Ask Lisa See! discussion

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How much research?

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message 1: by Elissa (new)

Elissa | 3 comments I always love the well-researched history in your books. For Snow Flower (or any of your books, really), how long does it typically take you to conduct the historical research? Does the story dictate the research or vice versa?

Thanks!!


message 2: by MJ (new)

MJ | 1 comments I'm wondering if any character in your books represents one of your ancestors? If so who in your family tree?

By the way, I love your books!


Sharon/ LFrog1386 (lfrog1386) | 32 comments Here are some photos Lisa has on her website. I am not sure if this is the woman she met and interviewed in China for the novel, but this is a rare look at what the foot looks like without the bindings on. Remember, this is the equivalent of one of us taking our bras off and being photographed topless, so it is unusual to have a woman agree to have her feet photographed.

http://www.lisasee.com/images/footbin...


message 4: by Elissa (new)

Elissa | 3 comments Wow -- those photos are incredible. Thanks for sharing, Sharon.


Sharon/ LFrog1386 (lfrog1386) | 32 comments You're welcome! :) Check out the rest of Lisa's website at LisaSee.com. There is a wealth of information there!


message 6: by Lisa (new)

Lisa See | 81 comments Mod
Elissa wrote: "I always love the well-researched history in your books. For Snow Flower (or any of your books, really), how long does it typically take you to conduct the historical research? Does the story dicta..."

It now takes me about two years to do the research and write a novel. That said, I often have already spent years poking around a subject and thinking about it before I even decide to write.

As for how the story developes -- sometimes it comes from history, sometimes from character, sometimes from theme, and sometimes from an emotion. Every book has been different.


message 7: by Elissa (new)

Elissa | 3 comments Thank you for your answer :)


message 8: by Lisa (new)

Lisa See | 81 comments Mod
MJ wrote: "I'm wondering if any character in your books represents one of your ancestors? If so who in your family tree?

By the way, I love your books!"


One person has made in appearance in all of my books. In DReams of Joy, she was Madame Hu; in Shanghai Girls, she was Yen-yen; in Peony in love, she was the grandmother; in the mysteries, she was the neighborhood committee director; and in On Gold Mountain, the book about my family, she's my actual grandmother. Writing these characters has allowed me to spend time with my grandmother, even though she's been gone a long time. I consider it a true blessing.


message 9: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) Lisa wrote: "Elissa wrote: "As for how the story developes -- sometimes it comes from history, sometimes from character, sometimes from theme, and sometimes from an emotion. Every book has been different."

What was it for Snow Flower and the Secret Fan? (Apologies if you've answered this elsewhere.)


message 10: by Lisa (new)

Lisa See | 81 comments Mod
Meagan wrote: "I had the same question as well in regards to the research. lol

How hard was it to research foot-binding for those scenes in Snow Flower?

Those scenes were beautifully written, yet it horrif..."


Those secenes weren't hard for me to write. In fact, I think I had a kind of cavalier attitude about those scenes. To write about nu shu, I knew I had to address the reasons that women invented the secret language, which were that they were illiterate in men's writing and lived in total seclusion. Why did they live in seclusion? Because of their footbinding. So, oddly, I felt like this was just something I had to get through. Maybe my off-hand approach made that scene even harder to bear.


message 11: by Lisa (new)

Lisa See | 81 comments Mod
Sharon wrote: "Here are some photos Lisa has on her website. I am not sure if this is the woman she met and interviewed in China for the novel, but this is a rare look at what the foot looks like without the bind..."

These aren't photos that I took, but I'm really glad you've looked on my web site, because we all worked very hard to make it informative and visual.

I did interview a woman who had bound feet for Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.


message 12: by Ana (new)

Ana (brazilianmelody) | 2 comments I'm sorry if this isn't the right thread for this, I'm not really sure where this question should go.
I love looking at different languages and dialects, and the words different cultures use for various aspects of life. So my question is: Was the physical relationship between a husband and wife actually called bed business? Was it then? Is it now?


message 13: by Lisa (new)

Lisa See | 81 comments Mod
Ana wrote: "I'm sorry if this isn't the right thread for this, I'm not really sure where this question should go.
I love looking at different languages and dialects, and the words different cultures use for ..."


Ha! You made me smile! Until two days ago, no one had ever asked me this question, and now I've had it two days in a row. It must be something in the air! There are lots of phrases for having sex in Chinese. I actually made up bed business, because it felt more earthy and appropiate for uneducated women living in the countryside than "clouds and rain."


message 14: by Kae (new)

Kae Saephan | 4 comments I loved Snowflower! Can you please tell me more about the story of Panhu? What inspired you to come up with her character and the Yao people? Thank you!


message 15: by Lisa (new)

Lisa See | 81 comments Mod
Meagan wrote: "^ I loved the phrase "bed business." My friends and I use that phrase almost all the time after they read the book.

One of my friends wanted me to ask about "bed business," and why was the weddi..."


I'm not sure I know what you mean about the wedding?
I wrote about weddings for the yao ethnic minority. Their traditions are quote different than Han Chinese traditions.


message 16: by Lisa (new)

Lisa See | 81 comments Mod
Kae wrote: "I loved Snowflower! Can you please tell me more about the story of Panhu? What inspired you to come up with her character and the Yao people? Thank you!"


I didn't invent Panhu. That's the actual origin myth for the Yao ethnic minority in China.


message 17: by Ana (new)

Ana (brazilianmelody) | 2 comments Lisa wrote: "Ana wrote: "I'm sorry if this isn't the right thread for this, I'm not really sure where this question should go.
I love looking at different languages and dialects, and the words different cult..."


Lisa wrote: "Ana wrote: "I'm sorry if this isn't the right thread for this, I'm not really sure where this question should go.
I love looking at different languages and dialects, and the words different cult..."


Thanks for answering! I'd wondered about that ever since I read the book, and would've asked you sooner if I'd had the opportunity. Clouds and rain? I like that one, though it's anything but obvious. I guess the husband and wife thing is another one?

Thank you so much for taking the time to spend the day with us here on Goodreads. I think I speak for all of us when I say we've all enjoyed and appreciated it. Good luck with your next, and future books. Can't wait!


message 18: by Kae (new)

Kae Saephan | 4 comments Thanks for inviting your facebook friends to join you today! I would have never found this wonderful site! I'm currently reading Dreams of Joy and enjoying it very much:) I'm looking forward to more of your work!


message 19: by Kae (new)

Kae Saephan | 4 comments Do you plan on making any stops in the Dallas/Fort Worth area? I would love to get a signed copy of Snow Flower! Oh how I wish I was back in California again :(


message 20: by Lisa (new)

Lisa See | 81 comments Mod
Kae wrote: "Thanks for inviting your facebook friends to join you today! I would have never found this wonderful site! I'm currently reading Dreams of Joy and enjoying it very much:) I'm looking forward to mor..."

I'm so glad you joined in. I've been on GoodReads for quite a while. I really like it a lot. It's a great place to hear about books and connect with other book lovers.


message 21: by Lisa (new)

Lisa See | 81 comments Mod
Kae wrote: "Do you plan on making any stops in the Dallas/Fort Worth area? I would love to get a signed copy of Snow Flower! Oh how I wish I was back in California again :("

I beleive I'm going to be in Dallas for the paperback tour for Dreams of Joy next Spring. I don't have the final schedule yet, but as soon as I do, I'll put it up on my GoodReads, Facebook, and my website.


Sharon/ LFrog1386 (lfrog1386) | 32 comments You do second tours for paperback releases, as well? When do you have time to write?! That must be exhausting!


message 23: by Kae (new)

Kae Saephan | 4 comments Awesome! I'm currently reading Dreams of Joy and love it so far. I'll be on the lookout for your visit to Dallas! Thanks!


message 24: by Lisa (new)

Lisa See | 81 comments Mod
Sharon/ LFrog1386 wrote: "You do second tours for paperback releases, as well? When do you have time to write?! That must be exhausting!"

Exhausted seems to be my general state of being these days.


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