New author interview: Ellen Oh


Ellen Oh, a writer/blogger, will have a new book out soon! Seven Kingdoms is a young adult fantasy set in ancient Korea. I can’t WAIT to get my hands on this!! Here’s a snippet of Tarie Sabido’s interview with Ellen:

What inspired you to write Seven Kingdoms?

Well, it all started with Genghis Khan back in 2000. Time magazine named him man of the millennium and I went out and picked up a biography on him. Surprisingly, I learned more Korean history in a biography about a Mongol than I ever learned in school. It made me really curious about ancient Korea. However, trying to find history books was nearly impossible. The library and bookstores here in the States only went as far as the Korean War. That meant I had to rely on the internet and my Dad to learn about Korean history. My dad was awesome! When he found out I wanted to learn about Korea and write about it, he went to the Korean consulate and borrowed and bought books from them that I couldn’t get on my own. I also bought lots of books off the internet from a Korean distributor. When my husband saw how much I spent on books, he told me I’d better be writing the great American novel.

All that research was worth it. I was fascinated by the Three Kingdoms Period and it became the basis for my Young Adult novel,the Seven Kingdoms.

Check our Tarie Sabido’s interview with Ellen here and Ellen Oh’s website here.

Creating Orphans

“Celebrity Adoptions and the Real World” on NYTimes:

There are simply not enough healthy, adoptable infants to meet Western demand — and there’s too much Western money being spent in search of those healthy babies…For each child adopted by a Western family, adoption agencies pay fees that are grossly oversized compared to local per capita incomes. Some of those children desperately need homes. But not always. In countries like Albania, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, the Marshall Islands, Nepal, Romania, Samoa and Vietnam, unwittingly — and too often — good-hearted Westerners who wanted to save an orphan have created one instead. (EJ Graff)


While it is best for parents and adopted children to be of similar race and ethnicity, studies show that black children languish, unplaced, in the foster care system for much longer than other children do. It is important to get them out of the system and place them with loving families. (Marguerite A. Wright)

… uMmm can we please first talk about why there are so many more black children in foster care in the first place?

Celebrity adoptions, unfortunately like many other international adoptions, are about the desire of rich people for the children of the poor. The adoption myth is that the world is full of orphans who need families; celebrity adoptions remind us that the world is really full of poor families who need assistance.

International adoption needs to be reformed by implementation of the subsidiarity principle: assistance toward maintaining the children in their original family and community must be attempted prior to any international placement. (David Smolin)


Read the rest of the article (and the comments) here.

A Narrative Compass: Stories That Guide Women’s Lives

What I’m reading now: A Narrative Compass: Stories That Guide Women’s Lives, edited by Betsy Hearne and Roberta Seelinger Trites (U Illinois Press 2009)

From the introduction:

Each of us has a narrative compass, one or more stories that have guided our lifework. This project invited women scholars from a variety of disciplines to identify and examine the stories that have motivated them and shaped their research. Telling the “story of her story” leads each of the essayists in the book to insights about her own methods of textual analysis and to a deeper, often surprising, understanding of the connective power of imagination. A scholar of “Beauty and the Beast” can see parallels between the fairy tale and her own journeys of scholarly maturation; an Alcott scholar perceives how Little Womenhas led to many of the literary and academic decisions she has made; a scholar of Chinese literature discovers at a crucial juncture that her intellectual and physical survival depends on Jottings from the Transcendant’s Adobe at Mt. Youtai. This process of storytelling about the stories that have inspired and haunted us brings to the surface the structures, themes, and language that seeded our work. 

… When people understand the relationship between text and context, they often do so because of their internalized knowledge of storytelling. But when the academy teaches us to silence our voices as storytellers—as women scholars often report has happened to them—the disjuncture that results makes us unable to use narrative itself as an analytical tool. This collection of essays demonstrates how the stories we have appropriated shape our interpretive abilities. 

Read the rest of the introduction here

May we all find our own narrative compasses.