Interviewed by Heather Cripps
Read Jihoon Park’s fiction piece, The Big Stunt
Heather: I’m so interested to hear about the creative process behind this piece! What was the inspiration for this story? Did you plan it out first or just let the writing take you where it wanted to go?
Jihoon: I never had a specific reason or any particular narrative in mind, but I had always wanted to write a story about IKEA. After many unfruitful iterations, I had this image of a couple fighting over putting together IKEA furniture, which is kind of hilarious but sad at the same time. Once I started using IKEA as a way to explore domestic conflict, the narrative pieces came together naturally.
To me this piece has underlying themes about capitalism and consumerism, and how that interacts with domesticity and our personal relationships. Was this intentional? Were you setting out to “say” something with this or was it more about telling an exciting story and crafting an explosive narrative?
I personally didn’t write the piece with a goal to “say” something. I almost never write trying to address a particular theme or statement, since I’m very afraid of sounding preachy and I also don’t like reading preachy fiction. But I’m glad this piece ended up with those undertones of capitalism and consumerism, I see both as short-term remedies to more serious problems that we often ignore, not just in personal relationships but also in other areas of life. Maybe the correct amount of preachiness is the amount that comes across when you are purposely trying to avoid it but it ends up being there a little anyway. I’m not sure though, finding this balance is something I’m always working on and trying to do better.
How did you come up with your fictional IKEA products and how much fun did you have doing it?
A lot of fun. I started with picking out random IKEA products that seemed to have the strangest sounding names. I spent a lot of time copy-pasting the names on a pronunciation webpage. Swedish is such a beautiful language, and as someone who knows absolutely nothing about it, I found a lot of joy and humor in the linguistic patterns. For the second halves of the IKEA product names, I attached moments of interaction that I envisioned for the couple in the story, some sad and painful, but others beautiful and loving.
Do you have any advice for authors when handling rejection?
Whenever I get an acceptance, I buy myself a T-bone steak and a six pack of Guinness. I really really really look forward to these dinners, so each rejection fuels me to keep writing and submitting. I know this probably doesn’t apply to every writer, so I’ll just say to keep trying your best and have faith in your work. I definitely don’t have all the answers to submitting and publishing in journals, I’m learning as I go along, but I do know that rejection is a big part of the process. “The Big Stunt” was rejected close to fifteen times before getting published.
What are you currently working on and where can we read more of your work?
I have a couple short stories in the works, one about a herd of squirrel artists and another about Vincent van Gogh’s friendship with a Lego man. If anyone reading this knows an editor that may be interested please let me know haha. I’ve also started working on a novel, which I’m finding to be much more difficult than short stories. I share my published works on Twitter @jihoon_park94, and I also have a website at jihoonsworld.wordpress.com.