In the Green Room

Amy Chua

Amy Chua has lived all across the country – growing up in the Midwest and on the West Coast, teaching in the South, and attending school and currently living in the Northeast, with her husband, two daughters, and two Samoyeds. She seems to have found her home, in an eccentric house in New Haven with “faces carved into columns.”

“This is going to sound terrible,” she said jokingly, “but I like the East Coast. I like the pace. It’s more suited to my personality.” Below, Chua, author of Day of Empire, reveals more about her travels.

Q. What do you wake up to?
My two dogs jumping on me.

Q. What is your favorite word?
A. Grace or graciousness.

Q. What comforts you?
A. My dogs and my kids, when they’re not stressing me out.

Q. What inspires you?
A. My father.

Q. How would you describe yourself in five words or fewer?
A. Optimistic, over-energetic, over-excitable, maybe a little dominant, fun-loving.

Q. When are you  most creative?
A. In the morning, [after my] first cup of coffee, 15 minutes after I wake up.

Q. What is your greatest extravagance?
A. Music lessons and instruments for my violinist and pianist daughters.

Q. If you could only take one more journey, where would you go?
A. The Middle East.

Q. What profession would you like to practice in your next life?
A. I always thought I could be a good psychiatrist.

Q. Whose talent would you like to have?
A. I would love to have artistic talent since I totally lack that – anyone with a great voice or a great ability to paint.

Q. What is your fondest childhood memory?
A. Traveling to Europe with my family, my parents and three younger sisters with almost no money, and the adventures we had. Once, my dad wanted us to stay at the Ritz even though we had no money, so we just got one room and the six of us camped out on the floor.

Q. What is your most prized material possession?
A. I love my house, it’s very unusual and kind of crazy. My daughter’s violin.

Q. What teacher or professor changed your life?
A. In law school, a professor now at Stanford…. She just decided to believe in me even though I was completely terrified and couldn’t speak in class. For some reason she saw something in me and really sought me out.

Q. What is the most unusual time or place in which you had a brilliant idea, and what was the idea?
A. I tend to get my best ideas when I’m really relaxed, and that’s often when I’m traveling or not thinking about work. I had in the Salt Desert of Bolivia some ideas that ended up being the back ground of my first book.

Q. What promise do you make to yourself that you break the most often?
A. That I’m going to be more patient and less immediately demanding of my daughters.

Q. Who is one person living or dead you would love to have a beer with?
A. I think the most obvious answer at this point holds for me. I’d love to have a beer with Barack Obama.

*Photo by Aaron Salcido.