Aimee Liu

Novelist, Essayist, Teacher

Read Aimee's latest *stories @Medium HERE!
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Aimee's Blog

 

About Me-- Aimee Liu

About Me-- Aimee Liu
by Aimee Liu

I recently discovered the Medium publication, About Me. Its whole m.o. is introducing writers, and it occurred to me that this might be a good addition to my blog, so here goes!

Full article @ authoraimeeliu.Medium.com

Yellowface in the Family

Yellowface in the Family
by Aimee Liu

I was cleaning out my father’s office after his death when I discovered the history of his movie years, stuffed into a soft red and gold Moroccan leather folio. This trove of yellowing newspaper clippings and gauzy headshots thrilled me. Here at last was the archive that would help me piece together Dad’s unlikely acting career 70 years earlier.

He’d never wanted to talk about his Hollywood days. MGM’s 1937 version of The Good Earth was the only movie he’d admit to being part of, which was odd because he hadn’t even made the final cut. His appearance as one of the uncles in the opening scene wound up on the editing room floor. He also worked as a technical consultant for the crews that shot in China. Dad had grown up in Shanghai, the son of a Chinese official who’d remained in Nanking after Dad’s American mother moved the rest of the family to California. My father doubtless was very useful to the production, given the various wars and political intrigues that were brewing in China at the time, but this role, too, was uncredited.

Not until late in his life, just a few years before he died, did I learn that both Dad and his sister Lotus performed onscreen with some of the biggest movie stars of the 1930s. On an idle whim, my brother had searched for their names on IMDb. According to his listed credits, our father, Maurice Liu, played the Hawaiian bridegroom in Waikiki Wedding, starring Bing Crosby. In Shadow of Chinatown, a Bela Lugosi vehicle, Dad appeared as a house boy. In West of Shanghai, with Boris Karloff, he was listed as a train conductor. Lotus had nine films under her name.

Full story @ Medium here.
 

The Foster Sister I Never Knew

The Foster Sister I Never Knew
by Aimee Liu

Why did my parents really let her go?


I was born three years after my parents gave my foster sister back. As far as my mother was concerned, I replaced her. My father, I’m not so sure. Josie would have been about six by then. My brother, Marc, was seven. I grew up without knowing the first thing about Josie’s existence.

Only as an adult did I trip across the one photograph that my parents seemed to possess of her. There, tucked into some ancient album, appeared a small blond stranger stepping down Fifth Avenue between my equally small older brother and our fashionable mother. Easter, 1949, the caption read. My mother wore a black veil, white gloves, and a fox stole with its jaws biting its tail to secure it around her shoulders. I recognized the fox, which still hung in the coat closet. I recognized my brother and mother, though I’d never known them so young. But who was that other toddler?

“That’s Josie,” my mother informed me. “She was our foster child.”

“We had a foster child?” Every word of that sentence sounded improbable.

Full article @ authoraimeeliu.Medium.com

Nostalgia for the East Coast Bonded Us in a West Coast ER

Nostalgia for the East Coast Bonded Us in a West Coast ER
by Aimee Liu

Hometown memories become a source of cheer during medical emergencies

 

The Dust Storm of First Memories: When you belong to a different world than the one you’re supposed to call home

The Dust Storm of First Memories: When you belong to a different world than the one you’re supposed to call home
by Aimee Liu

My first memories take me back to the rooftop terrace in Delhi where my family slept on hot summer nights when I was three years old. Part of me will forever lie awake under that ocean of stars, the desert sky stretching wide and deep and uncannily quiet, the darkness pungent with dung smoke infused with night-blooming jasmine. Around me, my parents and older brother form a protective ring of shadows.

Then, as if by the flick of a switch, the wind erupts. Dust howls out of nowhere, whipping us into action. We move in a panic of flapping sheets and hoisted cots, making for the stairwell and down to our white, sweltering flat, where the sand beats savagely against the shutters, like a stranger demanding to be let in.

I was not born in India, but as far as memory is concerned, Delhi was my first home. There my mind and senses awoke, chasing snails into pools of shade, hiding under the garden’s frangipani, or rising on tiptoes to watch the daily parade of cows and elephants and sadhus trudging the unpaved road below our balcony. I loved the long-lashed camels dressed in tassels and bright-colored blankets. Who knew where they were going, where they’d traveled from?

Full article @ authoraimeeliu.Medium.com

For Writers Especially: How to Manage Research Rapture

For Writers Especially: How to Manage Research Rapture
by Aimee Liu

I once heard the late novelist Oakley Hall describe “research rapture” as an occupational hazard of fiction writing — one that too often consumes both writers and their work. I knew precisely what he meant. It’s easy for me to get so enthralled in the hunt for details about, say, midget submarines in WWII, that I fail to notice how much of the information I’m collecting serves absolutely no purpose in my novel.

Research rapture can cost you time and send you off on complicated tangents that will muck up your story and leave you stranded in a swamp of fascinating but irrelevant details. How to negotiate that edge between enough background information… and infinity? Here are 6 tips that have helped me maintain a productive balance while writing my historical novels.

Read the original article on Medium @HumanParts HERE.

"Like Singing a Song" About the Most Magical Father I Never Met

"Like Singing a Song" About the Most Magical Father I Never Met
by Aimee Liu
In my experience, fathers tend to fall into two general camps. There are the dads so preoccupied with their own interests and careers and financially supporting their families that they rarely interact with their kids. Then there are the dads who strive for an active role in their children’s lives: They change their diapers and teach them sports, counsel them as they grow up, and worry about their futures. But then again, imagine a father who would write an operetta for his children, with parts for each to sing to fend off homesickness when they’re far from home.

Read the original article on Medium @HumanParts HERE.
 

Family Photos Can Change You

Family Photos Can Change You
by Aimee Liu

Lucky for me, my father was a packrat. Dad spoke little about his childhood in China during the Warlord Era, but he kept suitcases full of artifacts, most of which only surfaced after his death in 2007. Among these mementos, I discovered photographs that swept me back in time and introduced me to relatives who belonged to a lost world.

At a glance, these fading images seem like curiosities in a museum, so antiquated that they couldn’t possibly connect to life on Earth today. But to me, their faces have the haunting power of ghosts. They beckon me closer, hold me longer, and keep drawing me back. “We are your people,” they seem to say. “We are your kin, your tribe. We belong to you and you to us.”

Read the original article with all photographs @Medium Human Parts HERE
 

 

Writing Through Emergency: Essential lessons for creative writers from Amanda Gorman and Eugene Goodman

Writing Through Emergency: Essential lessons for creative writers from Amanda Gorman and Eugene Goodman
by Aimee Liu


Several weeks ago, as I began composing an MFA commencement address to deliver at my college this month, I found myself returning over and over to two particular words: emergence and emergency. The connection was hardly a mystery. The writers who were about to graduate would be emerging into a moment of historical emergency. Global pandemic. Economic crisis. Racial conflict boiling over. A serious threat of civil war shadowing America. In short, the kind of uncertainty and real-life drama that no one would wish on their least-loved characters.
What surprised me was that I’d never thought of those two words in the same breath before...

Code Talking: An Excerpt from Glorious Boy

Code Talking: An Excerpt from Glorious Boy
by Aimee Liu

During World War II, thousands of women were employed by the Allies as code breakers both in Europe and across Asia. In the Pacific Theater, the U.S. Marine Corps also recruited some 500 Navajo code talkers to transmit messages in their native language, because it was unintelligible to the Japanese. In my WWII novel Glorious Boy, Claire Durant volunteers to use her knowledge of indigenous languages to both break and make codes for the British in Calcutta in 1942.
 

The Primal Power of Stories That Evoke Yearning and Dread

The Primal Power of Stories That Evoke Yearning and Dread
by Aimee Liu
Primal emotion is the aim of all great writing. By primal I mean the deepest, oldest, and most fundamental wellsprings of human need. And since yearning and dread are the most fundamental of all emotions, they’re essential for serious writers to command.

Your 2020 Year-end Lockdown List for Book Groups!

Your 2020 Year-end Lockdown List for Book Groups!
by Aimee Liu

I belong to a fabulous and diverse group of 2020 authors. We call ourselves Lockdown Literature, or Lockies for short, and we’ve launched a “share the wealth” campaign to introduce you to some of the many authors who would love to visit your group, either virtually or (when permissible) in person, in 2021.


 

How Creative Generosity Can Prevent Loneliness

How Creative Generosity Can Prevent Loneliness
by Aimee Liu
This year is taking a dangerous toll on our social lives. Rates of loneliness and depression have spiked since the start of the pandemic, and teens, young adults and the elderly are especially vulnerable. This shouldn’t surprise us, since human beings are social animals; we’re wired to be in physical proximity with each other and to need social contact. But many people with chronic and serious illnesses have been grappling with the social challenges of quarantine for a lot longer than six months. It makes sense, then, to look to these lockdown masters for social survival lessons.

Pathos and Bathos in “The Crown”

Pathos and Bathos in “The Crown”
by Aimee Liu
Discovering the royal keys to addictive drama
pathos
1 : an element in experience or in artistic representation evoking pity or compassion
2 : an emotion of sympathetic pity
bathos
1 : an abrupt, presumably unintended juxtaposition of the exalted and the commonplace, producing a ludicrous effect
2 : insincere or overdone pathos : sentimentalism

Is Your Child a Late Talker? The reason might be Einstein Syndrome

Is Your Child a Late Talker? The reason might be Einstein Syndrome
by Aimee Liu
Most late talkers do not have autism.Alas, this distinction is often lost on doctors and other clinicians who diagnose autism without fully exploring other possible causes of speech delay-- like Einstein Syndrome. This error can lead to needless pain and heartache for families of bright, healthy children whose late talking is actually a sign of mental precocity in mathematical, musical, and analytic thinking.