Ross Island, India circa 1936, the setting of Aimee's novel-in-progress

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 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.

ďOur culture trains women to relinquish power over their own body image to others; too often women see themselves only as they think Ė or are told Ė 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.Ē

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 Indiaís 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. Theaís 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…)


December 8, 2009

Tags: book publicity, writing life, cloud mountain, flash house

Waiting for the Call

A new old entry! Sweet memory. September 22, 1997. The interview in question is about Cloud Mountain, published the previous spring. The novel-in-waiting is Flash House, then in the earliest stages of gestation. Disaster will indeed strike in the course of writing this novel, and it won't see publication for another five long hard years. Sigh.

I'm expecting a call from a radio interviewer this morning, to discuss the novel I published last spring, publicized last summer, and have half forgotten in the wind-up for the new novel I'm trying to start writing. This is the twilight zone period in writing. (more…)


November 29, 2009


Several years ago I screwed up my courage and did something I'd imagined I could not do. I went to graduate school and earned an MFA in creative writing. I was over 50, and to my surprise, about a third of my class at Bennington also were mid-lifers. We had a lot of living under our collective belt and wanted to hone our writing to better give voice to our experience.

Many of us were already published authors. Since graduation, many of our other classmates have been published in literary journals, small press novels, and chapbooks. In this economy, it's been harder than ever for new authors to get picked up by major houses. But one of the lucky ones is my classmate John Coats.

I am delighted to tell you that John's first book ORIGINAL SINNERS has just been published by the Free Press imprint of Simon & Schuster. (more…)


November 9, 2009

Tags: titles, writing life, novel, Flash House


I need a title for my new book. In the usual, and probably ultimate, way of things I would find this title upon reflection and rereading of a finished manuscript. (more…)

Ghost World (By Anonymous)

October 31, 2009

Tags: ghost writing, publishing industry, false memoirs

I feel a bit transparent this Halloween. You see, for the past six months Iíve been a ghost. That means no habeus corpus, no credit, no identity. Iím so insubstantial I canít tell you whether Iím writing a kiss-and-tell or a how-to or a what-if, or all of the above. I canít name the author of the book Iím writing. I canít even name myself! But worst of all, from my new vantage point I can see that todayís publishing business is riddled with spectral writers Ė some of whom donít even know theyíre ghosts.

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 womenís struggles with anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders, this is the first book to bring together many peopleís 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