Editor’s Note: This exchange is part of a series of brief interviews with emerging writers of recent or forthcoming books. If you enjoyed it, please visit other interviews in the I’ve Got Questions feature.
- What’s the title of your book? Fiction? Nonfiction? Poetry? Who is the publisher and what’s the publication date?
TITLE: That Lonely Spell. Nonfiction. PUBLISHER: Heliotrope Books/March 25, 2022
Described by Kirkus Reviews as “A fresh take on the Korean memoir by a writer from a generation whose voice has seldom been heard”, That Lonely Spell is Love, Korean American Style – and the album of my life.
- What’s the book’s genre (for fiction and nonfiction) or primary style (for poetry)?
- What’s the nicest thing anyone has said about the book so far?
I get notes from readers all the time, but I’m particularly touched when I’m told that my words drew them in so deeply that they felt they were with me, experiencing what I was experiencing – right by my side.
- What book or books is yours comparable to or a cross between? [Is your book like Moby Dick or maybe it’s more like Frankenstein meets Peter Pan?]
On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks. I think we both tell our stories in honest, everyday yet poetic language. (On a side note: We also share prosopagnosia – face blindness – though his condition was more severe.)
- Why this book? Why now?
During a seven-year period beginning in late 2013, in between other writing projects, I penned personal essays without rules. Indulged myself with very candid, emotional pieces without second guessing a single thought. Along the way, all twenty-six works were accepted for publication, most by notable literary magazines. In the back-of-my-head, I was always wondering if I might find a book publisher for my collection. Fortunately, I did.
I believe prophesy was involved. Not having written a personal essay since college, I dug so deeply during the writing of That Lonely Spell there were times every cell in me felt altered. And during this period, nearly all the people I wrote about – including my three of my best friends, my confidants – died. On top of that, in 2019, my mom, alive to hear me read three of the five works dedicated to our life together following the early death of my father, also passed away. Three months before the Pandemic hit, I got divorced. Frankly, it’s like I sensed a true lonely spell coming all along.
- Other than writing this book, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?
I co-own a chocolate shop which has its insanely heavenly moments.
- What do you want readers to take away from the book?
I’d love to believe that a reader or two might be inspired to try their own hand at a personal essay. If you allow yourself to be honest, you learn a lot about yourself in the process.
- What food and/or music do you associate with the book?
I nibbled on countless dark chocolate bonbons during the writing of That Lonely Spell; I also listened to songs from the seventies mentioned in my memoir such as “Tell Me Something Good” and “Golden Lady”, songs that defined me then and even now.
- What book(s) are you reading currently?
No Death, No Fear by Thich Nhat Hanh
Show Up, Look Good by Mark Wisniewski
Sonju by Wondra Chang
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