Vanessa Hua is a debut novelist who has received stellar praise from some of our favorite authors Celeste Ng and Emma Cline. For 20 years, Vanessa has immersed herself in writing about Asia and the unique stories of the people who live in China, Burma, Panama, South Korea and Ecuador. With the publication of her first novel A River of Stars only a few weeks away, we’re celebrating the award-winning author all month long as the She Reads Guest Editor. Learn more about the author now and look out for exclusive content from Vanessa all month long.
What inspired you to write A River of Stars?
While living in Southern California and pregnant with my twin sons, I began hearing about maternity hotels getting busted. What’s a maternity hotel? There’s an underground industry to house Chinese women coming to the U.S. to give birth so that their children will receive U.S. citizenship. Neighbors were asking why there were so many pregnant Chinese women coming and going into suburban homes. It sounded like a brothel in reverse! What was it like, I wondered, to be so far from home and family at one of the most vulnerable times in your life?
When I was pregnant, I found that people treated me very generously, very kindly – offering me a place at the front of the line, or giving up their seat. They asked me when I was due, if I was having a boy or girl and shared stories about their families. But when you have a dozen pregnant women under one roof, who gets the most sympathy and good wishes, who is the Queen Bee? It seemed like a situation ripe for drama – and ripe for comedy.