Lisa See was born in Paris but grew up in Los Angeles, spending much of her time in Chinatown. She is of Chinese decent. Her first book, On Gold Mountain: The One Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family (1995), was a national bestseller and a New York Times Notable Book. The book traces the journey of Lisa's great-grandfather, Fong See. Her first fiction novel, Flower Net (1997) was a national bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book, and on the Los Angeles Times Best Books List for 1997. Flower Net was also nominated for an Edgar award for best first novel.
In addition to writing books, Ms. See was the Publishers Weekly West Coast Correspondent for 13 years. Her bestselling novels, all inspired by her Chinese heritage, include Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, A Peony in Love, Shanghi Girls, Dreams of Joy and China Dolls. Among her awards and recognitions are the Organization of Chinese Americans Women's 2001 award as National Woman of the Year and the 2003 History Makers Award presented by the Chinese American Museum. See serves as a Los Angeles City Commissioner.