Welcome to Diversify 2017! Diversify 2017 is a series of interviews and guest posts centering around books that I’m especially looking forward to and that I think truly represent the diversity movement that’s been shaping up these past couple of years. Today TSW’s featuring an action novel set in futuristic Korea called, drumroll please:
Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh
Tentative Release Date: September 2017
After a great war, the East Pacific is in ruins. In brutal Neo Seoul, where status comes from success in combat, ex-gang member Lee Jaewon is a talented pilot rising in the ranks of the academy. Abandoned as a kid in the slums of Old Seoul by his rebel father, Jaewon desires only to escape his past and prove himself a loyal soldier of the Neo State.
When Jaewon is recruited into the most lucrative weapons development division in Neo Seoul, he is eager to claim his best shot at military glory. But the mission becomes more complicated when he meets Tera, a test subject in the government’s supersoldier project. Tera was trained for one purpose: to pilot one of the lethal God Machines, massive robots for a never-ending war.
With secret orders to report on Tera, Jaewon becomes Tera’s partner, earning her reluctant respect. But as respect turns to love, Jaewon begins to question his loyalty to an oppressive regime that creates weapons out of humans. As the project prepares to go public amidst rumors of a rebellion, Jaewon must decide where he stands—as a soldier of the Neo State, or a rebel of the people.
Pacific Rim meets Korean action dramas in this mind-blowing, New Visions Award-winning science fiction debut.
Description taken from Goodreads.
Hi everyone! So happy to be here for #Diversify2017. Recently, some friends and I were discussing how much of the media we consumed in childhood helped to form the stories we tell today as writers. This media includes: books, films, video games, anime, music, dramas, art and more. On that note, I’d like to share with you some of the influences that shaped me as a writer, and that directly inspired me to write REBEL SEOUL, a YA sci-fi action novel set in a futuristic Korea.
Guest Post: Top 5 Influences That Shaped Me
I watched the entire season of Gundam Wing for the first time on Toonami when I was in elementary school. Gundam Wing is a sci-fi mecha anime set in the far future after Earth has colonized space. To combat the allied nations of Earth that oppress the colonies, a rogue operation sends to Earth five teenage boys in mobile suits known as “Gundams” in order to enact vengeance on the alliance. It’s an amazing show, filled with action, friendship, and themes of war and resistance. My eleven-year- old self LOVED this show. Because of it, I was introduced to fanfiction for the first time while searching for more stories with these characters. This show also was the start of my long-enduring love of the mecha genre of anime. In fact, REBEL SEOUL features giant human-piloted robots!
2. Middle School: Korean Films
I love Korean media: K-pop, Korean dramas and films. In this post, I’m focusing on films, specifically these three, because of the strong impression they left on me.
a. My Sassy Girl is a romantic comedy starring Jeon Ji Hyun, the titular Sassy Girl and Cha Tae Hyun, as the boy who chronicles their relationship. As a young Korean American, I loved this film because of its humor rooted in Korean culture, as well as the female heroine—badass, vulnerable, beautiful and courageous. She was—and still is—such an inspiration to me.
b. The Classic is a gorgeously rendered melodrama film following the parallel stories of a daughter, in the present time attending university, and a mother, of her girlhood in the 1960’s~1970’s Korean countryside. The aesthetic of this film is just beautiful and melancholy and the themes of fate, connection, love and history get me every time.
c. Shiri is an action thriller about a North Korean spy who goes undercover into South Korea… there are so many twists and turns in this movie, I don’t want to give anything away if you haven’t seen it. But this movie taught me the power of drama, suspense and “reveals.” The “reveals” in Shiri are gasp-worthy.
StarCraft is a series of military sci-fi real-time strategy computer games. It’s difficult to describe, but basically the premise is that three races (Terran, Protoss, and Zerg) are at war in space, and you can play as any of the races, each of which have their own distinct culture, weapons and architecture. I was actually pretty terrible at StarCraft. My strategy was to either do Zerg rushes or cannon rushes. But it was a lot of fun to play, and I credit my high WPM to StarCraft’s online chat system. In general, playing video games greatly influenced my capacity for worldbuilding, as the worlds that are created for each game are so distinct and fully realized. Other favorite video games include: Final Fantasy, Diablo, Harvest Moon, and Fire Emblem.
I love Cindy Pon’s YA fantasy novels, but her short story “Blue Skies” in Tu Books’ Diverse Energies anthology has a special place in my heart as it was the first time I realized a YA sci-fi short story or novel could be set in Asia. Seems silly, right? But when I was in college, there were very few stories like this one, written by an #ownvoices author and feeling distinctly true to the world and characters. In fact, when I entered Tu Books’ New Visions Award contest, I referenced “Blue Skies” in my cover letter as a direct influence on my work. So excited for Cindy Pon’s WANT (out June, 2017)!
5. Post-College: Korean Novelists
It wasn’t until after I graduated from college that I began writing with the idea that perhaps, one day, I could be published. I was inspired by the many Korean American authors who were already published and were producing such wonderful work: Ellen Oh, Maurene Goo, Jenny Han, Yoon Ha Lee, Renee Ahdieh, Mike Jung, Lydia Kang, Linda Su Park, An Na, and more. I’m always on the lookout for Korean American or Korean authors, so if you have any recommendations, please let me know!
Thank you so much to Eli and The Silver Words for having me here today! Thank you for reading, and I hope you’ll look forward to REBEL SEOUL (out September 2017).
Axie Oh is a graduate of the University of California-San Diego where she studied Korean history and creative writing. Her debut novel, REBEL SEOUL, will be released Fall 2017 from Tu Books. She is currently pursuing an MFA at Lesley University in Writing for Young People and is represented by the fabulous Patricia Nelson of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Her obsessions include: her new puppy, Toro, stationery supplies and milk tea.
Thanks so much to Axie for doing this post! It’s great to see all of these Korean voices novels coming out, and I’ve been honored to host Maurene and Axie in the past two days. Be sure to follow Axie on social media to keep up with all things Rebel Seoul and enter into the giveaway above! We’ll be taking a break over the weekend and start up again on Monday with Scott Reintgen!