An Indies Introduce Q&A with Soyoung Park

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Soyoung Park is the author of Snowglobe, a Winter/Spring 2024 Indies Introduce young adult selection and March/April 2024 Kids’ Indie Next List pick. 

Park majored in information and communication at university and has worked as a reporter. She is a winner of the Original Story Award and the Changbi X Kakaopage Young Adult Novel Award. 

Paul Swydan of The Silver Unicorn Bookstore in Acton, Massachusetts, served on the panel that selected Park’s title for Indies Introduce. 

“Lofty comps are going to come in for this book — The Hunger Games, Squid Game, Snowpiercer, The Truman Show, Moon," said Swydan. "None are quite the perfect comp, but this book is completely deserving of such high praise. This young adult science fiction novel set in a fully realized world is at once enthralling and abhorrent. To say I loved this book would be an understatement." 

Here, Park and Swydan discuss Snowglobe.

Paul Swydan: Was it more important to you to build a world that sounded and felt unique, or one that had logical explanations for how normal people navigate it?

Soyoung Park: I prioritized the logical explanations. I tried to provide the actors in Snowglobe, who willingly expose their privacy for a warm and abundant life, with compelling reasons to embrace that lifestyle. I also aimed to convince the inhabitants of the frozen settlements that their lives are pretty fair. I believed that if the people in the book failed to be content with the principles of the world, readers would inevitably ask, “Why are the people in this book so stupid?” I did my best to save readers from that annoying reading experience. Meanwhile, the image of a magnificent Snowglobe full of green and sunshine, surrounded by a snowy world, seemed unique to me, considering that normally snow globes are the ones that are supposed to snow.

PS: A theme of the book seemed to be trying to find empathy for undeserving people. Was that a conscious choice?

SP: Did it seem like I found empathy for people who didn’t deserve it? I didn’t even notice! I just wanted each character to have reasons for their actions, even when they do something unpleasant and bad. I think it’s relatively easy to create a purely evil character because they’re flat. In the same sense, perfectly good people are boring for me to write. I prefer complex characters.

But, at the same time, it’s important for the main character to have “main character energy”, and it’s impossible to fit all kinds of aspects into just one person. So I sliced the complexity into pieces and planted each piece in various characters. This allowed me to enjoy writing every character in Snowglobe, even the ones you might have disliked.

PS: I’ve seen or thought of a lot of fantastic comparisons for the book, including Snowpiercer, The Hunger Games, Squid Game, and Parasite. Do you welcome any of these?

SP: I’m truly happy that there is diverse Korean content people can think of when they read Snowglobe. And being compared with famous Korean movies and series and popular books like The Hunger Games is such an honor! It means that Snowglobe can be recommended to those who have enjoyed at least one of them, which is most people who like fictional stories.

Interestingly, The Truman Show isn’t mentioned as much, which is my choice of comps for the book. After I was done with setting up Snowglobe, I was like, “Wait, isn’t it The Truman Show?” So I watched the movie again for the first time since middle school — no need to remark on how terrific a movie it is — and was relieved to find that Snowglobe had a different universe from Truman’s. I’m still not sure which universe is more brutal and inhumane. I welcome everyone who was fascinated by The Truman Show to dive into Snowglobe and discuss with me which life is more heartbreaking: Truman’s, or Goh Haeri’s in Snowglobe.

PS: Your protagonist, Jeon Chobahm, is the book’s moral center. What was the inspiration for her?

SP: I wanted to write an imperfect heroine who could make immoral choices. Chobahm’s imperfection is not due to her young age nor because she is naive. Her desire to become the director of the greatest reality show ever blinds her and provides self-justification when she makes wrong decisions.

I’m attracted to characters with big desires, and my biggest crush of the type was Amy Dunne from Gone Girl. It might sound unusual if I say that Amy Dunne was the inspiration behind a YA heroine, and in fact, Chobahm is not even close to Amy in her badass ways. But if I hadn’t kept Amy in my mind, Chobahm would have been a dull good girl. The rest of Chobahm’s morality is based on me, the ideal version of myself who had enough courage to challenge the immoral system. But I don’t think that I’d ever be that brave, so the power of Chobahm’s morality is entirely her own.

PS: Jeon Chobahm also provides a striking example of “fake it till you make it.” Has there ever been a situation where you had to fake it till you made it?

SP: My writing journey is a great example of “fake it till you make it.” I started writing novels as a hobby after work, then became a part-time writer, and eventually turned into a full-time writer. I dreamed of becoming a novelist for a long time, and one day I just decided to be one. I quit my job without any book contracts waiting for me. I went to a cafe with my laptop every day, daydreaming, writing, revising, facing rejections, falling into hazards, being content with what I created, and receiving feedback, just like any writer does. The only difference between real writers and me was that I wasn’t getting paid for what I was doing.

Indeed, there were many days when I felt like I wasn’t the right material for a proper writer and that I was too reckless. But I kept faking it, and voila, now I’m featured in the Indies Introduce Q&A! I’d like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all the indie bookstores that will have Snowglobe on their shelves, making me feel that my “faking it” has finally made it.

Snowglobe by Soyoung Park, Joungmin Lee Comfort (Transl.) (Delacorte Press, 9780593484975, Hardcover Young Adult Science Fiction, $20.99) On Sale: 2/27/2024

ABA member stores are invited to use this interview or any others in our series of Q&As with Indies Introduce debut authors in newsletters and social media and in online and in-store promotions. Please let us know if you do.