Friday, October 15, 2010

Big Read Mystery Panel, part 3: Qiu Xiaolong

Qiu Xiaolong was is a novelist and poet who was born in Shanghai, but currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri. Qiu is the author of the popular and award-winning Inspector Chen series, including The Mao Case, Red Mandarin Dress, and A Case of Two Cities (which is set in both St. Louis and Shanghai). He has a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Washington University. His books have been published in twenty languages, and have sold over a million copies.

  • When asked about his motivation for writing mysteries, Qiu spoke of mysteries as a form of sociological study. 
  • His books are set in the city of Shanghai. However, when translated into Chinese, Shanghai was changed to the fictionalized "H City". When A Case of Two Cities came out, he argued that since one of the two cities was the real city of St. Louis, it was important to use the real name of Shanghai as well. As a result, that book has not yet been published in China.
  • Food and memories, he says, are intertwined.
  • Qiu laughingly says that the Chinese food in St. Louis is ... "not bad".
  • Write what you know, he says, and you will be able to write with confidence.
  • Qiu outlines his books, but as his writing progresses the outline constantly changes.
  • He recommends shelving a first draft for several months before beginning to revise.
  • He agrees with Lutz that character is the most important element of a novel.
  • Qiu is inspired by the poetry of T.S. Eliot.
Part 4 will be about Caroline Todd's part of the panel discussion.


Jess said...

Thanks for the profile! I like the idea of mysteries as sociological studies. The bullet point about food and memories being intertwined is so true :)

Ruth Donnelly said...

I agree--guess that's why certain foods (and smells) are so evocative.