Q&A With Jimin Han

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Q&A With Jimin Han


This week’s Q&A is with Jimin Han who is the author of A Small Revolution & The Apology which came out on August 1stst. I read an early copy of the book last month, which her publisher was kind enough to mail to me.


Q: Jimin for those who haven’t read The Apology, would you please tell the readers of the blog a little bit about the book and how you came up with the concept for the novel? 


A: Sure. Jeonga is a 105-year-old Korean woman who has lived in Seoul all her life until she’s forced to travel to the United States to fix a mistake she made years earlier. Her determination is her flaw but becomes a strength when she finds herself persevering even when she’s passed on into the afterlife.  Jeonga’s voice came to me years ago but I didn’t know what to do with it. She was so sad, guilt-ridden and grief-stricken. Only when I was able to put her with her sisters did her wise-cracking, stubborn pride come out. She’s fiercely protective of her family and loves them even when she feels hurt by them. It wasn’t until my mother died and I was missing her did I find that Jeonga’s story helped me channel some of the stories my mother had told me. Writing made me miss my mother a little less. I felt that she would have laughed and loved this story so much.


Q: When did you know that being an author was your calling in life?


A: Such a great question. I was always chatty as a child so my nickname was songbird: “chamseh” which tells you how much I talked, and sang. Haha! I had a doll and a tea set in South Korea but I couldn’t bring them with me to the United States when we moved here when I was four years old. My dad was in training to become a physician so we didn’t have money for toys on his small salary. But my brothers and I were allowed to borrow books from the library— as many as we could carry by ourselves. So books were my “toys” and later I wrote stories on an old typewriter we got at a garage sale. Writing was the only thing I was ever remotely good at and loved to do even though I tried other career paths. 


Q: Who in your family and friends were the most supportive of your writing goal and talent? 


A: I have a fantastic group of writer friends. I met them in grad school and then others joined in at creative arts preschool. We were all parents who wanted our kids to be involved in the arts so it was so wonderful to meet like-minded people who lived near me. We wrote and talked about writing while our kids played and had their own kids writing group. My daughters were also incredibly supportive of my writing. They asked about my work every day. I’d ask about their day in school and they asked me what I’d written. I was teaching during that time too but they wanted to know about my writing. Their questions reminded me of what I wanted to accomplish. And no matter the result, I had to try because that’s what I was telling them to do in their daily lives– to focus on what they loved doing. 


Q: Have any of the people you know in real life, loosely or heavily inspired the characters in The Apology? I like how authors can create fictional people using bits from real people.


 A: I have a memory of my great aunt crying at her son’s grave when I was a young girl which made me so curious about her. But much of the sisters in the novel are drawn from visiting my mother’s friends in Seoul many years ago and the close relationship my mother had with her sisters. She’s the second oldest of four daughters in her family. 


Q: What lessons do you hope people learn after reading The Apology?


A: Whoa, that’s a big question. I suppose I found comfort in Jeonga’s determination when I was writing the novel. Her strength shored me up when I felt uncertain about the state of the world. She’s got her flaws but she’s also incredibly loyal and loves her family. If she can change, face her fears, admit her mistakes, then there’s hope for everyone maybe?


Q: Where is your favorite spot to plot, write and edit your work? 


A: I sit at an oval table that faces a glass door that looks out to the yard where there’s a crab apple tree and a large sloping rock. But when I’m stuck I go for walks in a park nearby with the dog and when I figure out an answer to a problem I record my thoughts on the voice memo app on my phone.


Q: We spoke about you currently working on your next book now. Are you able to spoil a little bit about what your next book is about and how you came up with the idea for this upcoming story? 


A: Usually my ideas for books come from things that have stayed with me for a while, things that bother me. I find that I keep circling certain details that I really want to put into a book but I don’t know where they’ll lead. Right now my agent and editor have been really encouraging about some pages so I hope to keep working on it until it feels complete.


Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to The Apology? The entertainment industry is severely lacking in new ideas.


A: Not right now, but fingers crossed there will be interest in the future. If you know of anyone, please tell them about the book! : ))))