Today I am interviewing Veronica Li, author of 'Nightfall in Mogadishu' and 'Journey Across the Four Seas: A Chinese Woman's Search for Home'.
Veronica, welcome to Hardcover Feedback! What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a novel about caregiving for elderly parents. It starts with the Chinese concept of filial piety and expands to universal truths about the relationships between elderly parents and grownup children. Looking back at my caregiving for my parents, I can now see past the tension and conflicts and appreciate the love and humor.
What or who made the biggest influence on you wanting to become a writer?
My mom. She was a great storyteller, and the stories she told were from the book of her life. She could turn every personal experience into a story. I grew up believing that an experience is meaningless until I’ve spun it into a story. It’s my way of making sense of life.
The first draft of my first book read like a history of Somalia, where I worked as an aid worker. Several rounds of rewriting later, it morphed into a spy thriller revolving around tribal politics and the events that led to civil war in the country. It was published in paperback by Authorhouse and is now also available on Kindle. The title is NIGHTFALL IN MOGADISHU.
Do you have any writing habits that people might find unusual?
I always do my exercise routine before I write. It’s a mix of yoga, meditation and aerobics. After a good workout, I’m all too happy to sit at my computer with a cup of tea and write for a few hours.
I have heard that many authors listen to music while they write. Do you? If so, what do you usually listen to?
I prefer silence when I write. Sometimes I even plug up my ears to keep my thoughts from leaking out.
The character closest to my heart is my mother. She’s the heroine in my memoir of her life, JOURNEY ACROSS THE FOUR SEAS: A CHINESE WOMAN’S SEARCH FOR HOME. She survived poverty, wars and revolutions in China, and brought her children to the U.S. so they could have a better life.
What is the best gift you have ever received and who gave it to you?
It’s my piano bench, a birthday present from my husband. It’s adjustable and upholstered in leather and very comfortable. It better be since I spend two hours on it every day. I perform for nursing homes and community groups.
What are three things (not people) that you wouldn't want to live without?
My piano, computer and tea kettle.
What is something that you have always wanted to do, but just haven't gotten around to it yet?
Take voice lessons. I immigrated to the U.S. from Hong Kong at age fifteen. An American high school isn’t the easiest place to adjust to, but I felt very much at home in the school choir. It goes to show that music is universal.
All the music in the world is being destroyed and you can only save one album, what would you save and why?
Johann Sebastian Bach. His music combines intellectual depth, technical command and artistic beauty, and the result is absolutely divine. It’s no wonder they call him Papa Bach, father of classical music. I’ve told my family that when I’m on my deathbed, I want Bach’s music to accompany me to the next world.
What is your all-time favorite book? What is your favorite book you have read this year?
My all-time favorite is TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee. It has all the elements that appeal to the best of the human heart: a child’s innocence, anger at social injustice, compassion and love. Book bloggers have widened my reading horizon this year. They’ve drawn my attention to books that have been ignored by the mainstream media. One of these books is SCRATCH by Danny Gillan. It’s about a man in his thirties who’s giving himself a second chance at growing up. The subject is serious but told in a laugh-out-loud way. I give it five stars.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Party. I love to be with people because what I do seriously is rather lonely—writing and
playing the piano. Connecting with people reminds me that the purpose of my creative
expression is to communicate with others.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Neither. My best time is 9:30 am to noon, which is my writing time.
If you were throwing a dinner party and you could invite five people (fictional or real, dead or alive) who would you invite?
My parents—I want to find out how they’re doing in the other world and whether they need me to do anything for them.
President Obama—I’ll tell him to include a fund for the arts in his jobs program.
Mrs. Bradley—my high school English teacher, who inspired me to major in English in college.
Murray Perahia—we’ll sit back and listen to the world class pianist play.
You are given a ticket that will bring you anywhere that you want to go, at anytime in history. Where would you want to go and why?
The Big Bang. I want to see the birth of the universe.
Where can people connect with you online?
You can visit me at http://veronicali.com
Thank you so much Veronica for being on Hardcover Feedback!
Now for the giveaway. Veronica has graciously offered to giveaway three e-copies of her book 'Nightfall in Mogadishu' and three e-copies of her book 'Journey Across the Four Seas'! To enter, all you have to do is follow this blog in at least one way and then complete whichever extra entries you want in the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway is open internationally.