Suzanne Park is a Korean-American writer who was born and raised in Tennessee. She is the author of THE PERFECT ESCAPE, LOATHE AT FIRST SIGHT, SUNNY SONG WILL NEVER BE FAMOUS (out June 2021) and SO WE MEET AGAIN (August 2021).
In her former life as a comedienne, she appeared on BET, was the winner of the Seattle Sierra Mist Comedy Competition, and placed as a semi-finalist in NBC’s “Stand Up For Diversity” showcase in San Francisco.
She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, female offspring, and a sneaky rat that creeps around on her back patio. In her spare time, she procrastinates.
Eyes: brown, Hair: black.
What inspires you to write?
Storytelling has always been part of my DNA, but becoming a fiction author wasn’t something I tried until later on in my adulthood. I spent over ten years doing stand up comedy until I realized that wasn’t what I was put on earth to do. Bringing humor to the YA and adult literary space through an Asian-American lens (during a pandemic!) has been challenging, but rewarding, too. I’ve had readers tell me that my books were the first ones they were able to finish during the pandemic because they were entertaining and fun, and hearing that really meant the world to me. Being an author has been the best— and quite frankly, hardest— job I’ve ever had, but I’m so glad I’m where I am now.
Where do you get your ideas?
My book ideas usually pop into my head when I’m talking walks or daydreaming. I still daydream a lot, and the most absurd scenes and plot points come from letting my mind wander. Ideas come in the middle of the night, too, so I keep a pad of paper by my bed so I can jot things down. Also, so many weird things happen to me on a daily basis, so sometimes the ideas are inspired by my actual life, too!
Tell us about your book.
I’m thrilled to have two books coming out this summer. My YA novel SUNNY SONG WILL NEVER BE FAMOUS is about a Korean-American teen influencer who is shipped off to a digital detox farm camp in Iowa. SO WE MEET AGAIN is a part-coming-of-age, part-love story about an overworked Korean-American investment banker Jessie Kim who moves back home and starts an online Korean cooking show. Jessie runs into her childhood rival, Daniel Choi, who she thinks has a perfect life, but she couldn’t be more wrong.
Can you pitch your current project? (for unpublished books)
I can’t divulge too much, mainly because my newest book ideas aren’t fully formed! But one concept I shared with my agent recently was something he was equally excited about: I’ll soon be working on another comedic novel about a high-achiever with a recurring nightmare that comes true.
Tell us about your writing journey and how you got where you are today. What advice do you have for aspiring BIPOC creators?
I was selected for the PitchWars mentoring program in 2016 and found an agent soon after. The manuscript I’d worked so hard on in the PitchWars program had a lot of editor interest but sadly, it never sold. Then I wrote another book, and that didn’t sell either. I wrote another one…and that didn’t sell. After I wrote my fourth book, I sent it to my agent and then simultaneously cleaned up my resume, because in my mind, I was done with writing. Just as I started to apply for new jobs, that last book got an offer from a wonderful editor! And then my book 2, which I’d revised over the course of the year, sold right after that. It was a rollercoaster ride for sure, and one that doesn’t just end when you sign a book contract. For any aspiring BIPOC creators, please don’t give up. Keep creating!
How do you weave your culture(s) into your book(s)? How do(es) your culture(s) influence your writing?
While some of my own upbringing influences the stories I tell, I’m mainly interested in writing a breadth of stories about Korean-Americans who face different challenges in society. In my YA book releasing this summer, Sunny Song is self-conscious about speaking Hangul and at the end of the story decides she wants to take language classes. In my forthcoming adult novel, Jessie, an accomplished banker who starts a Korean fusion cooking show, deals with the pressures of familial expectations and her own pressure on herself throughout the book. I’m sure many people can relate to this.
What is your writing process like?
My writing process used to be more orderly and systematic, but now with everyone being home (*cough* invading my space *cough*), I’ve had to adapt and change my work day around distance learning, snack and lunch times, and homework breaks. With drafting, I don’t outline (I know, I know, I tried and it didn’t work for me!) but I do have a few plot-like things figured out before writing the story, such as what’s the grabby initial scene and inciting incident? I also like to make sure I know key parts of the story such as the climax, the “oh no, everything is ruined!” moment, and then the conclusion. I need to know what the character’s misbelief is and how will they evolve or change from point A to point B. And finally, before drafting, I should know the answers to this question: What are the character’s goals, stakes and conflict, and are they big enough?