Texas author and TWU alumna, Weina Dai Randel, M. A. 2005 English, has received wonderful reviews for her debut historical novels about Empress Wu, the one and only female ruler of China. The inspiration for the novels, The Moon in the Palace and The Empress of Bright Moon, date back to her childhood in China and her interest in classical Chinese literature, but she credits her time at Texas Woman’s University as the catalyst for their ultimate creation.
Empress Wu, also known as Wu Zetian, is a house-hold name in China. China was prosperous and progressive during her reign. As a powerful ruler, she championed education for women and employed women scholars in her court. In her government, she even appointed a woman as prime minister. After many years of researching Chinese history, Weina knew that she wanted to tell the story of Chinese dynasties and particularly, Empress Wu.
After coming to the United States at the age of 24, Weina worked as a journalist, a magazine editor and as an adjunct professor. When considering where to enroll to study for her master’s degree, she visited Texas Woman’s University and met Dr. Hugh Burns. “Dr. Burns, who was chair of the English Department then, was instrumental in my enrollment. He advised me what classes to take, what skills I needed to prepare for my graduate studies, and basically every detail in enrollment. Without him, I probably wouldn’t have studied at TWU.”
Others on the faculty were very instrumental in her development as a writer and her career path, as well. “I was inspired to write about Empress Wu, the main character of my two novels, when I took a class from Dr. Phyllis Bridges. In fact, many of her classes were inspirational. I also studied Byron from Dr. Lou Thompson, post-colonialism from Dr. Russell Greer, and Toni Morrison from Dr. Stephen Souris; each class was a treasure to me, even today.”
Writing comes easily to her, Weina says, but even so she occasionally experiences ‘writer’s block.’ “Sometimes it lasts for a day, sometimes a few weeks. Occasionally, I have difficulty fixing some vital transitions in a story for months,” shares the author. “Don’t give up,” she advises aspiring writers. “Keep reading and writing. Try to write every day, even if it’s only for 5 minutes.” In a recent TV interview, Weina shared that her novels were rejected 82 times before being published. Her persistence has been rewarded now that the novels have been published. Not only have they received excellent reviews, the author has been in demand for personal appearances. More information is available on her website.
Is there another book in progress? “I just finished my third novel, and it’s set in China and a university in Texas. I have not decided where my next novel would be set, but it’s my focus and always my love to explore stories about women, well-known or forgotten, their struggles, and their strength.” In addition to her writing interests, Weina and her husband are parents of two children.
Texas Woman’s University and the TWU Alumni Association congratulate Weina Dai Randel and wish her continuing success in her literary career.