Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Author Interview: Annie Heekyung Shinn: Stop To Smell A Rose, or Two

She recently watched a movie where the character spoke of how people rush to get through things to get to what they should be really doing and don’t enjoy the moment. She admits she is one of those people. She often says, “how time flies,” but it is she who allows it to fly by. She spent most of her life dashing from one goal to the next and while getting a bachelor’s degree and two doctorate degrees, she missed many rose bushes along the way. In fact, she probably missed the whole garden. With her big 4-0 birthday coming up (Yikes, is that really a four in front of that zero?) she plans on changing her perspective. She will enjoy the precious moments with family and friends, write because she wants to, not because she has to, and stop to smell a rose, or two.

She is none other than Annie Heekyung Shinn.  Welcome Annie!

Your real name and pen name?
A.H. Shinn is my given name and stands for Annie Heekyung Shinn.

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood
My mother made Korean food daily, so it was a huge treat to go out for pizza! I vividly remember devouring the pizza, breadsticks, salad, and soda when I was kid. Of course now, I want my mother’s Korean cooking.

About your education
I felt for a while that I made a career out of being a student. I spent twelve years in college and another two years as a post-doctoral fellow. I received a B.A. in Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara and a Pharm.D. and Ph.D. in Pharmacology at the University of the Pacific.

What career did you plan during your education days
I loved research and spent many years in the lab as student. After my post-doc, I realized that a career in research would greatly limit my free time, so I decided to earn my pay as a pharmacist while I wrote on my days off.

What languages you can speak and write?
I wish I could say I was better at Korean, but I am severely limited. I am one of those 1.5 generation Korean immigrants whose parents speak Korean to them and respond in English.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life
My parents. They came to America to provide a better life for my family. It was difficult for them in the early years not knowing the English language very well and living on my father’s wage of $2 an hour. They worked hard to become middle class and to give everything they could to my sister and me. My parents have always supported me and my endeavors. They made me believe that I could do anything I put my mind to and that nothing was beyond my reach.

What hurts you most in this world
Hunger. No child or adult should feel the pangs of hunger.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?
Shyness. I had to overcome it because I always loved the performing arts when I was growing up. I loved being on stage and was in the school plays, dance competitions, and music recitals. I also ran for a class office almost every year, so I had no choice but to feel those butterflies and put myself out there.

If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?
Mother Teresa. Her selflessness is truly admirable. It would be freeing to not worry about everyday things and simply work to help others and God.

What is your favorite genre and why?
Fiction. I love the imagination because there are no boundaries.

When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?
I started writing a book when I was about thirteen, but I didn't get very far. I got the idea for Kung Fu Kellie about six years ago and began writing it a year later. My purpose of Kung Fu Kellie was to share my passion for martial arts, but it expanded as I started getting feedback from kids. The story inspired a 9-year old girl to write, and a talk I gave to a fifth grade class about being an author helped with their creativity.  Now, not only do I want to share Kellie’s adventures with the world, but inspire kids to explore their imagination.

Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?
Kung Fu Kellie and the Legend of Anguo was published in 2013. It is the first in a series. Here is the synopsis:

In Kung Fu Kellie and the Legend of Anguo, a baby girl is discovered by a Chinese monk in the mysterious Shenmi Forest. After being unclaimed for some time, the Taiping monks decide to take her in. Kellie Wei loves her unconventional life at the monastery, studying everything from botany to kung fu, but when she is seven years old, she is suddenly swept away to another country. She lives the typical American life with Master Chen until he shares the secrets that have been kept from her. The Taiping monks are being attacked and they fear Kellie could be the target. Some even suspect she may be part of an old legend. Kellie decides to face the unknown threat and journeys to help the monks who raised her. There, she falls into a world she could have never imagined. She meets the mystical animals of kung fu, Mulin, the tiger and Zurich, the crane, but it is not until she encounters her adversary from whom she learns the ultimate secret.

What are your forthcoming writings?
I’m currently working on Book 2 of the Kung Fu Kellie series.

What are your future plans?
After the Kung Fu Kellie series, I want to write a children’s picture book and an adult thriller.

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?
1.      Laughter, tears, or both
2.      A good message
3.      Hooking  the reader
4.      Finding my voice

Your dream destination on Earth?
Anywhere with my husband.

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?
I was born in South Korea, but grew up in California. I pretty much never traveled until I met my husband. If he doesn't take me around the country, I would be a hermit in my home. We haven’t traveled out of the country much, but our next international destinations will be India and Australia.

Your favorite time of the day?
Evening. It’s the time to wind down from a busy day and spend it with your loved ones.

Your zodiac/ sunsign?
I’m not into astrology, but I am an Aries.

Your favorite color and why?
Black. It’s dark and mysterious and everyone looks great in it!

Your favorite book and why?
To Kill a Mockingbird. I loved it as a kid and I loved it as an adult.

Your favorite celebrity and why?
Conan O’Brien. He’s smart, funny, and humble.

Your favorite food?
Pizza. I can never each too much.

Some quickies:
Sun or Moon – Moon
Laughter or Smile – Laughter
Morning or Evening – Evening
Coffee or Tea - Coffee
Mountain or Sea – Sea
Long Drive or Short Drive – Short Drive
Silence or Conversation – Silence
Water or Fire – Water
Air or Earth – Air
Mars or Jupiter – Jupiter
Tulip or Rose – Rose
Red or Blue – Red
Left or Right – Right
Glance or Stare – Glance

What three words come to your mind for each :
Technology – Fast, Confusing, Amazing
Life – Precious, Short, Surprises
God – Love, Forgiveness, Peace
Humanity – Goodwill, Precious, Respect
Terrorism – Sad, Ignorant, Fight
Racism – Ignorance, Hate, Uneducated
Childhood Abuse – Needs to stop
Love – Unconditional, Pain, Happy
Parenting – Hard, Patience, Joy
Old age – Respect, Rest, Enjoy

State your signature line/ tagline/ best quote
“Don’t be afraid to fail.”

The last line of your autobiography would be…
Although this is the end of the last chapter, tomorrow will be a new day and perhaps the start of a new story.

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