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Korean Authors


Writer Son Bo-Mi

I write like I make small steps forward every day




Writer Son Bo-Mi has swept various literary awards in Korea and is highly recognized in the literary world – she has won the most Young Writer’s Awards as well as the grand prize of the 45th Yi Sang Literary Award in 2022. She is also loved by her readers for her encouraging, consoling, and sympathizing works. Writer Son being recognized for both her literary work and popularity seems to be driven by her constant attempts to take on challenges, a warm perspective towards the world, and the humble and diligent attitude that the author has towards her works. It’s already her 14th year as a writer – writer Son has never been idle in writing, diligently keeping up with the planned amount that she sets every day. Following is an interview with writer Son Bo-Mi, who has been steadily making progress with her work, and not distracted by the outpouring of compliments from the literary circle and readers.


손보미 작가



It’s an honor to have you on K-Book Trends. Please introduce yourself to our subscribers.


Hello, everyone. It’s a pleasure for me to be doing this interview. Looking back, it’s quite surprising that this much time has passed. I’m novelist Son Bo-Mi, and I’ve been writing novels for 14 years. I recently published my third short story collection The Dream of Love (Munhakdongne) after 5 years, and since then, my heart’s been fluttering with excitement.


You’ve won the Young Writer’s Award four times, recording the most wins. Besides this, you have won various literary awards, receiving love from both the literary circle and readers. So how does it feel to be such a beloved writer?


I don’t actually know if I’m receiving much love, but I do think that there are fans that read, and enjoy my stories whenever they are published. Even though it’s been 14 years now, I often can’t believe that there are people reading my stories. It’s still very surprising to think that my stories are being read by someone, somewhere! When I have a chance to meet the readers in person or when they talk about their impressions of my novels, I feel very strange in particular, and very happy at the same time as a writer.


As you’ve said in the introduction, the short-story collection The Dream of Love was published recently. It’s impressive that the book talks about the stories of teenage girls. Was there a particular reason for choosing teenage girls as the main topic?


I grew up in a very conservative city. I had to cut my hair short in middle school and had to wear a sleeveless t-shirt inside the school uniform so that my inner wear couldn’t be seen from outside. The school even chose for me what color of socks to wear as well as the type of shoes. The city was very enthusiastic about education at the same time. I remember being forced to stay late at school for additional classes, even though I was only a middle school student. Maybe such oppressing atmosphere made many girls run away from home. Teachers ran after them, and they were never hesitant to talk ill about them during class. They wanted to give us a lesson.
I went to a girls’ middle school, but there must have been runaway boys, too. But I think the attitudes of adults toward girls and boys running away from home were different. Girls like me were encouraged to achieve certain outcomes by studying hard, but the achievements didn’t get the deserved attention. I used to wonder about the world that the runaway girls were living in during middle school. Teachers would regard their lives to have gone bad for good. I might have thought about them as being pathetic, but on the other hand, they might have been envied by some others. So, I think I wanted to write about girls, who are envied but insecure, through my stories – girls that feel as if they are in comfort, but are in fact, constantly yearning for something else, and are doomed to frustration in the end.


『사랑의 꿈』

The Dream of Love



There are many women living in diverse corners of life in your stories. What message did you want to deliver through the diversity?


There are so many types of lives in the world, and I have been thinking that every type should be respected. Well, it’s obvious that one should be responsible for their life, from an individual’s perspective. But, sometimes, the social, and external structure affects their life, which restrains them from escaping the influence. I think that women in my age have gone through such a time in their lives or are going through one, be they different in intensity. And some women might do their best to make changes to that structure, but some women have chosen to live bravely in the given environment. Coincidentally enough, women in The Dream of Love, Yang Woo-Jung, Gong Joo-Yeon, and Yeoung Ye-Eun, are the latter type of women. They don’t care what others say and just focus on their lives within the set boundary.



Some people are bravely living their lives in a society that sets limitations.



Your early works were mainly male-narrator novels. What gender you choose for the speaker must differently affect how the story rolls out or how readers feel, even if the same topic is dealt with. What do you think about this?


Actually, I had hardly ever written a first-person novel before. The ones I did were the novel Dear Ralph Lauren (Munhakdongne) and a short-story, The Box Man (from the short-story collection titled An Elegant Night and Cats (Munji Publishing)), and their speakers were all male adults. As fiction is like designing a world inside my head and imagining what the characters experience in that world, it was hard to write in first-person or write about characters that are alike to me. Well, let’s say that I lose imaginative power. So, that’s why the main speakers were mostly males – I found it more comfortable to write in the third-person for adult female characters.
But, several years ago, I had to write an essay about my school days. I wrote about an incident with my friend in middle school. After writing about the scene where I said my last goodbye to her, I looked for the diary I kept then. Oh my, what I had in my memories was totally different from what actually had happened! I wrote about wrong memories without shame, as if they were real. There, I thought that I might be able to write novels in this way and that it was going to be really fun. Pretending to misremember the things I experienced when I was a teenager, I thought I could make up a story by making variations here and there. From then on, I thought a lot about writing stories about teenage girls. And those works are included in The Dream of Love. So, it’s like, if it had been a complete world of imagination, I now got the ability to cook the fragments of my memory in different ways. Of course, the stories in The Dream of Love are complete fiction, but I can say that my experiences are reflected in them to some extent.


『디어 랄프 로렌』

『우아한 밤과 고양이들』

『작은 동네』

Dear Ralph Lauren, An Elegant Night and Cats, and The Little Neighborhood



It must have never been easy to steadily release works for more than 10 years. Did you ever go through a slump?


From late 2018 to early 2019, I serialized a full-length novel titled The Little Neighborhood (Munji Publishing). I completed the story in only a month. It was about 650 pages, based on a 200-character manuscript. I think I spent six hours every single day writing the story. And I found my gum bleeding when I was brushing my teeth a few days after I finished the story. I just wanted to finish work quickly and play, but later I found out that it was one of the symptoms of burnout - “Wanting to finish work quickly and take a break.” But after completing the novel, I didn’t take a break. I wrote more than 1,000 pages of 200-character manuscripts every year for three years since 2019. My close friends said I should take care of myself, but I ignored them. I thought I was okay, and I WAS okay. But, it was spring last year – I started a new essay series, but I just couldn’t hold a pen to write a 3,000-letter script. My head went blank, and I was frustrated. I think it was when I realized how serious the situation was. I had a deadline coming up for a short story, and I put it off only a month before. And I didn’t write short stories for a year. Now, I’m working on a short story after a year, and I still think it’s difficult.


We heard that you rarely go through revisions when writing. Can you tell us about your writing process?


I set a goal to write a certain amount every day. And during projects, I become more diligent than usual. I get up early in the morning, go to a cafe, open my laptop, and watch a drama or video that I like with a cup of coffee. Then, I start writing after that. Oh, I have to add stretching in between. It’s not that I don’t revise my work at all, but it’s more like revising it bit by bit every day after I finish the amount I set for the day. So, I write fiction with the idea of making little steps a day.


Meanwhile, Show Them Lindy Hop (Munhakdongne) is based on your experience of falling in love with swing dance. When choosing a subject for your story, is it often related to your interests?


Well, that’s a very obvious question. My interests are inevitably projected onto the characters. It’s because it’s the world I created. When I was into swing dance, I wrote a story about it, and when I was learning ballet, I wrote a story where a ballerina appears as the main character. There are cases where the story starts from a line in an American drama or book I watched, or a scene from a documentary I happened to watch. Or, there are many cases where I simply jot down thoughts that come to my mind, and they become the beginning of the story.


『그들에게 린디합을』

『사라진 숲의 아이들』

Show Them Lindy Hop and Children of Disappeared Forest



Among your works, is there a story that international readers can also enjoy?


Well, it’s hard to choose only one! Maybe the book Children of Disappeared Forst (Anonbooks), which was published last year. It’s about two women with hurt hearts tracking down a killer. It’s kind of a detective novel. It describes a complex view of Koreans about the Vietnamese War. It was a very difficult topic for me, too. But even though this story suggests no answers, I believe it can at least provide a chance to share awareness of the issue with everyone who knows about the war. Besides, one of the characters in the story loves bread. So, I think that any bread-lovers in the world will find the story more interesting to read!


* K-Book Trends Vol. 58 – Go to the interview with Anonbooks


We look forward to your next story, as you’ve been a steady writer. Please tell us about your future plans or stories you would like to discuss.


I have some plans. I’m a person with vague plans – I like to start out doing things at the same time. But often, I fail to push them until the end. Anyway, I want to write a new full-length novel around next year. I want to write a legal story about a divorced couple having custody disputes. I might need to spend a lot of time researching as I know nothing about that field. I also want to publish a book about American dramas this year, and I want to write about the history of bread in Korea one day. Oh, I also want to write a book dedicated to my cat!




#Son Bo-Mi#Writer#Novel#The Dream of Love
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