He was born in Tientsin, Hopei Province, during the hour of the Rat on the eve of Lunar New Year 4620 (1923AD), or, to be more precise, as the clock was striking midnight, ushering out the Year of the Dog and heralding the Boar. Most propitious being half-canine half-swine, according to one oracle. Not so, countered another. With his Earthly Branches mixed, he might turn out as a lotus in a crosscurrent, stressed, blooming late, if at all.
And the latter prediction was close. As a "late-bloomer" he didn't launch into his career in computers until he was thirty. He didn't start writing until after his retirement. It was not until 1990 that he published his first book - the whimsical novel Merry-GoRound for which he used the pseudonym Robin Maxwell. But he reverted to his real name Desmond Power for his personal account of life in China's treaty ports -Little Foreign Devil. His next book will be Flambard's Canadian Capers, which is about the misadventures of a computer consultant harassed by the foibles, vanities, and affectations of the captains of industry. And ready in final draft are two works: Rogue Manchu - Rogue Irish, a novel whose underlying theme is the challenge of inter-racial marriage, and The Courtyard of the Happy Way trilogy, set in the war-torn Siberia of the 1920s, the foreign enclaves of Shanghai and Tientsin, and the London/Hong Kong base of one of the world's greatest banking empires.
... about the book:
In the so-called "concessions" of the treaty ports Tientsin and Shanghai, foreigners live off the fat of the land. They are exempt from Chinese taxes, they stand above Chinese law. And all quite above board, their garrisons and police are there in force to protect their special status. To third generation settlers this world of privilege is the only world they know, so all the greater the shock when the unequal treaties are abrogated and they find themselves outsiders, held as contemptible as their grandparents against whom the Boxers rose in such bloody revolt.
Battle cry of the Boxers, China's Freedom Fighters of 1900
Never mind soya for our noodles,
We're going to smash the Legation Quarter.
Never mind gravy for our noodles,
We're going to smash the British Embassy.
Never mind vinegar for our noodles,
We're going to smash the West Arsenal.
(The ringing rhyme is lost in translation, but not the message.)