Nicki Chen is a freelance writer and blogger. Born and raised in Washington State, she married a man who fascinated her with his stories about an exotic childhood in China. Three daughters later, they moved to the Philippines, where they stayed for the next fifteen years. While there, she immersed herself in Asian cultures, studying Chinese brush painting and batik, volunteering at the International School, traveling, reading, and making friends with other Asian expatriates. She enrolled in an MFA program through the Vermont College of Fine Arts, earning her MFA after moving to the South Pacific. Her twice-yearly residencies took her on a 17,000-mile round-trip journey from Port Vila, Vanuatu, to Montpelier, Vermont, and back. Ms. Chen is a graduate of Seattle University and a member of the Ladies Writing Club of Perrinville.
Her love of stories began the day her dad returned from the Second World War. Every night he invented a new bedtime story to tell the three-year-old daughter who was born while he was fighting in Italy. His tales were full of giants and flying carpets and shipwrecks.
Years later, Ms. Chen’s passion for stories about China was sparked by her husband, who always brought a gallon of Christian Brothers sauterne and a bag full of stories to their dates, delighting both Ms. Chen and her roommates. He was a Scorpio, born in the Year of the Tiger, and though she was merely a Taurus born in the Year of the Sheep, she dared to marry him. She preferred a husband who was interesting, not safe.
For a long time Ms. Chen believed she was a teacher. She had a degree in education. She’d taught kindergarten and ninth-grade Spanish. When they moved to the Philippines, where foreign teachers were seldom allowed work permits, she still thought she’d go back to teaching. Eventually.
Then she began to write, and she found her home. Through writing, she found she could dig deeper. She could grab on to those small, beautiful moments that slip away so easily. She could bear witness to the courage and suffering of others. She could make something. It was in her blood to create. Her dad, a carpenter, built beautiful houses. Her mom and grandma made dresses and oil paintings and china painted plates—not to mention their nightly dinners replete with juicy pot roasts and spicy apple pies.
Currently Ms. Chen is working on a second novel that tells of a woman who, in her eagerness to follow her fertility doctor’s advice, convinces her husband to transfer to a remote island in the South Pacific.
Her blog, Behind the Story, can be found at nickichenwrites.com/wordpress.