High Point Literary League hosts author Lisa See
When she was growing up, Lisa See thought she knew certain things about herself.
She didn’t want to get married. She didn’t want to have children. She didn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a writer. She loved the idea of living out of a suitcase.
Today, she’s happily married, a mother of two, and a bestselling author — none of which she envisioned for herself.
She does, however, spend a lot of time living out of a suitcase, so she’s got that going for her.
On Wednesday, See and her suitcase will be in High Point, where she will speak at the High Point Literary League’s fall luncheon before having a public book-signing.
“I went off to Europe for a couple of years, and I started thinking, ‘How am I going to support myself?’” See recalled during a telephone interview from her home in Los Angeles. “I was living in Greece, and one morning I woke up and it was like a light bulb went off: ‘Oh, I could be a writer.’ Within my first 48 hours back home, I had two magazine assignments.”
Her mother, author Carolyn See, helped her snag those two assignments, but she handled them well enough to launch a career as a journalist.
“That’s how I first started, and it took a long time before I wrote my first book,” See said.
“I worked as a journalist for a long time, and I think that really helped me with my novels — it helped me with doing research and interviewing people. What many readers have said to me is that my writing feels so real to them, like they’re there in the room with those people. Even though they’re fictional characters, they think they’re about real people, and I think that comes out of that journalistic background of trying to make readers feel like they’re there with you as they’re reading something.”
See’s popular books include “On Gold Mountain: The One Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family,” “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” “Peony In Love,” “Dragon Bones,” “The Interior,” “Flower Net,” “Shanghai Girls” and her most recent novel, “Dreams of Joy,” which was published in 2011.
She has just sent the manuscript for her next novel, “China Dolls,” to her publisher. As with previous books, See drew on her Chinese heritage in writing “China Dolls,” basing parts of the story on real-life Chinese nightclub performers of the 1930s and ’40s. The book will be released in May, she said.
See said her toughest challenge when writing a book is the editing process.
“That’s always difficult,” she said. “I’ve been lucky to have some great editors, but that doesn’t mean I like the process. This is the way I look at it: I figure a third of the time they’re wrong — they just read it wrong or they’re stupid — and then a third of the time they’re absolutely right, and a third of the time you just have to take a closer look at something, but something’s not quite right about it.”
The goal and result of the editing process remain the same, though.
“Ultimately, the book gets better,” she said, “and that’s what I want.”
And, she added, that’s what her readers want, too.
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Want to go?
Author Lisa See will sign copies of her books at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the High Point Country Club, 800 Country Club Drive.
Prior to the signing, she will speak at the High Point Literary League’s fall luncheon, but that luncheon is not open to the public.
For more information about See and her books, visit her website at www.lisasee.com.