Santa Clara resident Stacey Lee (www.staceyhlee.com) received a Proclamation from the Santa Clara City Council for her work as a young adult author. City Council Member Kathy Watanabe nominated Lee. To date, Lee’s novels are “The Secret of a Heart Note,” “Under a Painted Sky,” “Outrun the Moon” and most recently, “The Downstairs Girl,” with the last three titles being historical fiction.
Lee shared a few words at the October City Council meeting.
“As I was writing down my thoughts, I realized all my books have some connection to Santa Clara,” Lee said. “I talked about how I came to live in Santa Clara. [My husband] Jonathan and I got married at the Triton Museum, right next door to City Hall. I was moving from Sacramento, where I was working as a lawyer, and I was driving down to LA, where my parents are. On my way down from Sacramento, I swung by Milpitas for a job interview. I got the job. I found a house in Santa Clara. I’ve lived in Santa Clara since 2002. I was pregnant with my first child when I moved into the house.”
Lee was happy to share that The New York Times had reviewed the “The Downstairs Girl.”
“I always like to take an unexamined piece of history and use that as a starting point for my books,” Lee said. “‘The Downstairs Girl’ is about a girl in 1890 in Atlanta, Georgia who lives secretly in the basement of the print shop that she works in. She becomes the Dear Abby of the South and takes on all these social issues and affects social change through her advice column. People don’t know she is a Chinese girl writing as a white woman. 1890 is a big year for many social issues — Jim Crow laws, the reconstruction of the South, women’s suffrage.
“The advice letters give her a chance to examine these social issues and show what it was like for a Chinese girl living in the South who was not white and not black, which were the only two colors that mattered back then,” Lee continued. “This was what I wanted my book to explore — the Chinese living in the South during that time. They were brought over during the post-Civil War to replace the field slaves.”
Lee is currently working on her next historical fiction novel.
“There were eight Chinese men on the Titanic and six of them survived,” Lee said. “This book will probably come out in 2021.”
In 2017, Lee’s book “Outrun the Moon” received a Literature Award from Asian Pacific American Librarians Association and a PEN Center USA Literary award in the Young Adult category.
“The best part of my job is being able to wrestle with issues that occur to me and show them in a way that is entertaining but also reflects what has been on my mind,” Lee said. “There is something fulfilling about having someone read my thoughts.”