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Atlantic Cape Speaker Series Hosts Best-Selling Author Weina Dai Randel at Mays Landing Campus

10/04/2023 | Media Contact: David Zuba, Public Relations Manager and Copywriter | (609) 343-4933
Weina Dai Randel speaks at Atlantic Cape's Speaker Series event on October 3

MAYS LANDING — Growing up on the east coast of China in the 1980’s, best-selling author Weina Dai Randel was a quiet and introverted child, whose only passion was to read books. Money was scarce for her family, as were books, so Dai Randel satiated her literary appetite by borrowing books from her two older siblings. By the glow of the flashlight, and long after bedtime, the seeds for a burgeoning writing career were sown.

Weina Dai Randel speaks to the audienceDai Randel spoke of her upbringing, her writing style and purpose while also discussing her two latest novels at Atlantic Cape Community College’s Speaker Series event on October 3 at the Mays Landing campus in the Student Center/G Building lobby before dozens of attendees and admirers. The Speaker Series is proudly sponsored by the Atlantic Cape Community College Foundation.

A Wall Street Journal bestselling, award-winning author of four novels, Night Angels, The Last Rose of Shanghai, The Moon in the Palace and The Empress of Bright Moon, Dai Randel aspired to be a writer early on in the third grade. She published her first short story at the age of 12. She moved to the United States at 24 and learned to speak, write and dream in the English language.

Dai Randel is the first Asian American novelist to intertwine Chinese history with the Jewish diaspora in Shanghai during World War II. In the late 1930’s, Shanghai became a place of refuge for thousands of Jewish citizens fleeing Europe during Hitler’s siege. In her novel The Last Rose of Shanghai, Dai Randel sought to educate her readers to the dramatic change that European Jews faced while living in Shanghai during that time.

“I wanted to tell readers about Jewish history in China and to connect readers who are Chinese, and everybody else, through storytelling. Being a writer and writing historical novels has many challenges, but it's also exciting to hear that the stories resonate with others,” Dai Randel said.

Weina with members of Atlantic Cape staffDai Randel persevered on her road to literary stardom. She received 82 rejection letters over the course of 10 years before finally getting an offer from a publisher willing to print her first book, The Moon in the Palace, in 2016. After receiving her 81st rejection letter she began to second guess herself.

“After the 81st I actually said that I couldn’t do it. I was switching to another career and I accepted the offer of working in a community college to be a creative writing teacher,” Dai Randel admitted. “But then an agent contacted me and they made me an offer. And then after signing, I still got another rejection letter from an agent.”

Dai Randel’s family played a pivotal role along her arduous road to eventually finding literary success.

“Nobody can really walk alone, especially if you are a writer, it's isolated. It's a very lonely business to be a writer,” Dai Randel said. “You spend your life in this closed space most of the time. In my case, it was six hours a day, but I couldn't have made it without my husband's support. He was amazing. He just told me to keep writing and don't give up. And my kids, they were very supportive too. So, it was, it was exciting. It was a family business.”

The winner of the RWA RITA® Award, a National Jewish Book Awards finalist and a two-time Goodreads Choice Awards Best Historical Fiction nominee, Dai Randel has wise advice for writers looking to follow in her footsteps.

Weina Dai Randel signs a copy of her book“I was not sure if I could ever reach my dream. Being a novelist was my only dream. So for all those people who aspire to be a writer, keep writing, don't give up and believe in yourself. One day, you will reach the dream of your life,” Dai Randel said. “Being patient is important, but also enjoy the craft of writing. If you are a true writer, you will have all the pain and joy of crafting sentences and creating plots and twists, and characterizing all those people. Eventually, they will come to you and they will become alive in your life.”

Dai Randel’s novels have received starred reviews from Booklist, Library Journal, and Shelf Awareness and rave reviews from other publications such as Historical Novel Review and Book Reporter. She is also the recipient of the Mass Cultural Council’s art grant in 2023. Her novels have been translated into thirteen languages, including Russian, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Hebrew.


About Atlantic Cape Community College

Atlantic Cape is a comprehensive two-year community college serving the residents of Atlantic and Cape May counties. The college offers over 40 career, transfer and workforce development programs to more than 8,000 students annually at three campuses in New Jersey: Atlantic City, Cape May Court House and Mays Landing.

About Atlantic Cape Community College Foundation

Atlantic Cape established the Foundation in 1978 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity to build a broad base of financial support for its programs and services. Foundation members are drawn from local industry and small businesses and represent a broad cross-section of active leaders in the community. The Foundation has raised more than $5 million for scholarships, Foundation operations and to enhance academic programs and the campus environment. Annually, the Foundation provides nearly $600,000 for institutional scholarships, grants and emergency help.