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Author Interview: Sang Pak

This was originally posted at Into the Wardrobe on November 11, 2009.


Today, I welcome debut author Sang Pak to Into the Wardrobe! Sang has English and Psychology degrees from the University of Georgia and is a denizen of Georgia, Southern California, and Seoul. His coming-of-age novel, Wait Until Twilight, was published in August. :o)

Sang, what motivates and inspires you to be a writer?

Writing makes me feel connected and gives me a sense of purpose and meaning.

Can you tell us a bit about your debut novel?

Wait Until Twilight is a story about a high school boy, Samuel, who comes across a set of deformed triplets and their psychotic adult brother. Samuel finds himself obsessing about the triplets, though he is repulsed by them. All this coincides with re-emerging emotional memories of his dead mother. It’s a southern gothic / coming of age tale full of grotesques, adolescent life, and violence.

Why did you write Wait Until Twilight? What's the story behind the story?

The story is based on a set of dreams I had one summer a few years ago. Over a two week period I had many vivid dreams I wrote down all set in high school. So I put the pieces together and fleshed them out into a novel.

What were the challenges and rewards of writing Wait Until Twilight? What was the path to publication for the novel?

The challenge was getting a strong central story arc for the disparate vignettes that comprised the book. Once I got the story arc it was fine. Getting published took a few years of submitting to agents until one of them loved it and was able to get a deal with HarperCollins.

Where were you and what were you doing when you found out that your novel was going to be published? What were your first thoughts and feelings? How did you celebrate the good news?

I think I was about to go out on a Friday night when my agent called me to tell me about getting the deal. My thoughts and feelings were basically it’s about time I finally got published!

I had drinks with friends! Woohoo!

What are your favorite coming-of-age novels? How have they influenced your own coming-of-age novel?

I love the psychological exploration and transformation in Demian by Herman Hesse and I love the humor and youthful angst of Catcher in the Rye by Salinger.

Well, the aspects I love about them, I hoped to incorporate those aspects into my novel. The psychological exploration of Demian and the humor and angst of Catcher. Also these novels showed how a coming of age novel can be done in a literary style without being boring....

What do you think is the importance of coming-of-age novels?

A coming of age novel is more or less a story of transformation, which is always interesting and relatable. It just so happens to be in the framework of child to adult.

What books would you like your own work to match or surpass (in terms of writing, impact/influence, popularity/sales, or awards)?

I really can’t say. I can’t compare. I don’t think I’m competitive enough!

What is your strongest or favorite memory from when you were Samuel's (your main character's) age (16)?

Wow so many. But what comes to mind this moment is just the impression of driving country roads with friends without a care in the world.

Are you working on another novel right now?

Yes I am but I don’t talk about them until they are finished! I’m superstitious that way!

Sang, thanks so much for stopping by and chatting with me!

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