Rush to make Mao movie 03 June 2006
By BEN WATSONAuthor Mary Weijung Collins says she has film directors queuing at her door vying for the opportunity to tell her best-selling life story.
Mrs Collins, who lives in Glenfield, has won international acclaim for her book Desert Rose, published by Penguin.
It details her amazing struggle and escape from China and Mongolia during Mao's Cultural Revolution.
Mrs Collins' story began at the height of the revolution in 1965 when she was 21.
The situation got so bad she was forced to leave China and flee to the nearby Gobi Desert.
Her mother had a friend in the Muslim city of Ulumuqi who said he would try to find her a job but she would have to stay in the desert until it could be arranged.
When she eventually did find work she says it involved the harsh back-breaking task of harvesting corn, wheat, cotton and even opium. A typical workday was 12 hours or more.
She battled extreme winter weather conditions with temperatures dropping as low as -45 Celsius.
Mrs Collins says she always knew her book would make a great movie.
"I think it's a good story to make into a movie. There's romance and different scenery. It would make a beautiful picture," she says.
She has been approached by producers and directors from New Zealand, China and the United States but has yet to decide who she will chose with.
She would, however, like to see actress Zhang Ziyi, star of blockbusters such as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Memoirs of a Geisha, to play her in the movie.
Mrs Collins has just returned from Beijing with her daughter where she gave talks about her life and her book.
She says she was treated like a celebrity and had queues of people wanting autographs and photos taken with her.
When she is not writing, Mrs Collins keeps busy as a professional public speaker, talking about her life experiences