Lessons from author Lisa See at Malaga Cove Library – Daily Breeze
Last week I was lucky enough to be in the audience when author Lisa See gave a talk at Malaga Cove Library.
I’ve been a fan since reading See’s first book, “On Gold Mountain”.
In this book, she tells the story of her Chinese grandfather who met and married a white woman in Sacramento. They had to get married in Mexico, because a Chinese man marrying a white woman was illegal in the United States at the time.
Later, the two opened a boutique in Los Angeles’ Chinatown where See spent much of her childhood. It took her five years to write “On Gold Mountain,” See said, which included trips to China where she met many relatives she didn’t know she had.
I’m not the only one who found this book fascinating.
the The Los Angeles Opera from May 5 to 15 performs a work based on See’s book at the Huntington Library’s Chinese Garden.
Since the publication of this first book, See has written many others, all fiction.
Most of them were set in China, such as her first fiction, “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” and her 2010 New York Times bestseller “Shanghai Girls.”
See’s latest book, “The Island of the Sea Women,” chronicles South Korean women divers before and during the Korean War.
When she writes a book, See said she goes to various sites to make sure her stories and their settings are authentic.
See does extensive research before deciding on the subject of her next book.
She shared how the pandemic frustrated her by closing UCLA libraries to all but students and faculty. As the spread of the disease waned, she was finally allowed to browse and borrow whatever books she wanted.
During her talk, See discussed several of her methods for plotting her books.
She said she often envisions the end of the book long before she gets there. It fascinated me when she said she had a character who was going to kill herself, but she loved her so much she didn’t want that to happen.
See tried several ways to avoid her suicide, but ultimately it was inevitable.
I could imagine an invisible hand guiding her story to its end. I thought about it and decided that in my writing of fiction, I had always moved the story the way I wanted, rather than letting the story move me.
I think that’s why Lisa See is a famous writer whose editor says she can write anything she wants, and I just write a column in a newspaper.
In addition to the author’s speech, the public at Malaga Cove Library was also treated to an explanation of a tea ceremony.
As the women of the Tea Classics company poured water and brewed tea into a teapot, their movements were slow and careful.
When they finished we were offered glasses of tea they had prepared.
I found the demonstration interesting, but my western mind kept thinking that I was happy enough to pour boiling water over a tea bag.
Not an elegant method, but it works for me.