Wandering in nature, daydreaming, and listening to my grandmother’s stories from the past.
What audience did you have in mind for your career as a writer – adult or children?
Both children and adults.
When you went to college, were you already pursuing a writing career? (or a career in illustrating? or just art in general?)
No, I majored in chemistry in Beijing University (Peking University). Because of the political situation in China, my parents thought a career in science would be much safer. I had no idea I would eventually find my way to become a writer in the U.S. one day.
Was your first book accepted immediately? or did you experience a number of rejections?
I emailed my manuscript (LITTLE GREEN: Growing up During the Cultural Revolution) to Simon & Schuster and it was accepted immediately.
What are the topics are some of your books?
The topics of my books are mostly stories about individuals under certain political and social conditions. They could be about an innocent young child or the ruler of the whole nation.
What kinds of things inspire you to write?
Stories and people that move me deeply and always come back to my mind, no matter how long ago I heard about them.
Have any of your books earned special recognition?
Yes, besides the California Collections LITTLE GREEN has won eight other awards and recognitions, including The Parents' Choice Award, Society of School Librarians International Book Award Honor Book, International Reading Association (IRA) Children's Book Award, and New York Public Library's Books for Teen Age.
Is there anything about yourself that you’d like to share - hobbies, where you were born, special talents other than writing/illustrating.
I love dancing and had competed for the MIT ballroom dance team. I am also a freelance curator and organizer for international art exhibitions.
What other jobs you had before you became a writer/illustrator?
I was a doing a postdoctoral fellowship at a Harvard-MIT joint program in medical research when I first began writing. I worked in the biotech and medical device industries as a scientist before my first book was published.