Lloyd Lofthouse earned a BA in journalism after fighting in Vietnam as a U. S. Marine. He then taught English and journalism in the public schools by day and for a time worked as a maitre d’ in a multimillion-dollar nightclub by night. He now lives near San Francisco with his wife, Anchee Min, and they have a second home in Shanghai, China.
1. Tell us about your latest book.
I will let the reviewers and judges tell you about “My Splendid Concubine”.
2009 San Francisco Book Festival Winner – Honorable Mention in General Fiction
2008 London Book Festival Winner – Honorable Mention in Fiction
“Packed cover to cover with intriguing characters and plot, a must read for historical fiction fans and a fine addition to any collection on the genre” – Midwest Book Review
“If even half of Lofthouse’s narrative is true, it’s a stunning work that enmeshes imperialism, modernity, miscegenation and plain old desire in a sweaty matrix of destruction and painful birth.” – City Weekend Magazine
“Those who are interested in unconventional romances with an out-of-the-ordinary setting will find plenty to enjoy.”
– Historical Novels Review
“Hart’s struggles adapting to Chinese culture, always feeling the pull and force of his Victorian British background, are compelling. His relationships with his concubine and his concubine’s sister are poignant—the novel is as much a study of the complexities of love as it is anything else. A powerful novel …”
– Judge of 2008 Writer’s Digest Self Published Book Awards
“Lofthouse eloquently weaves together historical facts into the lives and emotions of his characters … here is a story that will help you understand how one period can change the direction of the future—all for the love of a single woman.”
– Peter N. Jones, Great New Books
2. How did you get started as a writer?
After Vietnam and the United States Marines, I went to college on the GI Bill. During my first year in college, Ray Bradbury visited and I attended his lecture. Listening to Bradbury motivated me to write. I signed up for a creative writing class the next semester. That was in 1968 and 1969. I haven’t stopped writing.
3. What’s a typical day like for you?
I spent the first hour or two exercising before going to my office and getting started. The first few hours are spent on the Internet replying and sending e-mails in addition to doing what I can to promote my writing. I wrote and post poems, articles and post previews on Websites like Authors Den for the next two books I plan to publish.
4. Describe your workspace.
My workspace is a hundred square foot office on the ground floor of our hillside home. The computer sits in front of a window. The view is of trees—many trees. I built bookshelves against three walls. There are two filing cabinets. Art hangs on the walls. Chinese woodcarvings collected while on research trips to China sit on top the bookshelves.
5. Favorite books?
The list is long. This is a sample:
Lord of the Rings
Interview with the Vampire
Memoires of a Geisha
all of James Lee Burke’s books
all of Patrick O’Brian’s books
6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you:
1. I came back from Vietnam combat with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and cannot sleep without a weapon of some kind near-at-hand. If the crickets outside the house stop chirping, I wake alert.
2. For several years, I was a maître in a multi-million dollar nightclub and gained a nickname from the other employees. They called me “Disco Lloyd”. A friend, who was also a school counselor, told me I was an introvert extrovert and switched back and forth depending on the situation.
3. I don’t mind trekking into the mountains in winter when the snow is hip deep and few hikers are around. I also like to ski in blizzards since the slopes are empty and you don’t have to wait in lines.
7. Favorite quote?
“You can fool some of the people most of the time and most of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” I believe Abraham Lincoln said this.
8. Best and worst part of being a writer?
I enjoy the right brain activity that takes place while writing the rough draft of a novel. The left-brain activity necessary to edit and revise is a tedious, necessary pain that many writers seem to avoid.
9. Advice to writers?
Writing is about story and craft, so never stop learning how to write because the competition is fierce. If you love to tell stories, never give up the dream that others around the world will read your writing one day.
10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.
I started writing in 1968. By 1973, I had earned a BA in journalism. For seven years in the 1980s, I drove more than a hundred miles each week to attend a writing workshop out of UCLA. Most of the writers in that workshop ended up published. Marjorie Miller, the instructor, eventually believed my work was ready and connected me with a big name agent.
That novel was about Vietnam. I came back from that war with PTSD. I sweated ink to write that story. However, at the time, no one was publishing Vietnam since the market was glutted with that topic and the reading public wasn’t buying. The agent dropped me once he couldn’t place my work. However, decades later, A Night at the Well of Purity, a chapter from that novel, was a finalist for the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards.
I started an MFA at Cal Poly, Pomona and finished it a decade later at another university. Almost every step I have taken since 1968 was done to improve my writing.
I spent thirty years in the classroom as an English and journalism teacher. My students won state and regional awards in poetry, short stories and in journalism. The school paper I was advisor for won international recognition five years in a row.
For most writers that refuse to quit, writing turns into a painful labor of love. That is what it has been for me.
Where can people buy your book or learn more about you?