Janice Lee was born in Hong Kong to Korean parents and lived there until she was fifteen, attending the international school. She then left for boarding school in New Hampshire, where she learned the true meaning of winter.
From there, she moved south to Cambridge, MA, where she spent four years at Harvard, developing a taste for excellent coffee, Au Bon Pain pastries, and staying up all night, sometimes indulging in all three at the same time. She also pleased her parents by meeting, on the very first day of school, the man who would become her husband.
After graduating with a degree in English and American Literature and Language, she relocated down to New York where she got her first post-college job
She then moved to Mirabella magazine where she did more of the same. As much as she enjoyed her job, she eventually came to realize that if she stayed on this career track, she would have no time to write her own book, something that had been a goal of hers since elementary school. Taking a deep breath, she quit to freelance, think about writing, and eventually ended up at the Hunter College MFA Program, which at the time was headed up by the wonderful Chang-Rae Lee. She spent most of her time in grad school writing short stories, some of which got published, but most of which are still languishing in various states of completion on her computer.
She was about to graduate with no definite plans when she received a letter from Yaddo, the artists’ colony, saying that her application for a summer residency had been approved. She also found out she was pregnant with her first child.
At Yaddo, she started to organize her thoughts into what would become THE PIANO TEACHER. After she had her first child, she put away the book for a year, adjusting to her new life as a mother. Then she had another child and picked it up again. Then she moved to Hong Kong. When she found out she was pregnant with her third and fourth (twins!) she had all the incentive she needed to finish the book, seeing as how she might not have any time to do anything ever again. Five years after she started it, she had a good first draft and sold THE PIANO TEACHER two months before she gave birth to the twins. When she told her mother she had sold her first novel, her mother asked whether Janice's husband had been the buyer. Really.