fancracked: Can you tell us a bit about each story that you’ve written?
sol: My signature on Soomp! has the lines: Love, Heart, Body, Soul, Mind. Each is a symbolization of my stories. Love Bugged represents the Love (I can’t divulge the reasons yet). Conversations between Us represents the Heart (Yoon JaeWon and Lee Maybelline Lee’s love). Banana Pancakes represents the Soul (Lee DongMin and Kim SuVy’s eye sight). The Joy of being Happy represents the Body (Jeong JiHyun’s ‘prison’ that trapped in her pain). The Ardor Series represents the Mind (Choi SiWan, Ara, and BoMi’s mental agony).
Conversations between Us (CBU) was the first story I posted on Soomp! but it certainly wasn’t the first story that I had ever written back in 2005. I was very new to Soomp! at the time (and I still spell Soomp! with an exclamation mark because that was a part of the logo at the time); however, I was only a handful of months into posting CBU when the crash occurred. I always mention the infamous Soomp! crash of 2005 because I remember the panic that spread throughout the Soomp! fanfiction section; many impressionable and notable stories were lost and never recovered. As a result, some writers did not repost their works nor did they continue to write. In a way, the Soomp! crash seemed to have deterred the momentum. However, it was a blessing in disguise for me due to the fact that I was writing on Banana Pancakes (BP) at the same time that I was posting CBU; therefore, the crash made me realize just how much I valued BP – just much how I wanted to share it.
Not many know this, but I actually started writing BP before CBU. However, while I worked out the kinks in BP I decided to post CBU first. I am the type of writer who enjoys the writing process privately before I choose to share my stories publicly. As a result, before I post a story on Soomp! the story is 98% completed; the other 2% is mainly chapter edits such as grammar, sentence-structure, spelling. However, I am never too concerned with the semantics of writing. My philosophy about fiction writing is – know the grammar rules; become intimate with them so that when you break up, you are able to defend your purpose for doing so. As I once stated in my TJOBH thread: I intentionally write fragmented sentences, hyphening words and sentences without the need to, placing prepositions in inappropriate places, confirming and re-affirming open-ended sentences, starting sentences with And’s, But’s, Or’s, and so forth with the constant conjecstion of verbs, adverbs, and adjectives. My uses of clauses with bits of pronouns and broken nouns are all alive and breeding well in my writing. Yet, I manage to get the story across because words hit the hardest – mean the most – when they are awkward and unconventionally placed together. They’re attention-grabbing because they’re in the wrong place and at the wrong time.
And so CBU first started out with the title, “Conversations between a Gentleman and a Lady” in 2005. It was to be considered a fun yet intriguing title because I wanted a title that was impressionable at the same time it spoke volumes about the plot. The possibility of a gangster being a gentleman and a girl named Maybelline Lee, with her childish personality, being a lady – trying to hold a conversation was the double-play I was aiming for. However, during the Soomp! crash I had time to reconsider the title of the story as I finalized the ending. As a result, when I re-posted the story I chose to shorten the title to “Conversations between Us.” Ultimately, the ending of CBU was to question if characters had utilized conversations in a mindful style, they wouldn’t have fallen in the trap of miscommunication which essentially caused their misfortunes. CBU is all about the underlying messages of what we want to say to people, but sometimes they are misinterpreted or lost in translation. Of course in conversations, we have the ability to tell the truth as well as to lie; therefore, conversations between the characters were vitally important to their well-being although in the end all is lost. I mentioned the idea of CBU being viewed as “gangster’s paradise” with the pun intended on “paradise.” It was more like paradise lost in the end; however, the moral of it is I believe “When you play with fire, expect to get burned.” CBU was so alive because of its characters and the running chain of events. Ultimately, I believe it was unforgettable because there was so much hope at stake that the ending was so memorable.
I don’t think I can mention CBU without mentioning the favorite line, “April Loves Black Coffee.” At the time I wrote it, I never deemed it to be a memorable line in the story. I just thought it was the perfect note to represent May and JaeWon; however, after that chapter was released on Soomp! it was tagged on many Soompiers’ signatures. The line took on a life of its own and became quite popular, much to my surprise. However, I began to realize that when a line from the story becomes bigger than the moral of the story – I found myself a little weary of the effects and finally understood the term, “pop culture” if you will. To this day, I still have a hard time accepting “April Loves Black Coffee” as representing all of CBU because it wasn’t something that belonged to the story itself – it was more generated by popular inclination. After CBU, I was much more careful in creating any popular slogans, tag-lines, or so forth with the rest of my writings because I felt “April Loves Black Coffee” – while significant to readers who fell in love with the story – wasn’t the only line that meant something in CBU. Many readers may disagree with me, but I personally still note one of Choi SangWoo’s last line to May, “I think I just wrote the ending for you.” So I guess what I trying to get across while it is nice to have a line represent one of your most popular stories, one saying wasn’t a means to an end. It is a flattering tribute given from the readers themselves, however. So in many ways, April Loves Black Coffee still contributes to why I refer to CBU as “The Heart.”
Banana Pancakes started out as a simple love story between two best friends. I wanted to explore the timeless question, “Can men and women just be friends? Can two childhood friends grow up to avoid any romantic links?” As a result, the basis for the storyline came to fruition through the scenes and in the plot. Many readers asked me over the course of the story, “Is Banana Pancakes real?” – and yes, it is. It is pancakes, but banana flavored. I thought the name was befitting of the story between Lee DongMin and Kim SuVy due to the fact that it fit well into the particular scene where SuVy and DongMin realized they could be more than friends; also, I simply thought banana pancakes was such a unique name to title a fiction regarding the two best friends. Only after I posted up the story was I introduced by some readers regarding a Jack Johnson song with the same title; being the musically-inclined person that I am, I saw the inclination for it.
BP was a great experience to write because I could explore the depth of a friendship while having the freedom to sprinkle romance on it. I created Kim SuVy and Lee DongMin as these two unbelievably “perfect” characters; therefore, the plot seemed rather superficial. However, the ending makes up for it I believe. It was meant to be one of those “feel good” stories, but then the moral of the story overtook that notion. The idea of “The Soul” was given at the end of the story which ultimately brought the story full-circle. One of the things that makes BP stand out to be is the idea of the soul and how the eyes are the windows to the soul; I once heard/read someone who refuted the statement and noted, “Whoever said that the eyes are the window to the soul never thought of the blind man.” As a result, no matter what happens to SuVy and DongMin – they are still linked by the soul.
The Joy of Being Happy was being posted at the same time BP was in 2008; I remember posting a chapter in the BP thread and then rushing over to post TJOBH. I initially came up with the title when I was outlining the plot of the story; at the time, I wanted to write about happiness and the fact that happiness (like other emotions) need to be enjoyed as well. Otherwise, happiness would be something much like a void that we may feel, particularly in our depressive state. As a result, the title was a play on words and I felt it was appropriate at the time to depict the plot. I think The Joy of Being Happy is an entertaining read for readers while it was therapeutic for me. The fiction took itself very seriously at times, but at the end of the day writing it was quite an experience for me and I am sure for its readers as well. I particularly enjoyed the fact that it is a contentious fiction in terms of plot. “The Body” is Jeong JiHyun’s own representation and feeling that her body was her own prison. Thus, she engaged in self-destructive behaviors to attempt to ease her pain. The mature rating for it constituted and even aimed to excuse the overt references to sex, infidelity, alcohol/drugs, and so forth. However, I couldn’t touch upon the reality and raw aspect of the plot if I was too mindful of being politically correct. I don’t think I ever am when it comes to writing, however.
The Ardor Series, as I noted, was as dark as they come. I don’t think I can quite coherently put into words what this story meant to me at the time of its conception. It is a relatively short story compared to my other fictions, yet it sticks in my mind a lot. The dark space it occupied in my mind for the longest time, I have trouble articulating because I actually started this story back in 2005 (at the same time I was writing CBU and BP) with two separate plots in mind that I wanted to connect together. However, the similar themes eventually meshed together and I reduced it to one plot, one story. I think one of the things that I enjoyed the most regarding TAS was the suicide scene. As I stated before, I do not in any way condone or want to glamorize suicidal thoughts, tendencies, and actions; however, that one scene was so crucial to introducing the story that even to this day when I re-read what I have written – the image is as still vivid as it could be in my mind. So, I dubbed it as “The Mind” because in many ways it was. That haunting feeling TAS leaves makes for an entertaining read (if you enjoy it as so) and an excellent one to write.
Currently, I am posting Love Bugged. It is the last gang-related plot I will ever touch upon for a very long time. The thought had occurred to me not longer after I finished posting TJOBH that CBU and BP are heavily invested with gang-related activities, characters, and cruelty; with the birth of Love Bugged toward the end of 2008 – I realized I wanted it to be the final story to make up and wrap up the trilogy. Therefore, I drew up a plot that would allow some of the characters (with unfinished stories/business in CBU and BP) to have their stories told. In addition to that, Love Bugged was given a title befitting of its ultimate ending. It is a very violent fiction and it touches upon all aspects of human relationships, including some issues that are often ignored in the shadows. I would have to say it is the most thrilling fiction for me to have written due to the fact that it is a roller coaster of everything thrown into a cocktail. Indeed, its end will be “the Love.”
fancracked: If you could spend a day with any of your characters, who would it be and why?
sol: If I could spend a day with any of my characters, I would probably choose all the favorite ones I mentioned: Choi SangWoo, Lee DongMin & Kim SuVy (so that I could interview them separately and inquire why they are so dysfunctional), Choi SiWan and Ara (so that they could have one sitting together again), Jeong JiHyun and Ivy would definitely be great subjects to spend the day with, and definitely Kenita TamHee, Kyung K.Ven, and Kimauro Seijun (although he might intimidate me with his Encyclopedic brain).
With Choi SangWoo, we would probably do something that he really enjoys – go for a long car ride or somewhere scenic. If I could dissect or gain further insight to the affection he holds for MiSun/Maybelline Lee, it would be a day well spent. The depth of his violent affection is intriguing, and he is a character that you never know if he is going to ask you for a hug or hire a band of assassins to get rid of you at the end of the day. Not to say that this excites me in any way, but I want to spend the day with him just to pick his brain.
With Kim SuVy and DongMin, the two of them would probably end up ignoring me the entire time we spend together because they are so wrapped up in their own worlds. I wouldn’t mind feeling like the third wheel if Lee DongMin would give me a ride on that badass motorcycle of his and tag along with Kim SuVy to a photo shoot. There’s many things to do with the two of them. As for Choi SiWan and Ara I would probably start the day off with the three of us and then eventually leave so that they could be alone; I don’t think I would be able to handle the bubbling affection between an assassin and the daughter of a crime lord.
Jeong JiHyun and Ivy; I would probably enjoy a nice lunch with the two of them despite the fact that they are mortal memories. At least, I could play therapist and engage them in a conversation as to why things have turned out so sour for the two of them. Lastly, TamHee, Ven, and Boe would be what I consider the “holy trinity” to spend the day with. I don’t know what I would do with these three equally fierce characters. But I would enjoy the dynamics of our conversations and maybe have TamHee teach me some of her Taekwondo skills – try it on Ven and Boe, then call it a day.
fancracked: Sometimes I’ve found that I’ve grown with a particular character or storyline through time. Has this happened with you and any of your stories/characters? ^^
sol: I think I’ve grown with all my characters in all of my stories over time. I spend quite a number of years with them. CBU was three years, BP was four years, TJOBH was two/three years, TAS was four years, and Love Bugged was two years. I’ve grown tremendously with my characters over the duration of my writing about them and tweaking the plot until it exhausted its own self. There is not one story I can single out to point to state that I’ve particularly grown with them because they each have raised me in ways that words cannot explain, define, nor cement.
fancracked: When reading through your fics, it is evident that you’ve tried to sculpt very real, very 3-D characters (needless to say, in worlds that you’ve clearly envisioned and understand). Did you ever face any challenges trying to come up with different character traits and/or scenarios? — Also, although this question doesn’t need to be asked since the answer is technically obvious… What is so important about developing 3-D characters as opposed to flat, 2-D characters for you as a writer?
sol: As a writer, to say that you never face challenges in sculpting your characters or stories are not realistic reflections upon your writing experience I believe. I do admit the scenarios come to me quite easily since the backbone of my stories – my plot/storyline – are usually very solid before I even consider drawing up the scenes that would carry out the story. However, the challenge (or what I usually call as critical development) I encounter is character development and trait. The reason being is that I want to make sure I have the character be faithful to the personality traits that I have pictured. I believe that writers have their own style when it comes to creating characters that are suitable for their plots; I like to think of us as casting directors. We cast characters in our writings that are conducive to our plots and storylines. If a character is unfit, it shows either through the awkward dialogue, scenes, or brush with other characters. As a result, it is vitally important to develop three-dimensional characters as they reflect the realistic component in the fiction/story. Flat two-dimension characters are also important too; their roles can be to enhance the 3-D character, provide temporary hiatus from the main plot, and even inject humor or become a catalyst for the main characters and events in the story.
My actual writing roots stem from writing diaries as a child; collectively to date, I have approximately 10 diaries (regular notebook style filled with numerous anecdotes, rants, and reflections). I suppose after a while of writing about myself, I decided to turn to another type of writing outlet – fiction. In the beginning, I began writing short stories that resembled typical anecdotes. Mostly, they were stories I wanted to tell – inspired by music, movies, real life observations, and so forth. Soon, I began to discover that writing provided me a truly personal means of channeling my thoughts in a meaningful way. As a result, I began pursuing writing as a hobby because it became a form of therapy for me – a coping mechanism that allowed me to escape the demands of reality. When I write, I am the most free. As a result, the characters that I have created and will create – whether they were 3-D or 2-D allow me to move my mental mind state.
Don Dellio, the American author and playwright, once stated, “Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in making all around us. In the end, writers write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.” This quote of his entirely embodies what it means for me to write. Even E.L. Doctorow once stated, “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”
This struck me more than anything when Graham Greene once noted, “Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear, which is inherent in a human condition.”
These quotes strike very close to the reasons why I write and why I choose to share my stories; no matter what, at the end of day, I was able to engage in a selfish therapeutic session through my stories and their characters. Although I created them, they bring me unconditional joy. The value is intangible even through words; therefore, your characters become people you get acquainted with. Even though they can be the most vile, deceitful, vindictive characters – I still can’t hate them because they provided me a stage to “breathe” and “live on.” And even though they are the most peaceful, flawless, and likeable characters – I still don’t fall in love with them because to love perfect characters is to set yourself up for disappointment when you find out the truth about them.
— Part I can be found here.
— Part III can be found here.