5 questions with Deborah Liu

5 questions with Deborah Liu

In Author Conversations by Katie Winters

5 questions with Deborah Liu

We love any opportunity to get to know our favorite authors better. So a lightning round of questions sounds like a good place to start. Here, we ask five quick questions (with one wildcard) about books, genres, reading preferences, writing style, and their secret to success. 

As a woman who rose through the ranks of the male-dominated tech-industry, Deborah Liu, CEO of Ancestry and a former VP at Facebook, could teach a master class in how to stand up for yourself. Lucky for us, she shares those hard-earned lessons in her inspiring new book, Take Back Your Power, where she helps readers find their voice, achieve success, and thrive in a work culture stacked against women.

Here, Liu discusses what books she keeps coming back to, her dream companion for a cup of tea, and how she keeps writing from becoming a chore.

1. What are your all-time favorite books?

Deborah Liu: I love reading about behavioral economics and personal growth. Here are a few favorites from my bookshelf that I reread from time to time:

2. What’s your favorite genre to read?

Deborah Liu: Nonfiction. I love business books, political books, and behavioral economics books. The deep research and thinking involved in writing a nonfiction book mean that the author is invested in making it good. I always learn something new and interesting. I have five nonfiction books still waiting in my “to be read” pile on my nightstand. The problem is that more recommendations come in than my reading pace. I think it is a great problem to have. 

3. Which do you prefer: ebook or audiobook?

Deborah Liu: E-book, by far. I love rereading sections and highlighting and bookmarking interesting things to share. I was always the person who dog-eared my paperback books so I could revisit the passages I loved. The written word is a powerful thing, and seeing what others have noted can give you a glimpse into what they think. That’s why I love features like “most highlighted” — you can’t do that with an audiobook. 

4. What’s your writing routine or process? 

Deborah Liu: I write for pleasure and processing, and I never want it to feel like a chore. After the kids are in bed and I finish my work for the day, I make a mug of hot jasmine green tea and write until I no longer have anything to say. That could be as few as 100 words or as many as 1,000. During NaNoWriMo, that number was 1,667 a day (50,000 words spread across 30 days). 

I never reread or edit the same day that I draft. When I go back, I may realize what I wrote was unexpectedly brilliant, or surprisingly terrible — but it is always a delight to get a glimpse of where my head was during that time.

5. How much of your writing success is due to hard work, talent, or luck?

Deborah Liu: The most important part of writing is actually sitting down and putting words on paper (or a screen). Without that, all the talent and luck in the world don’t mean much. Hard work trumps all. 

Wildcard: If you could have coffee/tea with anyone alive or dead, who would it be and why?

Deborah Liu: I would love to meet my maternal great-great-grandmother. She likely never left our home village in Canton, and I wonder what she would think about her family, now living and thriving all over the world. Most women of that generation were never educated, and their lives were limited by their circumstances. I would love to share with her a world she never lived to see, and show her how her influence lives on in all of us.


About the Author: Katie Winters

Katie is an Everand editor who digs weird westerns and hidden histories and never says no to noir. She loves putting her librarian training to work connecting readers with good books. And dancing to Dolly Parton.