I often have trouble falling asleep at night, so when I'm lying in bed I think up stories. That's where I do a lot of my thinking. I also get a lot of ideas while I'm reading - sometimes reading someone else's stories will make me think of one of my own.
With a book called 'Keeping Score,' I really did want to write a book about the Korean War, because I felt that it is the least understood war in the American cultural imagination. So I set out with the idea that Americans didn't know much about the Korean War and that I was going to try to fix a tiny bit of that.
When I was reading books for 'Seesaw Girl,' I came across several references to the fact that in the 11th and 12th centuries, Korean pottery was considered the finest in the world. I liked that - the idea of a little tiny country being the best at something.
I do think that part of literature's job is to comment on and participate in the social issues of the time.
What I like most: Reading well-written sources that take me to another world for hours at a time - and being able to call that 'work!' Also, of course, finding a gem of information that is either exactly what I was looking for, or else fits perfectly into the story in some way.
I can give advice to anyone interested in writing in one word: Read! I think it's much more important to be a reader than to be a writer!
I used to sit home with my computer and write. After the Newbery, I probably spend more than half my time on the road.
After high school, I went to Stanford University and majored in English. Of course, that gave me a chance to do lots more reading and writing. I also received degrees in London and Dublin - where I moved to be near a charming Irishman who became my husband!
All my books take a long time to research. I spend several months researching before I start writing, and in the middle of writing I often have to stop and look up stuff. At my local library, I am one of the best customers! The research takes several months.
I want all my books to provoke some kind of response in the reader, to make them think something or feel something or both, and for that to become a part of them and work into their own lives.
I've been writing for as long as I can remember, and reading even before that. My mom still has stories that I wrote when I was in kindergarten. I was a reader and a re-reader. That's the main reason I became a writer.
In my family and among Korean-Americans, there just is no occasion that people would get together without bibimbap. It's something that people eat when they're wanting to celebrate or have a good time with friends.
My first publication was a haiku in a children's magazine when I was 9 years old. I received one dollar for it! I gave the check to my dad for Christmas, and he framed it and hung it over his desk.
I enjoy my family a lot. I have active teenagers, and they're in soccer and choral events.
If you're trying to write about very strong horror, very strong fear or very strong emotion, it's easy to overwrite it.
Most writers adore their editors, and I'm no exception.
Each of my books has taken me a different length of time to write - eight months for 'Seesaw Girl,' eight months for 'Shard,' three years for 'When My Name Was Keoko!' The publisher takes another year and a half to work on the book, so altogether each book can take up to three or four years to publish.
God bless Interlibrary Loan. I pay a lot of library fines. In the case of 'A Single Shard,' I was using books that hadn't been checked out in 30 years, so I didn't feel too bad.
When I'm writing, I try not to think things like, 'Gosh, I have to finish writing this book.' Books are very long and it's easy to get discouraged. Instead I think to myself, 'Wow, I have this great story idea, and today I'm going to write two pages of it. That's all - just two pages.'