My novel’s scenes on color-coded post-its, circa March 2011
My good friend Nova Ren Suma, who also happens to be an amazing writer and author of Dani Noir (aka Fade Out), Imaginary Girls, and the forthcoming 17 & Gone, recently tagged me in the “Next Big Thing Blog Hop” interview series.
The point of the series is to give you some insight into an upcoming book or in my case, a work-in-progress.
While I usually don’t like to talk about my novel, I’m looking forward to re-engaging with my writing after a pregnancy-induced months-long hiatus–and excited about participating in this blog series. It is time to germinate all these dormant thoughts about my novel, even if it means stepping away from motherhood and thrusting my newborn daughter into someone else’s arms for a few hours to do so. Also, now that I consider my novel more finished than unfinished, it’s nice to share some of my thoughts with the public.
Here goes… because the Next Big Thing in my writing life is THIS:
What is your working title of your book (or story)?
Golem of Korea. Or Golem of Seoul. I haven’t decided. (And now you know why my blog features a picture of a golem).
Where did the idea come from for the book?
My book is inspired by my parents who were immigrants to this country. I began to think, “What if they had an additional culture outside of Korean culture from which to draw for wisdom and insight? What if they embraced a hybrid identity? How would this impact their world view?”
I wondered what could save a couple of immigrants–and drawing from my own Korean Jewish life, I created a golem for my characters.
Also, I want to note that over the course of writing this novel, the golem has been the saving grace of my characters and for me as the writer. The golem has kept me adventurous as a writer–every time I’ve felt stuck, I let the golem loose, and it has led me to different spaces and story lines. So the golem has saved me, too.
What genre does your book fall under?
Literary fiction. Asian American literature. New York literature. Historical fiction. Magical Realism. Someone dared called it “fantasy” (if golem literature is a subset of “fantasy”). Golem literature. If I add a university, can it also be a campus novel?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
This is when I wish there were more actors of Asian/Korean descent in Hollywood. Right now I can pick from John Cho, Bobby Lee, Daniel Dae Kim, and Ken Jeong…? So, John Cho and Bobby Lee. Seriously, we need more actors of Asian descent.
Also, I love B.D. Wong so much–I should write a character for B.D. Wong to inhabit. I also wonder if I can create a part for Jon Hamm, because–because I am a bit enamored with him.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Yong Kim is a war-traumatized North Korean man homesick for a time and place to which he can never return; upon immigrating to the United States in 1973, he builds a golem to help him cope–in doing so, he establishes a new relationship with his future.
(I find writing one-sentence synopses of my work so difficult).
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? (my note: in reality, these aren’t the two only outcomes for a book–you can self-publish, you can have the book represented by an agent, the book can find its way to a big publishing company, or its way to a small press, among so many other things).
Can you predict the future? I can’t. I don’t know what will happen, but I do hope that my book is represented by an agent who believes in me and my work, and finds its home at a publishing company with an editor who loves and supports my novel.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It’s hard to say–it took years and years. I had a stroke, and recovered from the stroke, and even had a baby during the course of writing this thing. It’s taken a long time to write, so I’m going to say it took my entire life. This novel is my life to date.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
A little bit of Midnight’s Children (my book is about nations), a little bit of The Wind Up Bird Chronicle (there are underground tunnels and talking animals). And because there’s a golem, a little bit of Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
See my answer above regarding from where the idea for this novel comes. My mom and dad. My late Jewish mother-in-law as well. And the idea of monsters. The idea of being able to create companionship and resolve loneliness–it’s awful lonely to be an immigrant in America. The idea of nations. The idea of war. The idea of rescue. The idea of hybrid identity. The idea of New York City.
Mostly, I was inspired by New York City. This book is a way for me to always find my way back to New York City.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There is a character named The Frog. He is not an actual frog.
Now I’m supposed to tag five writers to take on these “Next Big Thing” questions themselves…I asked a number of writer friends who blog, but did not get to five. *shrug* In which case, I’ll list the three who were game–and urge you to do this on your end, if you wish. Or–I’m happy to tag you!
Can’t wait to hear your answers to these questions!