For her first novel, author Crystal Hana Kim tackled an epic, multi-narrator love triangle set against the backdrop of the Korean War. She joins Larry and guest host Lee Kravetz in the GrottoPod this week to discuss the challenges of writing If You Leave Me, her love for her characters and how she balances teaching and writing.
“I wanted to write about a woman, because war narratives are so often about men in battle. I wanted to write about what happens when a woman is traumatized by war.”
12:20: Why she chose to pursue both an MFA and an advanced teaching degree, and how training for both is cross-beneficial.
23:40: The origins of If You Leave Me, and how her family — her grandmother, in particular — helped shape the book’s plot and themes.
32:30: How she wove “big issues” into a personal story; finding the balance between setting/backdrop and plot; the challenges of writing an epic story as your first novel.
44:45: Deciding to make her protagonist(s) “frustrating,” and how much stumbling and questionable decision-making is necessary for realism vs. risking alienating readers.