My parents told me I would become a doctor and then in my spare time I would become a concert pianist. So, both my day job and my spare time were sort of taken care of.
I'm usually woken by a vibration on my up-band. It's the gradual vibration for about ten seconds, and then the chimes of my blue light. It's just a way to wake gently. It all gently puts me into awake-mode. I play music off of my Sonos playlist. 'The Rachmaninoff Concerto 3 in D-minor', 1st movement.
In a second-class courtesan house, the courtship was much briefer. It could even be one night; usually it went on a little bit longer. But as the years went by, that period of courtship was shorter and shorter.
I think I've always been somebody, since the deaths of my father and brother, who was afraid to hope. So, I was more prepared for failure and for rejection than for success.
Who knows where inspiration comes from. Perhaps it arises from desperation. Perhaps it comes from the flukes of the universe, the kindness of the muses.
I read academic books on courtesan culture at the turn-of-the century in Shanghai such as Gail Hershatter's 'The Gender of Memory'. The diaries were mostly in the form of letters from courtesans to a lover who had disappeared or taken their savings.
I have many reasons why I think reading is really important. It provided for me a refuge, especially during difficult times. It provided me with the notion that I could find an ending that was different from what was happening to me at the time.
No one in my family was a reader of literary fiction. So, I didn't have encouragement, but I didn't have discouragement, because I don't think anybody knew what that meant.
I saw my mother in a different light. We all need to do that. You have to be displaced from what's comfortable and routine, and then you get to see things with fresh eyes, with new eyes.
I grew up with Bible stories, which are like fairy tales, because my father was a minister. We heard verses and prayers every day. I liked the gorier Bible stories. I did have a book of Chinese fairy tales. All the people except the elders looked like Italians. But we were not a family that had fiction books.
My favorite anything is always relative to the context of present time, place and mood. When I finish a book and want to immediately find another by the same author and no other, that author is elevated to my favorite.
I loved fairy tales when I was a kid. Grimm. The grimmer the better. I loved gruesome gothic tales and, in that respect, I liked Bible stories, because to me they were very gothic.
Until the age of five, my parents spoke to me in Chinese or a combination of Chinese and English, but they didn't force me to speak Mandarin. In retrospect, this was sad, because they believed that my chance of doing well in America hinged on my fluency in English. Later, as an adult, I wanted to learn Chinese.
I was intelligent enough to make up my own mind. I not only had freedom of choice, I had freedom of expression.
You can get sucked into the idea that, 'Gosh, this is impressive. Maybe I should do this. It will look good.' Or 'I'll write like this because it will impress that critic.'
No one can travel your own road for you; you must travel it for yourself. My faith in this stems from my childhood. I grew up in a family with a system of religious beliefs handed down to me.
My parents had very high expectations. They expected me to get straight A's from the time I was in kindergarten.
I would still like to have that luxury, to be able to just sit and draw for hours and hours and hours. In a way, that's what I do as a writer.
Mothers have this huge influence, and I feel like they're always teaching us from the day we're born what to be afraid of, what to be cautious of, what we should like, and what we should look like.
My grandmother. She's someone I never met, and I would've loved to have met her. She's been a huge influence on our entire family, not just me. She is a mystery. It's not clear exactly what about her is truth and myth.