Heather’s Books


Book One: Less Than Mystery-“The Fucking Book” (2014.1-2015.10)

It is almost as thick as the length of this lighter; total 6 parts, 484 pages, 129,237 words. It has taken three versions of  the manuscript. The very first one, which was finished within one week, was crap. The whole book took me about two years to complete – one year of writing, one year changing and editing. More precisely, if not counting the parts when suffering from writer’s block, traveling and worrying about other things, it would be half a year of writing and half a year of changing and editing. It is sometimes like a lighthouse sometimes a nightmare. 

Why is it the Fucking Book? Because  sometimes it weighs as heavy as my heart can carry, sometimes as thin as the air that my lungs need to breath in and, more importantly, because it holds my life between something and nothing

It may not be great but absolutely unique. Initially, it is  quite a fanciful illusion – with a structure like Pulp Fiction, a language like William Faulkner, a sort of anger like Henry Miller and a rightful dream for women’s liberation in China like Simone de Beauvoir’s in The Second Sex. What is it now? – My angers, my wonders, my observations and my beliefs wrapped in mysteries. In a word, it has my character.


Book Two: From Gully To Wall – “The Goddamned Book “ (2016.1 to 2019.5)


The first draft of the book was finished in October 2017. I soon joined the First Novel Prize, and had this book professionally appraised in 2018 and re-appraised in 2019. It is now completed. Sorry, no details.



Book Three: The Aura of 2016 – (2019.7 to present)


No details.


Book One, Book Two and Book Three are a trilogy based on the history of my extended family.


PS: Initially, I was trying to write a play, being a big dreamer. But then I started a Chinese book yet without a “happy ending” and without a final title.  It is my first hand writing experience, quite long and quite a “masterpiece” of all my thoughts then. It also includes poems, one is about four pages.  I haven’t done anything about it yet. Here is a related photo:


17 thoughts on “Heather’s Books

  1. writingbolt says:

    From your descriptions, these books sound like paintings made by dipping your body in the paint and throwing yourself against a white wall. So violently labeled with a splash of vulgar. Not exactly enticing…unless you find readers who cuss like sailors. 😛 But, I suppose in that is the Faulkner, the “I don’t give a F” attitude, the internal turmoil.

    But…what are these books about? Are these stories? Autobiographical? Abstract art in words?

    The first title “Less Than Mystery” is intriguing. The other “titles”…eh.

    Are these books collections of varied works or ultimately fictional variations of real life experiences worked into a longer narrative?


    • Heather Cai says:

      You make me feel lucky by answering all your fascinatingly greedy questions.

      Part 1 of “Less than Mystery” is an only slightly fictionalised account of my early life in the valley, at school and then college. Part 2 is a highly fictionalised  account of the early life of an English friend. It is a disaster and I should not have tried to write about something so far outside my experience then. He advised me to throw it away but, at that time, I was stubborn. I suppose I still am, but he was right. Parts 3 to 6 have us meet, introduce a third major character, and on to our adventures in a valley similar to mine. It includes the supernatural, an area where I do have experience. It has some good passages, but not consistent.

      I will dissect Part 1 and create some short stories, but I am aware that it will need more editing. After all it was written years ago while I was still starting to learn.

      “From Gully to Wall” tells a story based around the terrible marriage of my older sister, our interaction with father, the patriarch, and my final bid for freedom running the Great Wall. It was originally called “In Between” to describe my position between my sister and father, but that title has been used too often and not “perfect” enough.


      • writingbolt says:

        What is it about Heathers enjoying questions? 🙂

        In the valley. 😛 I just think of California valley girls of the 80s and all the corny lingo.

        Hmm. Or, maybe your “disaster” is a lesson rippling through time, something to study as you continue creating/writing, to keep you focused. Maybe it looks bad now but looked better once and can work in your favor yet another way some time in the future. If it was truly a futile disaster, would it not be scrap, already? Didn’t you already print/publish all of these?

        ‘Sounds like you have a mystery on your hands. 😛 Zoiks.

        Are these 6 or so parts NOT published, yet?…that you are considering cutting off most of the writing and turning the first part into a collection of short stories?

        Tell me about it. I look back at things I wrote ten or more years ago and see how my writing has evolved. I look back and wonder why I punctuated things the way I did. One thing bugging me now is my repetitive sentence structure. I don’t feel like I have a natural flow of variation as other authors have. I tend to “stitch” paragraphs the same way over and over. And, yet, I don’t understand why some “famous” authors write certain bits the way they do; sometimes their grammar looks wrong or they let slip a few typos…and I sit there thinking, this was a final work that made it passed editors and the lot? This you take pride in as an author? Unreal.

        I’ll admit ‘From Gully to Wall’ is definitely more original/unique, but ‘In Between’ DOES have a nice simplicity about it; and I can see the font in black on a white cover with a slice of the Great Wall beneath the title and two young women running the length. But, yea, ya might still want a title that captures the fullness of the story; versus ‘In Between’ which is a tad vague.


      • Heather Cai says:

        Happily you sound much more experienced a writer. Like the word “stitch” you used to describe the way you write, vividly fascinating.

        When I finished the very first draft of Less Than Mystery, I thought it was a “masterpiece”, because I felt so fucking good. But when I showed it to a writer friend, he said it was crap. I couldn’t believe it. But then I started learning the structure of a novel or the plot of a story or the dialogues instead of all monologue. It took total three versions of the manuscript

        No comments for me to talk about the famous authors yet. I’m into reading classic novels, but I’m too slow, haven’t read much. The ones who have influenced/inspired me are Henry Miller, William Faulkner, Simon De Beauvior, Jean-Paul Sartre, Milan Kundera…

        No, so far, I haven’t officially published anything yet, except for a short story getting published by a magazine, and the book launch is on Nov 29th this month. I have been hunting for agents in the UK & the USA.

        Now I’m more satisfied with From Gully to Wall. I’m going to chop some parts of Less Than Mystery into some short stories, which I was advised to do so. And I’ll be happy to do that.


      • writingbolt says:

        I am an apprentice wizard of metaphors. I have watched many years of Wheel of Fortune and completed countless crossword puzzles. As a writer, I’m no Grisham or Steele; I struggle to complete my first novel mini-series. But, I try.

        Do you like to use “fuck” so casually? Do you (still) smoke?

        Welcome to my world at age 17. I had a portfolio of art from my lifetime I was fairly happy with; then an admissions guy at some art college pretty much said it was crap compared to his painting of a depressed person weeping in a dingy street. And, I was furious. I tossed my portfolio and said I would re-invent myself from that day forward.

        I’m a slow/terrible reader, too. My sis reads books the size of Bibles in a week; those would take me a month, probably, to finish. I prefer to devote my energy to creating, not reading. But, in recent years, I’ve read many books…just to battle anxiety and depression.

        Robin McKinley, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Dickens, Roald Dahl, E. B. White, Beverly Cleary, to name a few; I know none from your list. 😛

        Maybe the short stories could be ripples in a puddle/pond, each story represents one layer to the rippling cover image, like rings on a tree trunk, each a layer of your past.


      • Heather Cai says:

        Thank you for the nice invitation to your interesting world and your beautiful suggestion on rippling my short stories, valuable. You told an impressive story of a 17-year-old you, you got balls in your nutshell, hahaha, good for you. I am 33. Single and free. I don’t smoke. (Might be too much personal info in a public blog comment box, lol, who cares)

        Glad to know books can heal you from anxiety and depression. I only know Dickens from your list, now I’m curious about your age?


      • writingbolt says:

        I replied to your email. Did you get my email reply?

        If I have balls in my nutshell, I must be a magician, playing the shell game.

        Tiger year? Is that why you seem a bit brazen?

        I thought I saw pictures of you smoking in your vast collection of selfies.

        [That’s why I exchange the personal stuff in emails.]

        Only recently have books been therapeutic. When I was a teen and in my 20s, I could not say that. Back then, TV, video games and drawing were my pacifiers, my stuffed animals, my diary.

        Aha, the mystery that is writingbolt continues… 🙂


      • Heather Cai says:

        No email yet, could you pls forward it to qearl831609@hotmail.com ?

        I smoked very occasionally when I had some certain drinks, but haven’t smoked for ages. Video games are something I cannot relate to, I suck badly on that. Honestly I suck on many technology stuff, or they suck me. But I’m overjoyed by such conflicts, sometimes even amazed how I survived in this modern world.


      • writingbolt says:

        I sent an email to that very address. Maybe you didn’t recognize my address…and I didn’t say HEY, IT’S WRITINGBOLT!

        Aha! So, you did smoke. For ages. As if you are that old. You cannot relate to video games at all? Another Heather commonality. Very odd. You just need someone to play with you. I am not great with modern tech, either. But, if we don’t adapt, we will get left behind. Unless you and I can move to some rural part of China and live like the old village farmers. I’ve seen enough Asian movies to fall in love with those field and pagoda-style house settings…just immersed in cherry blossoms and trickling streams.

        Overjoyed by conflict? There is no joy in conflict, except the glimmer of light when the conflict is averted or surmounted.


      • Heather Cai says:

        Email replied. Strangely I always imagine myself living in the era of typewriter. Maybe you can invite me to try play one single game when I am half drunk? 😛

        I think I am left behind by technology, but I also believe I am ahead of many people by thought.

        Glad to know that you’ve watched some Asian exotic Romance. Unfortunately China is probably the most technologically developed country in the world, even some rural places growing rapidly.

        If you and I move to a remote corner in China, we might be interviewed by media before long. We are physically not farmers, but spiritually we are farmers. I might be wrong…

        …shall we focus on the email from now on?


      • writingbolt says:

        I used to imagine myself always at a typewriter, after years of watching 1980s TV and seeing that Stephen J Cannell toss pages over his shoulder. I used to make pictures out of those symbols at the top of the keyboard. I made a biplane from “hash tags.” But, ever since I had to “upgrade” to a computer, I have lost my interest in the typewriter, other than the fun tapping sounds it can make for various musical pieces, sort of a Stomp quality to it.

        Invite you to play one video game when you’re drunk? That does not sound fun…unless I seek to take advantage of you, which would not be nice. [I don’t drink alcohol much; I’ve never been drunk and I don’t think I want to know what that’s like. I also fear my family’s addictive tendencies might make me an alchie.]

        You mean you have a brain that thinks more than most people you know? Me, too. And, I feel a tad like a sad Athena trying to find my place among other “less intellectual” beings…even though I am far from some of the “brainiacs” I’ve met.

        What exotic Asian romances have I watched? What are we talking about? 😛 I gave a visual of a fantasy scenario close to nature.

        Well, then we reject that media unless we are publishing a book or making a movie. We say, “Yeah. Thanks for coming. But, we don’t want any.”

        I could be a better farmer, physically, if I had someone to work with who would motivate me to build myself up to handle more work. If I am slaving away without my heart in the work, then I won’t improve. Prometheus sort of said that to Zeus once, when he wanted to give mankind fire.

        Heh. Well, you’re doing so well with comment replies. 🙂 But, let’s see what we can do with emails, too.


      • writingbolt says:

        Yes. I sent an email titled Writingbolt’s Chat Cafe and FBook. If you did not see it, maybe it went to a junk folder and was accidentally deleted. I will try resending.


  2. writingbolt says:

    Great reads: Robin McKinley wrote the Blue Sword Trilogy (I’ve only read the second book: The Hero and the Crown). Solzhenitsyn’s A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was the first book I read as a teen that I digested well enough to remember key points and somewhat enjoy a grim survival story. At a time when my school was promoting Shakespeare and other British greats, I found Aleksandr’s writing more inspiring and comprehendible. Hans Christian Andersen is probably most commonly known for The Little Mermaid and what has become the recent Frozen craze, the Snow Queen. Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has become two very bizarre yet imaginative and inspiring movies. [I also read The Glass Elevator and James and the Giant Peach as a kid. I just discovered he wrote some bizarre adult books, too??] E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. And, Beverly Cleary’s Ramona stories and Ralph S. Mouse stories…cripes, I think I’ve read most of her books without knowing it; and I don’t remember much, but the covers come back to me when I see them.


    • Heather Cai says:

      That’s a hell load of reads out there! Nice sharing! I only head of Shakespear, watched Froze, Chocolate Factory. I’m into drama, opera, musicals, classics, psychology, philosophy, and anything to do with human ( human kindness, human condition, human nature)

      I bet you know a lot better than me, since you’ve read more. I only started reading in college (2008-2009)


      • writingbolt says:

        Ugh. I can only stand so much drama before it drags me down to the pits with my over-worrisome mother. I have yet to see the appeal of opera other than costumes, sets and some powerful voices. But, overall, it’s like reading a book in a foreign language I don’t speak…I’m lucky if there are pictures to appreciate. Musicals…meh. Like drama, I can only stand so much; I am not one who cares to sit and watch people sing and dance when the world is so bleak and unlike that. I prefer stories that take you somewhere and make it an adventure, like Lord of the Rings…though even that’s a bit…er, fancy? I am not sure what word to use for the odd feeling it gives me. It’s like the Harry Potter stuff. I am okay with it, but there’s something off-putting about some of it.

        Well, at least we can pick apart each other’s brain. 🙂

        Yea, there is definitely a similarity in Heathers.

        I cannot believe I’ve read more books than anyone other than other people who don’t care/like to read, like me. I am embarrassed to know I’ve read more, considering I swear I am a terrible reader. I’m too creative to spend too much time reading. I just lack…purpose/direction.

        I read in school as a kid; it was forced and painful. I was a very slow reader who spent three times as long finishing assignments. I also was a terrible runner because I had no one to practice with and my mother didn’t think I could run safely. So, when running in gym was required, I was as slow as the fat kids. People thought I was a smoker (at a kid’s age). Only after leaving school behind did I learn to walk more and read more, just to counter my nervous attacks.

        Liked by 1 person

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