I’ve been asked that question many times. My friend and mentor Deanna wonders if I am a writer or a Chameleon. My friend Arthur and I can’t have a decent conversation without coming up with some story outline. My friend Justin calls me ‘the idea generator’ and my husband encourages me to work on one project at a time. Why? Because I have so many stories to tell, so many characters to bring to life!
To me, inspiration might be something a friend said over tea or lunch. A person I saw on the NYC subway or in Central Park. A painting at the Metropolitan Museum. A book. A movie. Anything, really!
‘Vignettes of Life‘ illustrates this perfectly:
I wrote ‘My Father’s Sins‘ soon after reading a book about the son of a Nazi criminal who fled to South America. How conflicted that young man was when he discovered who is father was encouraged me to find out more. I did some research, read articles and watched interviews. My story was born.
A TV series inspired ‘The Black Child‘, something I had never heard of, despite my years living in Asia. The black children or ‘heihaizi’ were born out of the one-child policy and were ‘illegal’, had no existence whatsoever. Researching their story was bone-chilling. May-Ling Chen was born.
‘Keep Out’, a story of loss and death, came to me after my brother passed away early 2020. I wanted to write about my loss, without addressing it frontally. The day I walked past a Manhattan restaurant that just closed after decades, I knew I had the angle of a story to express my grief.
Finally, ‘The Killer Review’ was inspired by the terrible review a reader wrote about my first novel. As much as it affected me, it also inspired a story of murder and revenge, the beauty of writing, where you can create anything. Read it, you’ll easily guess what kind of mood I was in when I wrote it.
My advice to my readers? Be careful what stories you share with me (just kidding…sort of) and do not write a negative review. Ever.