The Blu Phenomenon

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He watched over the boy from a distance for thirteen years. She searched her country for the boy just as long. Thirteen-year-old Chinese adoptee Cal Vandiver resides in California with his adoptive parents, plagued with an ever-present fear of being “taken,” exacerbated by his uncharacteristic blue eyes and extraordinary athleticism. Cal and his band of friends discover someone really is watching him. What happens next thrusts his under the radar existence into the spotlight, forcing him to a place that’s anything but safe as he trains for the 2020 Olympic Games. The Olympian-in-training will be faced with decisions that will impact his future, as well as those for whom he cares—on both sides of the ocean.


The Blu Phenomenon is Catherine Pike Plough’s debut novel. We asked her a few questions about her publishing journey.

Catherine on choosing SPARK Publications

“So many people encouraged me to self-publish, but I was resistant. I had seen some disappointing self-publishing efforts and knew that I had to have a final product that was reflective of the years (yes, years!) of blood, sweat, and tears I’d poured into my book. I was immediately drawn to the idea of custom publishing with SPARK Publications because it gave me a TEAM. That team was as committed to a quality product as I was, and I’ve been relieved and delighted by the excellent craftsmanship that went into my publication, as well as the support I received as a person, as a writer, and now as a voice on the topic of international adoption and families.”

Catherine Pike PloughWhat inspired you to write this book?

Storytelling has always been at the heart of my writing. As a long-time freelancer, every assignment—whether a magazine feature, news article, or website copy—was an opportunity to tell a unique and, hopefully, an inspiring story. The Blu Phenomenon was birthed at the intersection of my personal experience as an adoptive mom of a Chinese son, my passion around the democratic movement in China, and a vivid dream in which my son and I were about to meet his birth mother. It was the perfect start of a book that would reflect my love of story, my passions, and my own experience.

What is your primary goal for the book?

The primary goal of the book is to give adoptees—especially those born in one country and raised in another—a familiar place where their experience is not foreign, a place where each can embrace his or her own story. It is my hope that by doing so the book will encourage dialogue about that experience and how it affects children, families, and communities.

What surprises did you encounter on the road to writing and publishing the book?

Perhaps the biggest and most welcome surprises came in the response of influencers I approached to read and endorse the book. I can’t begin to express the honor of receiving an endorsement from Harry Wu, America’s foremost human rights activist for China and the founder of the Laogai Research Foundation in Washington, D.C. In addition, Susan Soonkeum Cox, a public voice on issues related to international adoption, also received the book with enthusiasm. Susan is a Korean adoptee and vice president of policy and external affairs for Holt International.

Do you have any advice for other authorpreneurs?

I believe there are few things in this life that we should pursue in solitude. Whether you are an extroverted or introverted (that’s me!) author, we all need supporters—personal and professional—to pull together the courage and the know-how necessary to say what we need to say. I suggest the following mantra: practice courage, keep your closest friends on speed dial, try again, and don’t take anything personally.

How is your book part of your broader professional goals?

Over the course of writing The Blu Phenomenon, I have identified topics that resonate with me and with others who share my interest in adoption, foster care alternatives, and China affairs. These I will continue to discuss in the form of articles and interviews. Further, I will also be available to speak at public forums called Blu Conversations. These can be arranged for groups and organizations at

What’s next for you?

So much to look forward to! I am very excited about upcoming Blu Conversations and opportunities to be a resource others. In addition, I have a bucket list of writing projects I want to check off, including a teleplay and a children’s book. That being said, I am all too aware that life often takes us down paths we could never have imagined. That’s okay too.

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