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Ode to The Santa Monica Star – My Journalistic Cradle

I started to pen my column here at The Santa Monica Star in May 2007. For the last 17 years, “Reflections From The East” has been not only a writing platform for me, but also a classroom where I learned to sharpen my craft. My teachers and critics are none other than my readers. For that, I’m forever grateful to all of you.


It was during this period that my writing career took off: My columns inspired me to branch out and write poems, essays, tall tales, and short stories. And, my historical memoir, Once Our Lives, finally took shape and was published last June by Guernica World Editions, a traditional Canadian publisher.


Now, Santa Monica is very much part of my identity even though I have never been a formal resident. Every time I talk about my writing, I cannot help but talk about this paper’s great impact on me, how my monthly column has been my most consistent writing project, and how it has honed my journalistic and literary skills.   


Looking back, my love for Santa Monica all started with Diane Margolin, the publisher and editor of The Santa Monica Star. My Chinese historical memoir project intrigued her and she invited me to contribute to the paper using an Eastern perspective, being from both the East Coast and the Far East. I loved the idea of being a window to other worlds for Santa Monica residents. Though I was shy, I was willing to try.


At the time, I didn’t know how long I could work for Diane, fearing that I’d run out of topics quickly. I could never have envisioned now turning out my 200th column, and I want to celebrate with you!


Since then, I have visited Santa Monica on multiple occasions, attending a Santa Monica Rotary Club meeting and an annual gala for the Santa Monica History Museum, and visiting and talking to many of my readers. I have tasted Neli’s delicious muffins and enjoyed lunch at Spumoni restaurant. I even have a picture of me smiling under the gigantic Moreton Bay Fig Tree in front of the Fairmount Miramar Hotel. Santa Monica now feels like home.


As I celebrate the first birthday of Once Our Lives this month, I am overwhelmed with gratitude to Diane Margolin, our paper, and our readers for being there with me every step of the way during my long writing journey. Thank you.

By Qin Sun Stubis

You can always reach me at, or please visit me at You can find a copy of my book, Once Our Lives, online at

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