Lisa See

Brooke and Grant talk research with one of the most preeminent novelists of our time, Lisa See, who’s known for the in-depth research she’s done for her many best-selling books, most of which are set in China. Listen in as Lisa shares secrets and best practices about the research process and writing in general, and her thoughts about what it’s like to have a book (in her case Snow Flower and the Secret Fan) truly “break out” (and why she’s happy it didn’t happen to her with her debut effort).


Lisa See’s new novel, The Island of Sea Women, is about the free-diving women of South Korea’s Jeju Island. Booklist called The Island of Sea Women “stupendous… enthralling…and engrossing.” See is the New York Times bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, Shanghai Girls, China Dolls, and Dreams of Joy, which debuted at #1. She is also the author of On Gold Mountain, which tells the story of her Chinese American family’s settlement in Los Angeles. She was also named National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women. You can learn more about Lisa See at

The Takeaway: Prep Yourself to Be a Good Researcher

Are you writing a book that entails research? Will you be interviewing people? Limiting your research to what’s online? Do you need to take a trip to another part of the country, or out of the country?

Make a list of what you think you need to do for your research—things and subjects you need to know more about, people you might interview, authors whose work you might read. Pace yourself, too, because there’s nothing more daunting than the abyss that research can become—whether you’re working on fiction or nonfiction.

If you can afford it, take the trips you need to take because you never know what insights you might find. If not, Google Earth is incredible, and there are so many resources for researchers these days—from documentaries, to interviews, to newspaper and magazine archives, to good old-fashioned books. We also recommend hiring a research assistant—another worthwhile investment that frees you up to write.

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