as well.”

Bestwick, whose cousin is city councillor Bill Bestwick, spent nearly a decade living in China and began writing the book in 2006.

On Friday (Sept. 12), Diane Bestwick will be  speaking about her book and sharing her experiences in China at the Nanaimo Harbourfront Library.

And a Bird Sang focuses on the story of a Chinese woman named Lei, who happens to have a four-year-old child when she learns she’s pregnant, which is illegal under China’s family planning policy.

“The story goes on about her struggles with her own parents, her in-laws and with society and what to do,” Bestwick said.

Bestwick’s adventure to People’s Republic of China, began when she decided to head over and teach for a few months, which turned into an eight-year stay.

“They treated me so well,” Bestwick said about the people in China. “Eventually my colleagues that I worked with and people that I met in the countryside shared their stories with me.”

Bestwick got the idea to create the book while in China and taking online writing classes at Vancouver Island University.

“It could have been about anything,” Bestwick said about her initial idea to create a novel. “But I sensed my colleagues were going through an abortion and there was some sadness around certain things.”

The biggest challenge for Bestwick was ensuring that her storyline would be authentic and at one point questioned writing the book.

“I was so afraid,” Bestwick said. “I am a western woman looking on the outside. Do I even have a right to do this? … If you’re a writer you should be able to get inside people’s minds.”

Bestwick added that she spent countless hours researching and had locals check her work for accuracy and authenticity.

“I had so many people, male and female, in China and here [in Canada] make sure that it wasn’t my imagination,”she said. “I am calling it an authentic novel … and I have yet to hear someone say ‘this is not a true story Diane.’”

She speaks at the Harbourfront library on Friday (Sept. 13) at 6:30 p.m. For more information visit www.virl.bc.ca/event/and-bird-sang-author-event and for info on And a Bird Sang, please visit www.amzn.to/1xqwPJw. For additional information on Bestwick please visit www.dianebestwick.wordpress.com

arts@nanaimobulletin.comTwitter: @npescod