Yvette Ho Madany was born in Shanghai and educated in the US. She is the author of Shanghai Story Walks (2009).
Why I write
Because I enjoy writing and want to share stories of my hometown and its history.
Do you write every day? If so, how many hours?
Alas, no, some weeks I write a couple hours almost every day, but other weeks go by when I don’t get a chance to write at all.
Worst source of distraction?
Frequently I get distracted by household chores.
Best source of inspiration?
Old people tell me their fascinating stories, and I feel I need to record them.
How often do you get writers’ block/doubt your own ability?
More often than I would like.
Contemporary writer in any medium who you never miss?
Khaled Hosseini, Fouad Ajami, Maeve Binchy, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.
Favorite Chinese writer?
Amy Tan and Qian Zhongshu (Fortress Besieged).
Best book about China?
The Dream of the Red Chamber.
There are so many: A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd…
Agatha Christie, because she wrote to entertain, and her characters expose a timeless variety of human behavior.
The book you should have read but haven’t?
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, since most of the English language books I’ve read are British, and I feel I should have read some classic American books.
You look back at the first thing you had published and think…
Wow, I was so lucky to learn about Shanghai’s history and culture and share them with others.
How did you get started writing?
I was a temporary expat in Shanghai and wanted to share the city’s fascinating past with others on a permanent basis. Besides my book, Shanghai Story Walks, I wrote on historical topics for the Shanghai Expatriate Association’s monthly magazine, The Courier.
Does writing change anything?
Yes, it makes my brain work harder, and I hope my writing gives joy to others.