Meet Kate, the main character of “The Orchid Tree”

For this blog tour I am delighed to introduce Kate, the main character of The Orchid Tree, which will be published on 15th February and is available to pre-oder from Amazon.

The Orchid Tree Cover MEDIUM WEB

1. What is the name of your main character? Is she fictional?

Kate Wolseley is a fictional character, although I’ve given her the physical characteristics of my mother at her age.

Ronnie in swimsuit2. When and where is the story set?

Colonial Hong Kong between 1941-1945 and from 1948-1949. My grandparents were interned by the Japanese during WWII. The idea for “The Orchid Tree” came to me when I was researching their life behind barbed wire in the Stanley Civilian Internment Camp. My father joined the Chinese Maritime Customs after his demob from the Royal Navy, and his experiences chasing smugglers up and down the South China Coast inspired the start of Part 2. I wanted to bring alive a time and place that no longer exist, and I hope my knowledge of the era lends an authenticity to my writing that readers will enjoy.



Rickshaw puller

4. What should we know about Kate?

I don’t want to give away the story, so I’ll keep this brief. Kate has lived a pampered existence, in a house full of servants, at the pinnacle of pre-war Hong Kong society. Spoiled by her father, but lacking the attention of her mother, she finds comfort in the love of her Chinese amah (nanny). Her background is typical “stiff upper lip” British, except Kate is more open than her parents. As a result of her over-protected upbringing, she’s young for her age, which is fifteen at the start of the novel.


4. What is the main conflict?

Initially, WWII. Kate is interned with her parents in a squalid camp and has to endure cramped conditions, humiliation, disease, and starvation. She befriends 17 year-old Charles – who’s half Chinese – and they give their hearts to each other under the orchid tree. Kate’s father doesn’t approve of their relationship. Can their love survive war and bigotry?

Kate and Charles kissing5. What is Kate’s personal goal?

In December 1948, she returns to the colony after three years in Australia, determined to put the past behind her and come of age. Her goal is to create a new life for herself in a society on the brink of change. She wants to be independent, overcome prejudice, and make herself a part of the new Hong Kong, while holding onto her never-to-be-forgotten love for Charles. An Englishman, James, arrives in the territory and becomes the link between Kate and Sofia Rodrigues, the step-sister of a Macau gangster. The communist-nationalist struggle in China spills over into Hong Kong, catapulting the protagonists into the turmoil with disastrous consequences.

Disastrous consequences6. What can you tell us about the title?

A recurrent location in the novel, the orchid tree, Bauhinia Blakeana, has become the emblem of Hong Kong. I was privileged to have grown up there during the post-war era, and I still consider it home.

Now I would like to pass the baton on to Ann Bennett for her to introduce Laura in her wonderful novel, Bamboo Heart. Over to you, Ann!

Special Introductory Price – Pre-Order Your Copy Today!

THE ORCHID TREE by Siobhan Daiko

A coming of age story set against the background of World War II and changing values in post-war Hong Kong society.

The Orchid Tree Cover MEDIUM WEB

Click to pre-order your copy! Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Italy, Amazon France, Amazon Spain, and Amazon Germany.

An evocative and mesmerising read,’ RENITA D’SILVA, author of Monsoon Memories.

Fifteen year-old Kate Wolseley lives a rarefied life of wealth and privilege in the expatriate community. But when the Japanese take over the colony in December 1941, she’s interned in squalid Stanley Camp with her parents.
Forty miles away, in Macau, Sofia Rodrigues’ suspicions are aroused when her father invites a Japanese family to dinner, an event which leads to a breach between Sofia and her controlling half-brother, Leo.
Enduring cramped conditions, humiliation, disease, and starvation, Kate befriends seventeen year-old Charles – who’s half Chinese – and they give…

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Stanley Civilian Internment Camp

As I prepare “The Orchid Tree” for publication, here’s a post I wrote about the setting of the start of the novel. My grandparents were interned in the camp, and went through some of the harrowing experiences of my characters.

Young woman in Stanley


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Siobhan Daiko

My heroine, Kate, falls in love with Charles when she is fifteen and has been interned with her parents by the Japanese in the Stanley Internment Camp. About 2,800 men, women, and children were held at the non-segregated camp for 44 months from early January 1942 to August 1945 when Japanese forces surrendered. My own grandparents were interned in the same camp.

On 8 December 1941, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong, marking the start of the Battle of Hong Kong. Seventeen days later, on Christmas Day of 1941, which came to be known as “Black Christmas”, the Hong Kong government surrendered, and Hong Kong came under Japanese occupation.

The Stanley site was chosen by the Japanese through consultation with two Hong Kong government officials, the Director of Medical Services, and the Colonial Secretary. Located on Stanley Peninsula, which was about nine kilometres from the city at the time, the camp consisted of St. Stephen’s College…

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