Hello, Dearest Readers~
In my last update to you, I mentioned that the first installment of the Agria series would be released soon~ and yes, it’s still happening. ^^ I got word that it will happen in 2019. The new lunar new year for 2019, also known as The Year of the Golden Pig, is going to be the year to launch new projects and will be THE luck year. So that is comforting. ^^
But I suppose with the release of the new book, it’s time to give you the backstory of how this all kind of came about.
I started teaching at my current English language institute here in Seoul, South Korea back in December of 2010. While I had always been a writer and a poet, I often went through dry spells where there just wasn’t anything creative within me. About six months into the teaching gig, I was finally able to write a little something, and I felt bold enough to tell my boss and the curriculum director about it, Ben and Lee.
It was then when Ben and Lee found out that I enjoyed writing and they asked me if I could write them a story for an educational app they’d been working on. It centered around teaching young kids how to read English in a storybook type app. They gave me the particulars and off I went. They had been having trouble writing stories about an Asian adoptee kid named JW. So, I wrote a story about how JW solved a mystery in his neighborhood in NYC. They liked it and asked for more. The app would also feature a card game that the kids could play—sort of like those popular games where the player has monsters in their “arsenal,” and they have them battle. Anyway~
Soon we started meeting more and more about the story, and for the first time, I felt really invigorated about my writing. The character of JW was developing nicely, and we added in a sister for him—Jane. After writing a few stories about JW solving some kid-type mysteries, the question was posed, “Where is this exactly going?”
At a meeting at Ben’s place in Gangnam, the ProtoStar guys—(Ben, Lee, and Jeff) and I talked about it, and the notion of a novel was brought up. And while I had always wanted to write a novel, I wondered if I had it in me… so I was asked to come up with a backstory, and by our next meeting, I had the basic skeleton that would become the Agria series. JW and Jane then became much more than characters who solved mysteries. They became the heroes of a story that would link two worlds.
Linking worlds has always been the most fantastic feature of writing and reading. Sparking connection between something seemingly fictional and something true to a reader’s life has always been my goal—because life, as I see it, is universal. There are things that we all face—rejection, betrayal, feelings of not being good enough, love, happiness, hope.
When JW and Jane were solving mysteries, they were Asian adopted kids living in America. As I began writing about them, I didn’t want them to lose their identities, so I kept them as adoptees. While working at my English institute in Seoul, I have been blessed to meet so many of the Korean Adoptee community, and while JW and Jane are indeed adopted kids, that’s only a part of who they are. As a non-adoptee, I have always been very conscious of the idea that persons of color and adoptees should be the ones telling their story. And I still believe this to be true. However, I also know that the themes in the Agria series are much broader than any one particular genre or identity. Aside from that, two of the core members of ProtoStar are Korean Adoptees, and they were always helpful in guiding me through the process of writing about more of the details of life as an adoptee.
Welcome to the world, Jane and JW! Your destiny awaits!
Love and Light,