Innovating ‘Legacy & Lore’ — an author’s newsletter on Substack

Join in the hunt for my father’s mysterious treasure box

My father, age 4, 1916, Shanghai. Photo courtesy of author

Happy 2022 !

I spent the holidays finishing up an assignment that’s consumed most of my energy for 14 months, and today I’m savoring the prospect of concentrating on my own work going forward. That work includes a memoir about my father that I started shortly after his death, way back in 2007. A lot of other books and projects have interrupted completion of Dad’s mystery, as I’ve come to think of it, but my resolution is to finish it this year. And that’s why I’m writing to you.

After posting several excerpts from the memoir on Medium, I’ve discovered that there’s quite a lot of interest in my research and in my family’s uniquely Chinese-American story. I can’t overstate how much this interest helps as I push ahead with what sometimes seems a Sisyphean writing task. That’s why I’ve decided to devote my newsletter over on Substack to the Legacy & Lore related to this project, including everything from historical tales of China to the craft of fiction and memoir writing.

Here’s the short version of Dad’s mystery:

My father was born in China, the first son of a Chinese scholar-revolutionary and his white American wife, and emigrated to the U.S. at age nineteen in 1932. That much I’d known all my life. But when Dad was dying, he asked me to bring him a box that he said contained a treasure. In the process of hunting for — and eventually finding — that box, I discovered secrets I’d never imagined, including lost family members and shameful betrayals, as well as a fascinating legacy of ancestral wealth, idealism, and tragedy.

I learned only a fragment of this story before Dad was gone, and I’m still piecing it together today. What’s emerging is helping me solve not only the mystery of my father’s enigmatic identity but also the riddle of my parents’ fraught marriage and, especially, my own struggles as a daughter of mixed-race descent.

Such insights are the most exciting and rewarding part of writing any memoir, and it can be frustrating to “sit on them” until the whole manuscript is completed and published. So I’ve decided to take a different route this time, one that I’ve never taken with any of my other books. I’m going to keep snipping and sharing tales from the memoir in this newsletter as I go. That way, you can come along on this wild writing ride. You will keep me honest. And I hope you’ll find Dad’s mystery as compelling as I do. We’ll figure out the ending together!

So please check out Legacy & Lore, and subscribe using the link below if you like what you read there. It’s free!

Aimee Liu is the author of four novels, six nonfiction titles, and too many ghostwritten bestsellers to reveal. Her latest novel is Glorious Boy.




Author, Asian-American novels (Glorious Boy), nonfiction on eating disorders (Gaining), writing, wellness. Published @Hachette. MFA & more@

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Aimee Liu

Aimee Liu

Author, Asian-American novels (Glorious Boy), nonfiction on eating disorders (Gaining), writing, wellness. Published @Hachette. MFA & more@

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