Meeting Author Lisa See

21 Apr

After a book review and two book club reflections, I’m finally able to post about meeting author Lisa See. She flew in from California to speak to us on April 11th and I went with my mom to hear what she had to say.

img_2945See was able to speak really well to her family’s history in California. Her great-great-grandfather was the first to come over from China though he went back and it was her great-grandfather who first stayed. She used him as the inspiration for Old Man Louie.

See said there were eight things she wanted to talk about when she wrote Shanghai Girls. Unfortunately, I only got down seven of them. I don’t know what I missed, but here they are.

  1. Shanghai. It was at the peak of its splendor right before the Japanese invasion and she wanted to talk about how it changed.
  2. Beautiful Girls. She loves the posters and collects the memorabilia.
  3. Arranged Marriages. In her family, one great-uncle took his nine sons back to China and all returned home with wives as part of an arranged marriage. She wanted to talk about how these marriages can end up.
  4. Angle Island. Immigrants were held there from anywhere between two weeks to two years. Most of the stories written about the island tell the story of men. See was able to find documentation of a female relative of hers that came through the island and took many of the questions from Pearl’s interrogation right from her relative’s interrogation transcript. When touring the island once, See was told there were no records of babies being born on the Island though many have personal stories. These babies, officially, did not exist.
  5. China City. See’s great-grandpa owned a shop at the beginning of China City, much like Old Man Louie. Growing up, See’s family still owned it but she was afraid China City would soon fade into history.
  6. The Confession Program. It wasn’t an amnesty program, but a confession program and See wanted to show why.
  7. Sisters. See has two half sisters and a former step-sister herself and wanted to talk about the relationship. One of her sisters reads her manuscripts and wants to be very clear that they are not Pearl and May from the book.

Continuing with lists, See told us about her three biggest inspirations to write. She said overall, she was encouraged by the 1,000s of female writers Yangzi Delta which showed her women could be successful writers. These three quotes and sayings inspired her as well.

  1. Art is the heartbeat of the artist.
  2. You have to cut to the bone to write.
  3. “Fooling around in the papers my grandparents, especially my grandmother, left behind, I get glimpses of lives close to mine, related to mine in ways I recognize but don’t completely comprehend. I’d like to live in their clothes a while, if only so I don’t have to live in my own.” – Wallace Stegner in his novel The Angle of Repose

I love Stegner so I was really excited that one of his quotes inspired her.

See was able to answer a few questions during a Q&A after she was done talking. It was mentioned that her new book will be called ‘The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane.’ It’s ready to publish, but with the election year going on, they wanted to wait until next June to put it out so there would be time for her on radio and TV to publicize it. She’s about to start research on the next book and will be traveling to Korea to start researching it. She said it takes her 2-3 years to write a book because of the research involved in the process.

When she first wrote Shanghai Girls, she did not intend to write a sequel. She felt the end was a new beginning and it was a good way to leave our main characters. If you’ve read my review, you’d know how much I’m not OK with this. See’s editor pushed her to write the sequel and I’m told it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger as well. She has no intention of writing a third.

See’s book Snow Flower and the Secret Fan was made into a movie. Asking her how she felt about the movie was great. See said they asked for her opinion on the changes they were making and she told them what she thought and they made the changes anyway. She looks at it in a great light, though. She said her story is filtered through her, but when it becomes a movie, the story is filtered through the director as well and his artistic ideas change what she’s already seen. I thought that was really positive.

img_2954I was able to meet See and have my three books signed. I asked her the question I ask every author when I meet them. What advice would you give me to be as successful as you? She said to get into the habit of writing 1,000 words a day. Also to be passionate about what you’re writing. It doesn’t matter if only 5,000 people read what you wrote as long as it’s the right 5,000 people. Don’t worry about writing a best seller.

I’m really glad the libraries worked to bring See in to speak to us. I’m looking forward to my next author appearance, Emily St. John Mandel in May.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at And as always, feel free to leave a comment!


5 Responses to “Meeting Author Lisa See”

  1. readersandmore April 21, 2016 at 11:03 AM #

    What an awesome experience!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. luvtoread April 21, 2016 at 9:22 PM #

    How cool! And wow – Shanghai Girls wasn’t written with a sequel in mind?? I am so glad she wrote a sequel as Shanghai Girls did not have an ending! Dreams of Joy is much better, and felt complete to me. What fun that you got to hear her speak and meet her! Hearing authors speak always brings their work to life.


    • Sam April 21, 2016 at 10:23 PM #

      Agreed! I was also shocked that Shanghai Girls was written without an ending. Knowing there was a sequel made me like it more. I knew the story had more to give. I don’t know when I’ll read Dreams of Joy but I hope to. I’d love to hear more from Pearl. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. P. C. Zick April 27, 2016 at 3:30 PM #

    Thank you for writing this post. She’s one of my favorite storytellers, along with Wallace Stegner.


    • Sam April 27, 2016 at 8:17 PM #

      He’s a favorite of mine as well! See quoted him that night so I think we’re in good company. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: