The writer Carolyn See looks at life in Los Angeles against a backdrop of terrorism in her latest novel, There Will Never Be Another You.
Carolyn See says her latest work of fiction is about Los Angeles, a city that is home to every conceivable group of immigrants. Each has its own language, customs and ways of behaving.
"A place like Los Angeles, it's like a lot of Chinese firecrackers going off. You just don't know what the hell is going to be happening next," she said. "So I love to write about LA because it's amorphous, it's spread out, you can't figure it out. The whole phrase, 'You can't get there from here is made for LA.'"
Most of the action in the story takes place in the near future, against a vaguely defined threat of terrorism.
One of the book's main characters, a medical doctor, is enlisted in preparations
against a potential bioterrorist attack. The threat is vague but ominous, and the government's response is clumsy.
But that is all in the background. The book looks at ordinary people, who live their day-to-day lives in an atmosphere of heightened anxiety.
"There's a huge group of Chinese immigrants, a kind of left-over white Protestant family, other characters of every type that are just kind of wandering through , and trying as best they can to put a good face on it and be grown-ups. And you know, we don't succeed all that well," described See.
See has written both fiction and non-fiction, and even some Hollywood scripts. A long-time book reviewer, she has also composed a guidebook for aspiring authors, called Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers.
She offers this advice: write what you know about.
"You can't really invent something that you've never seen, but you put two or three people together and they turn into a character that you have never know before. It's like making biscuits or something. You throw in a little milk, a little baking powder, an egg, and stir it up, and it's a biscuit," she explained.
She also advises discretion for the would-be writer.
"Don't embarrass your children by telling other people that you're a writer or that you want to be," said See. "Just keep mum about the whole thing, and then everybody will thank you for it in the long run."
The author is keeping quiet about the outcome of her latest book, not wanting to spoil the story for future readers. She says the greatest threat the characters face comes not from terrorism but from their inner fears, and that her Los Angeles story has a happy ending.