One of the Andaman locations in my new novel.

Ross Island, India circa 1936, another setting in the new novel.

OUT TAKES from this novelist's cutting room floor...bits and pieces of story, research, and process

New posts will consist of sketches, sections, "dress rehearsals" and edits from my latest work-in-progress.
Consider them warm-up acts!

Reflections on a life among words

OUT TAKES from this novelist's cutting room floor...bits and pieces of story, research, and process

Take 8 in Aimee Liu's new fiction serial

December 13, 2014

Tags: British India, Aimee Liu, historical novel, Andaman, 1937

In which Thea and Shep welcome a new life to the Andamans

June, 1937

The ceiling fan offered a point of focus as Thea counted through her contractions and tried to ignore the torrents of rain smashing down on the roof. All through the hospital, pails had been set out to catch the leaks, around which teams of lizards raced, little phantoms against the green mildewed wall stains. One, two, three, four. The young Indian nurses hummed as they wiped her brow, and the daring giggled at Shep’s brooding presence hour after hour. (more…)

Take 7 in Aimee Liu's new fiction serial

December 6, 2014

Tags: andaman, wwii, india, british india

As every writer knows, a book is comprised of many moveable parts, and plot is structured through a combination of time and space travel as well as chronological action. One of the toughest decisions when writing a large story is the selection of the opening scene. Get the reader acquainted with the characters first? Or throw the protagonist into trouble? I opted to launch this series of outtakes with scenes to get you acquainted with Thea and Shep and their newly-wedded move to the Andaman Islands. But the scene I’ve selected to open the actual book occurs four years later, well into WWII. That scene is today’s Take 7. (more…)

take 6 in aimee's new fiction blog

November 28, 2014

Tags: andaman islands, ross island, british india, colonialism, aimee liu, historical novel, anthropology

In this diary entry, Thea reveals why all her grand plans to become the next Margaret Mead may be jeopardized.

January 4, 1937
Why do I find such comfort in graveyards? It’s not that I think them sacred, exactly, and with all the death they contain – so many different kinds of death – (more…)

Thanksgiving Advice to my fellow writers

November 27, 2014

Tags: writing advice, Thanksgiving

I’m thinking on this Thanksgiving Day that writing is like a complicated recipe.

First you need to gather the ingredients (ideas) and envision the final product; you have to have a general vision for the end result and know what it is you’re making. Then you combine the first batch of ingredients (more…)

Take 5 in Aimee Liu's new blog series

November 22, 2014

Tags: British India, Aimee Liu, historical novel, Andaman, 1936

Take 5 from my which Thea meets an unexpected member of her new household.
October 12, 1936
By the time we fell into bed last night we'd received our luggage, made a preliminary appearance at the club -- we seem to be the youngest members by at least a decade -- and (more…)

Take 4 in Aimee Liu's new blog series

November 15, 2014

Tags: andaman islands, ross island, british india, colonialism, aimee liu, historical novel

Out Take #4 is a sketch of Ross Island, headquarters of the Colonial administration of the Andaman Islands in the early 1900s. Ross is also where Shep and Thea live before disaster strikes. [See earlier blog posts to catch up with the story.]

Ross bazaar, in stark contrast to the spacious bungalows of the European Zone, consisted of two rows of brick shop houses that plunged down the incline in the southern -- Indian -- end of the island to land at the Hindu temple. The bazaar and temple, as well as a small shark-netted beach farther along the shore, served the ministerial staff, Indian clerks, doctors, and military police quartered in the Native Zone, as well as the servants from the European residences and barracks on the upper end of the island. (more…)

Take 3 in Aimee Liu's new blog series of Out Takes

November 8, 2014

Tags: Calcutta, British India, Aimee Liu, historical novel, Andaman, 1936

Out take #3 is from the latest draft of my novel-in-progress...
In which Thea and Shep sail from Calcutta in 1936 to their new home: the Andaman Islands.

The weather changed for their four-day crossing to the Andamans, and Thea spent most of her time aboard the S.S. Maharaja sick to her stomach. Not until the last morning did the skies clear and the water change from black to iridescent green. She let Shep drag her up on deck as Land Fall Island hove into view. This small pincushion of palm trees was dwarfed by the green monolith of North Andaman behind it.

A Room of Her Own interviews Aimee Liu

November 5, 2014

Tags: A Room of Her Own, short fiction contest, Aimee Liu, body image, creativity, MFA in creative writing

Sharing an interview that A Room of Her Own just did with me.

“Our culture trains women to relinquish power over their own body image to others; too often women see themselves only as they think – or are told – others see them. If and when women can own their own sense of their bodies, including the pleasure and comfort and strength and wisdom that their bodies supply, then a positive relationship between body image and creativity can flourish.”

Take 2 in Aimee Liu's new blog series

November 2, 2014

Tags: Calcutta, British India, Aimee Liu, historical novel

Out takes from a novel:

Take 2
In which Thea and Shep arrive in Calcutta, 1936

In Calcutta Shep was to be briefed by the Director-General, in from Delhi for a meeting of the specialist medical appointees for Bengal. For the week that this induction required they'd been booked into the Fairhaven Hotel, a verdant oasis in the city center run by the redoubtable Mrs. Sark. Ruby, as she insisted they call her, immediately took Thea under her wing. "Don't you worry," she'd shoo Shep off to his meetings each morning. "Your pigeon be safe with me."

Thea was eager to set out and discover the "deep, full-throated boom of life and motion and humanity" that Kipling had promised in his City of Dreadful Night. From the carriage they'd taken to the hotel, she'd smelled India’s famous dung smoke, mustered a smile for the filthy children pleading lugubriously with hands outstretched, and marveled at the spice-tinged colors that seemed to drape the air. But Shep made her promise (more…)

Take 1 in a New Blog Series from Aimee Liu

October 27, 2014

Tags: Aimee Liu, creative process, Andaman Islands, 21 Club, Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, Coming of Age in Samoa, Columbia, Barnard, China Weekly Review, Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, Gauguin, La Orana Maria, British India

Pieces it pains me to cut
Like most writers I know, I tend to edit out about half -- or more -- of the original material I compose, and many of those cuts are made reluctantly. Some cuts, of course, go deservedly straight to the trash bin, but others are sacrifices for the greater good of a piece that needs to be ever tighter, faster, more to the point, and more urgent. Tangents, characters, subplots, and extraneous scenes can all wind up on the chopping block. Some of these out-takes will get re-worked in the same piece or re-tooled for another. And some are like sketches in a painter's atelier, valuable and interesting in their own right as a reflection of one phase of the artistic process. Indeed, the idea for this blog series was suggested by my dear friend, the brilliant artist Carolyn Hall Young. "Why not share your sketches?" she asked. And it's true; I have the equivalent of many portfolios stuffed with what I call "salvage sections." Consider these as sketches of work in progress, or early takes of a film; every detail is subject to change -- and, it goes without saying,be VASTLY improved! -- in the final product. As we go along, I may also post some of the fascinating research that inspires me.

The first series of out-takes will come from a novel I've been working on for several years, set primarily in British India circa World War II. But it begins (in this out-take) in 1936 with the whirlwind courtship in New York City of a young American and aspiring anthropologist named Thea March and an only slightly older British doctor named Sheppard Durrell.

Take 1:

Their courtship began in May, 1936, with a chance introduction at the 21 Club. Thea March, Sheppard Durrell. The student and the surgeon. Thea’s first impressions: a boyish mop of gingery hair, devastating sea-glass green eyes, a veil of freckles stretched palely across patrician cheekbones to bridge a delicate nose. He had lanky height, square shoulders, and that worldly British accent, plus a twist of humor tucked inside his smile that promised to keep her hopping. Love at first sight? Not by a yard, but he'd make for a welcome shift from the braggards and drones that had dominated her campus years. (more…)

below for more about Aimee's books & work.

a suspenseful novel of rescue and redemption set in Central Asia at the start of the Cold War, featuring two unforgettable heroines whose fates are irrevocably intertwined.
The unforgettable tale of star-crossed love that spans four decades and two continents.
A young photographer wrestles with her repressed past and identity as an Amerasian in New York's Chinatown. Now back in print after more than a decade, FACE is Aimee's first novel.
Work on Eating Disorders
While there are numerous memoirs available chronicling individual women’s struggles with anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders, this is the first book to bring together many people’s stories to create a complete and candid picture of the recovery process. Aimee Liu has skillfully brought together firsthand accounts of recovery to create a realistic roadmap for the journey. This book also includes informational sidebars, written by professionals in the field, on topics including treatment options, choosing the right therapist, the pros and cons of medication, how parents and spouses can help, and much more.
How do anorexia and bulimia impact life AFTER recovery? GAINING is one of the first books about eating disorders to connect the latest scientific insights to the personal truth of life before, during, and especially after anorexia and bulimia.
America's first memoir of anorexia, and one of the earliest books about eating disorders, originally published in 1979
Craft & Criticism
Resources and suggestions for students and fellow writers
Aimee's latest book reviews