I’m so pleased to welcome A.H. Kim to the ball today! I met Ann in a Facebook group for debut authors, and I quickly became her Instagram fan. This month, she’s featuring a book recommendation per day in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Check out her feed here, and get your TBR ready. Ann’s debut novel, A GOOD FAMILY, releases in July, but we’re teaming up for an early giveaway here. Read on for your chance to win!
About A.H. Kim:
A.H. Kim was born in South Korea and immigrated to the U.S. as a young child. She is a lawyer, longtime cancer survivor, community volunteer, member of the Writers Grotto, and proud mother of two sons. She and her husband live in San Francisco. A Good Family is her first novel.
Talk about one book that made an impact on you.
Almost 16 years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My sons were three and seven at the time. I spent a lot of that year crying. Then one day, something strange happened: I lost the ability to cry. Even when terribly sad things would happen, such as losing friends to cancer, I couldn’t cry.
About 8 years ago, I read John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars. When I finished, I was bawling. A torrent of tears. It felt amazing. That book inspired me to write a YA book from an Asian-American teenager’s perspective. Even though I couldn’t get an agent for that YA book, I learned to love the act of writing. And I’m able to cry again.
Were you an avid reader as a child? What kinds of things did you read?
I was a good reader but not an avid one. I remember my friends, the Kim sisters (no relation), would check out the maximum number of books that the local public library allowed. I wasn’t that devoted.
The books I loved as a child are still some of my favorite books to this day: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsberg, My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Growing up in an immigrant home, I think I looked to books to teach me how to be American.
Share one quirk you have that most people don’t know about.
I never throw away a photo that someone gives me. I have boxes upon boxes of holiday cards and birth and wedding announcements that people have sent me over the decades. Whenever I walk down the street and see a stray photo, particularly of a child, having blown out of the trash bins and onto the ground, it breaks my heart. “That’s someone’s precious child,” I think. For this same reason, I never send photos of my children unless I know the person will receive it with care.
If you could tell your younger writer self anything, what would it be?
I remember a writing assignment from middle school: cut out a photo from a magazine and write a fictional story about it. This was in the late 1970s, and I’m pretty sure the photo I used was of King Juan Carlos I of Spain. My memory is that the man in the photo was dressed very regally but had a sad face.
As a child, whenever I was sick or on summer vacation, I watched All My Children with my mother. The soap opera offered so much drama: amnesia, secret evil twins, fake pregnancies, star-crossed lovers. I adored every juicy minute.
My middle school story was written in a similarly dramatic vein, full of intrigue and heartache and foolish decisions. The teacher read my story aloud to the class. When she finished, she announced: “And there, class, you have just heard the words of a future author.”
As much as I basked in my teacher’s praise, I didn’t believe her prediction. Authors are special people, I thought, people who have a unique gift that can’t be learned or acquired through hard effort but is magically bestowed upon birth.
To my younger writer self: a writer is not a unicorn; a writer is someone who writes. Keep at it, and someday, you will prove your teacher right.
Tell us about your next big project.
I’m working on a modern-day Sense and Sensibility that takes place at an idyllic cancer retreat center on the coast of Northern California. The Elinor character is a pragmatic nurse and widow; the Marianne character is a Food Network-style celebrity in search of meaning after a fall from grace. It’s great fun to write and, hopefully, to read.
When Beth Lindstrom, a glamorous Big Pharma executive, pleads guilty to a whistleblower lawsuit and goes to prison, she’s convinced someone in her family helped set her up – and she’ll do anything to bring them down.
For fans of Big Little Lies and Orange is the New Black, A Good Family chips away at one family’s veneer of privilege to reveal their secrets and struggles. A.H. Kim’s debut novel is loosely inspired by her personal experience supporting her brother and his children while her sister-in-law served time at Alderson women’s prison.