Eliot Pattison has been described as a "writer of faraway mysteries." In the late 1990's he decided to combine his deep concerns for the people of Tibet with his interest in venturing into fiction by writing The Skull Mantra. Winning the Edgar Award for Best First Mystery--and listed as a finalist for best novel for the year in Dublin's prestigious IMPAC awards--The Skull Mantra launched the Inspector Shan series, which now includes Water Touching Stone, Bone Mountain, Beautiful Ghosts, and The Prayer of the Dragon.
From Pattison's Q & A with PBS:
What first moved you about Tibet?--Marshal Zeringue
Here’s a snapshot of my first encounter with Tibet and China: as a longtime student of Buddhism I visited the centuries old Lama Temple in Beijing (long time Tibetan temple used by the emperors) not long after it opened to foreign tourists in the 1980’s. I looked forward to a serene hour or two experiencing the temple, and found a quiet corner to sit in as a ritual was about to begin. A monk entered, then three policemen, then another monk, then three more policemen. When the monks tried to make eye contact with me the police would tap them, none too gently, with their batons. It was wrenching to see this, and a later episode that day when a monk was hit more brutally with a baton because he was apparently not following the official script. I vowed to myself to learn more about the Tibetan experience in China. I have seen more, and worse, examples in traditional Tibet, but it was the experience of that afternoon that launched me on the path to write six novels highlighting the plight of the Tibetans at the hands of the Chinese government.
Who inspired the Inspector Shan character?
Shan, who is like an old friend to me now, is an amalgam of several Chinese of his generation I have known, all intelligent, sensitive, deeply moral people who in the past decades have had to hide, even deny, those qualities just to survive. As I try to demonstrate in my books, the persecution of the Tibetans has...[read on]