Hi beautiful people, I am happy to be interviewing Lynn Jung today. She is a speculative author, represented by Kerstin Wolf of D4EO Literary. Today, I wanted to talk to Lynn about her book, her advice to querying authors, and diverse representation in literature. Here’s what she had to say.
Tell Me About Your Book.
My current project is a YA contemporary fantasy about a pyrokinetic teenager who goes on a road trip to bring her best friend back from the dead. It's funny, magical, and a bit morbid.
What Inspired it?
I was inspired by the desert road trips I took with my family when I was younger. Since the book also deals very heavily with grief, I also drew quite a bit from my personal life. My first experiences with death came when I was a teenager, so it was important to me to explore how a young person deals with and confronts those feelings, as well as the universality of them.
What Was Your Querying Journey Like?
I queried three different iterations of this book over ten years, so there was a lot of trial and error. The round that got me my agent (the amazing Kerstin Wolf) was my first dive into Twitter pitch contests. She liked one of my pitches, I sent along my material, and we turned out to be a match!
Was There Ever a Moment in Writing or Querying Where You Felt Like Giving Up? How Did You Get Through it?
Yes, definitely. I’m sure every writer struggles with self doubt, especially when faced with a seemingly endless tide of rejections. Querying takes a lot out of you! I don't believe in giving up, but I do believe in taking the opportunity to self-improve. Every time I was faced with a 'no,' I'd identify another problem in my work and fix it. The constant forward momentum helps, I think.
Is There an Aspect of Writing Your Struggle With the Most? The Least?
Honestly, I often worry that my writing isn't elegant enough or 'pretty' enough. I come from a weird background, since I'm a non-native English speaker who struggled with reading as a child. I'm also from the generation that communicates largely in Vine quotes and memes. As a result, I worry that my writing style is too casual. On the flip side, my dialogue is very naturalistic, and I think I write some pretty darn lovable characters!
What Advice Do You Have for Querying Authors?
Don't give up, but know when things aren't working. It's okay to shelve projects for a bit and move on if you've been angling for that 'yes' for a long time and just not getting it. Take some time, clear your mind, and keep going.
What Was it Like Writing and Querying While in School?
It's definitely a tricky balance to strike, and I had to learn time management skills early on. Staying on top of endless assignments, readings, and writing stuff is always tough, but it pays off in the long run. My advice is to schedule, plan ahead, and don’t forget to take care of yourself. Every since I stopped purposefully skimping on meals and sleep, I’ve been a lot more energetic and productive.
Do You Think There’s Enough Diversity in Literature Now? If No, Why Do You Think That is?
Not yet, but we're getting there, particularly in young adult lit. Meaningful progress is always slow. My only fear is people viewing diversity as a 'trend' when it should be seen as a permanent fixture.
Why is Diverse Representation Important?
Other than the fact that everyone deserves to read and create stories featuring their identities, there's been a long history of negative representation of marginalized groups in media. The damage of those stereotypical portrayals is very much a real concern, and the only way to drown it out is to foster the creation and promotion of genuine, complex portrayals of marginalized people and their stories. That's just my take—there's a lot of damage to be undone, essentially. (Besides, marginalized creators have been shunted aside long enough, and deserve to make a living and gain renown just as much as their more privileged peers.)
How Does Your Identity Play Into Your Writing?
Other than constantly making sure I’m being as inclusive as possible, I have a tendency to write characters who are outsiders, or detached from their respective communities. This definitely stems from my experiences growing up and living in mostly white areas.
Do You Feel POC Voices Have Been Lost or Co-opted By Other Groups (For Example, LGBTQ+ White People Participating in DVpit)? If So, is There Anything You Know of That Allies Can Do to Help This?
In the case of DVPit, no—from my understanding, that event was always meant for all types of marginalized creators. I do think people need to be a little smarter about staying in their lane, however. Again with the diversity-as-trend thing: a lot of prominent white authors with questionable track records have been writing diverse books lately, which is great! But when the YA diversity darling is a white lady's book from 2015, I start to have questions. Why aren’t marginalized authors’ books receiving the same level of hype? (I mean, we know why, but still.)
What Are You Working on Now?
My molecular bio homework, haha. I've also got a few other active projects, including a sprawling high fantasy set in a world based on Korean myths and a just-for-fun NA about a college kid who joins an ancient knighthood of demon slayers for the scholarship payout. Yes, they’re very different.
Thank You So Much for Your Time. Before I Go, Where Can We Find You?
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