What influenced you the most in the creation of this work?  Were there any particular people in your life, or any particular events that led you to create this particular story?

Why did you write this book?

How can people benefit from this work? What special services are performed by the existence of this work?

How can people benefit from this work? What special services are performed by the existence of this work? 

I am going to answer that question in terms of what fictional stories in general can accomplish, how they can make a difference. 

I think one of the most serious problems we have in our world is our inability to live with each other in harmony.  There are serious frictions and conflicts between various groups at all levels – between nations, between ethnic groups, between social classes, even between sexes.  And I think the source of all prejudices and misperceptions is ignorance, not really knowing anyone of “the other” group, up close and in person.  I believe that the most effective way for someone to overcome his prejudices against a particular group of people is to get to know as many real people from that group as possible.  Given the opportunity, a reasonable person would eventually notice that real people never fit the stereotypes, that people are as diverse in any group as in your own.  Likewise, one couldn’t help but notice certain common threads that cut across all boundaries.  When you discover those common qualities, you begin to understand the true nature of humanity. 

The problem is that it is not easy for us to get to know people from other groups in our real lives.  It’s hard enough to even meet them.  Geographical segregation is a fact of life and that isn’t the only barrier.  There are many other subtle social barriers that keep groups apart.  But the most difficult ones to break are of course the internal barriers we have in our minds.  And that is where I believe fictional stories or memoirs can be helpful.  I believe that books can help people to overcome these psychological barriers a little more effectively because authors have already done the hard groundwork of “knowing” the characters.  That’s the first reason.  It’s also because we the readers have an almost immediate access to the inner world of these characters.  We learn what they are thinking, what they are feeling and what they are yearning for, which is not an easy thing to achieve in real-life relationships.  To the extent that we allow ourselves to get under the skins of the fictional characters, we can actually become one with them, living their lives, feeling their feelings and learning important lessons of life through them.  It can be a very powerful and life-changing experience. 

My hope is that my book can provide my readers with that experience of “knowing” someone at the deepest possible level.  If just one American reader comes away thinking of Junee as just that, feeling no need to add the adjective “Korean,” or if just one Korean reader comes away thinking of Sparky or Greg as just themselves, rather than as “those Americans,” then my efforts would have been worthwhile.  If my story can make just one reader even a little bit less likely to prejudge someone based on skin color or social status, then I would have accomplished my goal.  That might not sound like much of a goal.  But I believe that our world will not change unless individuals change, unless we change, each and every one of us. Even a little bit of change in attitude in one person at a time will eventually result in a changed world.  I really believe that.     

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