Q&A With Marie Myung-Ok Lee

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Q&A With Marie Myung-Ok Lee

My latest Q&A is with bestselling author Marie Myung-Ok Lee. Marie has written “Somebody’s Daughter,” “Finding My Voice,” and “The Evening Hero”. 


Q: At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to become a writer?


A: Haha when I was 9. I was already writing stories but when I inherited a typewriter (which I still have) from my two older brothers I was charmed at how “professional” my story looked right off the bat so I bound it and sold it to my parents for a nickel – that was the purest form of “I want to do that” and it literally hasn’t changed.


Q: What advice do you give to anyone who wants to be a writer?


A: Keep at it. The secret is, it’s more about who lasts. My current novel The Evening Hero took 18 years to write and publish, which seems kind of ridiculous (especially from my economist’s perspective), but despite all the hardships and pivots and twists first getting a contract and then getting it actually published, I finally got it in the shape I wanted, and it was totally worth it. And the book is doing well. The most talented guy (by far) in the one creative writing class I took as an undergrad later went to Iowa, got an agent, never sold him book, and he gave up. What’s funny is I have two whole, finished novels that never sold. One was just so bad I didn’t even show it to my agent. When I do group author events almost always published authors have 1-2 or even more unpublished novels. You just have to get through the thicket of rejections and despair, basically.


Q: Are you writing a new novel now? If so can you spoil a little bit about it?

A: It is a young adult novel, Hurt You. My first novel was YA and I guess I’m returning to the form. It’s a Korean American and non-neurotypical centered contemporary retelling of Of Mice and Men. This was also a bit of a hard sell because it breaks a lot of rules in YA fiction. We’ll see how readers like it!

Q: What were your favorite novels you read this year so far?

A: Vanessa Hua’s Forbidden City; Dan Chaon’s Sleepwalk John Darnielle’s Devil House; Kate Gavino’s graphic novel, A Career in Books; Kirsten Chen’s Counterfeit. 

Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to any of your novels?

A: The Evening Hero has recently been picked up by two agents at CAA who specialize in bringing literary work to the screen, so I’m excited to see what they do with it!

Q: What is your advice to anyone who struggles with writers block? 


A: Keep your hand moving** –something will come! 


** I handwrite