Author of Inconvenient Daughter
This interview has a very special place in my heart as it is the first one I am publishing on my blog. I will be forever grateful to Lauren and her team for giving me the opportunity to do this.
An Inconvenient Daughter has become one of my favourite books. I loved it so much when I read it. I reached out to Lauren’s team with more than a few questions thinking she may answer two or three with a bit of luck. To my surprise, she took the time to answer every single one of them thoroughly.
Thank you, Lauren, for your generosity.
LAUREN J. SHARKEY is a writer, teacher, and transracial adoptee. After her birth in South Korea, she was adopted by Irish Catholic parents and raised on Long Island. Sharkey’s creative nonfiction has appeared in the Asian American Feminist Collective’s digital storytelling project, First Times, as well as several anthologies including I Am Strength! and Women under Scrutiny. Inconvenient Daughter is her debut novel, and loosely based on her experience as a Korean adoptee.
Inconvenient Daughter by Lauren J. Sharkey is released on 23rd June, 2020.
Before I continue with the interview, I would like to list a few links where you can purchase Inconvenient Daughter. These links are not sponsored.
- Inconvenient Daughter by Lauren J. Sharkey on AbeBooks
- Inconvenient Daughter by Lauren J. Sharkey on Amazon
- Inconvenient Daughter by Lauren J. Sharkey on Google Play
- Inconvenient Daughter by Lauren J. Sharkey on IndieBound
- Inconvenient Daughter by Lauren J. Sharkey on IndiGo
Without further ado….
-First and foremost, congratulations on the publication of your first book, Inconvenient Daughter. When did you realize you wanted to write a story loosely based on you own personal experience?
Thank you! It still feels pretty surreal this is all happening – I have to pinch myself every now and then haha. I’ve always enjoyed writing – keeping journals and writing short stories from a young age. Inconvenient Daughter, at least the first fifty or so pages of it, was actually my thesis for my MFA program. Originally it had started as a memoir, but as I did more research, I realized the story I wanted to tell was different than the life I had lived.
– When you were writing the book, did you research other transracial adoption stories?
I did interview a few other transracial adoptees, but the majority of my research was the history of adoption, specifically international adoption in Asia. I also did an extensive amount of research on the bond between mother and child biologically, which was key to Rowan’s development.
– What other authors do you like to read?
Oh man, how much time do you have? Off the top of my head, Cheryl Strayed, Celeste Ng, Denis Johnson, Leslie Jamison, and Alice Sebold were all major influences for me. On my TBR list is Kevin Kwan’s Sex and Vanity, A Map is Only One Storyedited by Nicole Chung, Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett (the lead singer of The Airborne Toxic Event, one of my favorite bands of all time), and Wilder Girls by Rory Power.
– What was the hardest part about writing Inconvenient Daughter?
The biggest challenge for me was two-fold: I wanted to tell the truth, but I didn’t want to tell just my truth. I think what sets Inconvenient Daughter apart from other adoption-related books is that it’s not centered around reunion. Additionally, I wanted to tell a story that was different from the adoption narrative so often portrayed in the media. By that same token, a lot of my experience informed Rowan and her journey. I definitely gave some of my experiences to her, and it was difficult to go back to some of the darker moments in my life.
– Did you feel any pressure when writing about Rowan Kelly or did it feel like a natural process or even catharsis?
I definitely felt pressure. I didn’t want her to just be a character – I wanted her to be real. And to be real, you kind of need to fuck up lol. I didn’t want to shy away from Rowan’s ugly side – I wanted the reader to not only see Rowan make mistakes but also to be mad at her. Rowan says and does some terrible things – she isn’t without fault. I think that’s what makes her so interesting to follow – she’s human.
– Now that your first book has been published, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Before I applied to graduate school, I had two different mentors tell me two different things which I’d love to share.
I had just gone back to finish my bachelor’s, and I want to my writing professor and told her I wanted to write a book. She took a deep breath and said, “Then you have to want it. You have to want it more than you want anything else. And you have to work.” I said, “I do” but I don’t think I really understood what she meant until I was actually in grad school.
You do need to want it more than anything else, but you also need to understand what writing is. Writing is reading. It’s writing, revising, rewriting, rejection, anger, sadness, joy. It’s not giving up. So, to the young writer out there who feels like it’s never going to happen, who feels like it’s not going anywhere or that they can’t do it – you are seen, you are enough, and you can do this. Keep fucking going.
The other thing I was told was from another mentor. When I signed the book contract she said, “Congratulations, Lauren. I’m proud of you but remember, this won’t save you.”
Like many writers, I saw publication as the finish line. I think a lot of writers think publication – especially book publication – is going to validate them, is going to make it all worth it…is going to fix everything. For a long time, I thought all those things too. Even after I signed the contract, I thought everything was going to change – that I was going to somehow be different. But I’m still me.
The truth is that putting the final period on the last draft of Inconvenient Daughter is what I remember more than signing the contract. I was proud I had actually finished something, that I had stuck with it and gotten the story out. And I felt like I could be okay if no one saw it because it didn’t change the fact that I had written it.
Publishing won’t save you – you’ve got to save yourself.
– Rowan Kelly shares similarities to you in that you are both transracial adoptees trying to understand life. Did you learn anything new about yourself whilst portraying her?
Writing Rowan is definitely one of the most difficult and amazing things I’ve ever had to do. I think I learned that you’ve never done growing up lol. I wouldn’t say I learned anything new about myself, but I for sure learned I can still surprise myself.
– When you aren’t writing, what does your typical day look like?
I’m an early riser, so I’m usually up at 6AM. If I’m being good, I’ll make a green smoothie – if I’m being me, I’m heating up left over pizza for breakfast lol. I work at a specialty pharmacy by day, so I’m there until 5:30PM. After work, I’m usually writing, baking, or watching Cutthroat Kitchen lol. I have a one-track mind.
– I loved Inconvenient Daughter so my final question for you is: what’s next for you? Are you working on a new book?
I am! Without giving too much away, I’m currently working on a novel about three sisters, who are also transracial adoptees, searching for their biological mother
Paperback: 232 pages Publisher: Kaylie Jones Books (June 23, 2020) Language: English ISBN-10: 1617757098 ISBN-13: 978-1617757099 Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
Disclaimer: I would like to thank Kaylie Jones Books an imprint of Akashic Books for an advanced copy of Inconvenient Daughter by Lauren J. Sharkey. I would also like to thank MindBuck Media Book Publicity for facilitating my interview with Lauren J. Sharkey and providing with the author picture. This interview is not sponsored. Jemima Reads is the sole owner of this interview, and it may not be reproduced without permission. For more information, please contact me on: JemimaReads@writeme.com
About the author: LAUREN J. SHARKEY is a writer, teacher, and transracial adoptee. After her birth in South Korea, she was adopted by Irish Catholic parents and raised on Long Island. Sharkey’s creative nonfiction has appeared in the Asian American Feminist Collective’s digital storytelling project, First Times, as well as several anthologies including I Am Strength! and Women under Scrutiny. Inconvenient Daughter is her debut novel, and loosely based on her experience as a Korean adoptee.