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Olympic volleyball player Zhao Ruirui is developing a new career as a popular fantasy fiction novelist. Tang Zhe reports in Beijing.
When Zhao Ruirui retired from volleyball in 2010 she surprised her family and friends by publishing the fantasy fiction novel Moshi Huanxing (Awakening the Doomsday, published by Shenzhen-based Haitian Publishing House) in March 2011.
"My elder sister wondered how come I didn't write an autobiography instead. She thought it was strange for me to write fantasy fiction - it's just too far away from reality," Zhao recalls. "But I like to imagine."
With vivid prose and illustrations, the book is about fairies and guardian angels uniting to defeat evil and save the world.
Now the 31-year-old has produced a second book, Caiyu Xia (Colored-Feather Hero), published by Beijing Lianhe Publishing House in June.
The novel's hero, Caiyu Xia, is an alien who helps eradicate demons on Earth.
The transition from star athlete to fantasy fiction writer has not been easy.
"Some people suspected the story was not written by me, while others asked, 'How can someone who used to run and jump everyday suddenly sit down for hours to write," Zhao says.
"To express my ideas with the pen really was a challenge."
An enthusiast of comic books like Saint Seiya, Dragon Ball and She-Ra Princess of Power, Zhao says she grew up with a powerful imagination.