|Native name||å¶ç¥¥æ·» / è‘‰ç¥¥æ·»|
June 14, 1948 |
San Francisco, California, US
|Education||Ph.D., English literature|
|Alma mater||UC-Santa Cruz
|Genre||Historical fiction, speculative fiction, autobiography|
|Notable awards||Boston Globeâ€“Horn Book Award
Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal
While I was in high school, I discovered and began writing science fiction.
I get the ideas from everything. Children sometimes think you have to have special experiences to write, but good writing brings out what's special in ordinary things.
I was surprised at how cosmopolitan the Gold Rush was: prospectors were of all races, genders, and countries. I was equally surprised at how fast gold prospecting became big business.
At 18, my first short story was published – I was paid a penny a word by a science fiction magazine. I continued to write, and five years later I published my first novel, 'Sweetwater.'
In 1966, I attended Marquette University and graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1970. I received my doctorate in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo, where I wrote my dissertation on William Faulkner's early novels.
The southern Chinese are a mixture of the Han, or northern Chinese, and the local tribes, some of which allowed women a great deal of freedom – much to the horror of the Chinese who were good Confucians. As a result, the folklore from southern China has strong females; and I found that the folktales mirrored my own experience.
I like all kinds of stories, and I usually work on several stories at once. When I run out of gas on one, I start work on the other.
As a child growing up in San Francisco in the 1950s, I sometimes met insults when I ventured outside of Chinatown or my neighborhood. I have even been spat on and threatened with a knife. I could have let my anger fester until it became hate. However, I realized they were isolated incidents, and I simply got on with my life.
The ku-magic is a very ancient magic. It predates Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism.
My grandmother, my mother and my aunts and their friends were all of southern Chinese ancestry, and they were all strong figures. Though if you asked them who was the head of their families, they would have said their husbands; and yet it was the women who ran everything.
Most of the fiction on the California Gold Rush makes it sound like one grand, boyish adventure. However, when you read the real history, you realize that it wasn't that way at all.
I was born in San Francisco's Chinatown in 1948 but grew up in a black neighborhood. During elementary and middle school, I commuted to a bilingual school in Chinatown. So I did not confront white American culture until high school.
I started writing at the age of seventeen because I had a teacher in high school who said that we had to get something accepted by a national magazine to get an A. The teacher later withdrew that threat, but the writing bug bit me.
My ancestors come from a part of southern China where most villages can trace their roots back at least a thousand years or even more. However, as a typical American, I have lived in four cities and moved at least seven times.
My mother was actually born in Ohio but raised in West Virginia where her family had a laundry. She has a West Virginian accent. My father was born in China, but he's the son of an American citizen. My paternal grandfather was born in San Francisco in 1867.
When something horrible is done to you, the natural impulse is to strike back.