“As someone who grew up in China, I have a rather different perspective from writers who were raised in the American culture. And, let’s be honest, it is every writer’s dream to be read and to be discovered, as only through words, characters, and their stories can we truly say we understand each other.”
–Weina Dai Randel
A member of the Writers’ League of Texas since May, Weina Dai Randel lives in Dallas.
Weina Dai Randel: Historical fiction, but I’m not limited to that.
Scribe: What authors would you like to have a drink with, and what beverage?
WDR: Arthur Golden. I’m a huge fan of The Memoirs of a Geisha, which inspired me when I was writing my first novel The Moon In the Palace. I even tried to imitate the voice, but had to revise since Golden’s character was rather different from mine.
I’ll probably have coffee so I could still be coherent.
Scribe: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?
WDR: A collection of Chinese classical poetry that includes the poems from the early Chunqiu Period to the Qing Dynasty and the poetry of Chan (Zen in Japanese) composed during the legendary Chan period in China (mid-fifth century to the eighth century).
Scribe: What have you learned from your association with the Writers’ League?
WDR: The Writers’ League is very helpful for aspiring writers who seek to hone craft and for published authors who intend to network and stay inspired with writers of similar mindset.
Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?
WDR: I think I’ll keep writing every day, but not necessarily write in the same genre or publish every year. I’m saying this because when my two books were wrapped up last year, I had some moments of loss when I found nothing in my head, which was terrifying since I was used to having something, thoughts, plots, characters, or just sheer weight of depression in my head for almost ten years. So yeah, I think I’ll just keep my eyes glued to the computer or the pages whenever possible.
Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?
WDR: I read Laird Hunt’s Neverhome and was enthralled by the strong voice of Ash Thompson who went to war in the place of her husband. I read it last year and I still can’t get it out of my head.
WDR: I was born and raised in China and English is my second language. I came to the U.S. at the age of twenty-four; that’s when I started to speak, write, think, and dream in English. It took me ten years to write the first novel The Moon in the Palace, a historical novel about Empress Wu, and eighty-two rejection letters to finally sign an agent. I think I understand the full extent of rejection and depression as an aspiring writer.
I was determined to write about Empress Wu, the first and only female ruler in China, who is also known as the Chinese Cleopatra. Empress Wu was a trailblazer for women and left an impressive legacy in China, yet she was not often judged kindly by the Confucian scholars because of her gender.
I’d be very honored if you pick up one of my books and read it. I do believe, as someone who grew up in China, I have a rather different perspective from writers who were raised in the American culture. And, let’s be honest, it is every writer’s dream to be read and to be discovered, as only through words, characters, and their stories can we truly say we understand each other.
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