Cheon Sun-ran, a writer who graduated from the Department of Literary Creative Writing at Dankook University, joined the writing staff of Geoul, in October 2019. She was awarded first place for her work Crumbled Bridge at BritG, while her novel Nuclear Apocalypse won an award in the best SF category. She also won the top prize at the 7th ZA Literature Contest for her story called ‘A Body with No Name’. More recently, she was awarded the grand prize for her novel ‘A Thousand Waves’ at the 4th Korean Science Literature Awards.
The novel ‘A Thousand Waves’ talks about ‘speed’ and ‘breath’ through the relationship between a racehorse facing euthanasia and its robot rider. The racehorse symbolizes the development of technology, revealing the holes in development hidden behind our need for speed. Living in Bupyeong, Incheon, the writer grew up watching General Motors employee sit-ins for about 10 years. Both technology and machines have evolved through the production of cars that pursue a higher speed, while there are people who are still struggling to survive. The writer raises question about who development benefits. Humanoid Collie’s emphasis on the ‘breath’ in conversations between the horse and human is also a literary device that points out the reality that few people understand each other through conversation. To understand more about her values for writing, the Dankook Herald (the DKH) interviewed Cheon Sun-ran.
|▲ The picture of the writer Cheon Sun-ran, who wrote 'A Broken Bridge', 'A Thousand Waves' etc. (Photo from writer Cheon Sun-ran)|
Q1. When did you start writing novels? What was the first novel you created?
A. I started writing in the form of a novel after I entered an art high school, but I had created stories before. I was a child who liked daydreaming. When I was in elementary school, I used to create stories with my friend at the playground. At that time, I thought we were having fun talking about chimerical ideas. Nowadays, however, I think all those ideas were a kind of creation. The first novel I wrote in high school was about a sister desperately hoping to revive her younger brother, who is in an incubator.
Q2. What point do you care about the most when writing a novel?
A. Internally, I care about the character the most. I try to make characters who are likely to be alive somewhere. I hope the characters will be loved by the readers. External problems are always complicated and difficult. I hope my story is comforting and pleasing to someone, but it's hard. So, I write novels while thinking, ‘At least, I should not hurt someone’.
Q3. What is your motto?
A. I like the word "steady." Persistence and effort does not always pay off, but it is essential to keep trying to achieve my goals.
Q4. If you had any advice you wanted to give to students dreaming of becoming a writer, what would you say?
A. Unfortunately, I was not a writer who suddenly came up with an idea and started writing sentences. I was an aspiring writer who woke up at 7 a.m. and started my day sitting in front of my laptop. If you're not inspired, , I recommend you change your method and write regularly. Habits last a lifetime. When you get into a habit of writing at a certain time of day, you will be able to write at that time, regardless of your will.
Q5. What was the hardest part of creating work with a dream of being a writer? How did you overcome it?
A. Since there is a hierarchical system in Korea, it is easy to become frustrated if your literary career fails to take off. This happened to me, too. I lost confidence and interest in writing novels for some time. But it wasn't easy for me to give up. It's 2020! People live with cell phones in their hands all the time. I thought, ‘In the era of personal broadcasting, should I become a novelist only through a sponsored debut?’ I surfed the Internet, found a platform that suited me and started to serialize SF novels there. And when I had my own readers, I felt empowered to try harder. In fact, the most painful thing in creative writing is indifference and uncertainty. Since no one would come and read my novel, I simply thought about putting it on an external hard drive and uploading it on the internet, so that people could read it.
Q6. What message did you want to convey to the readers with 'A Thousand Waves'?
A. Speed and respiration of our time. I lived in Bupyeong, Incheon, and grew up watching GM Auto employees' protest for nearly 10 years. Although technology has evolved, by making cars that value speed, there are people struggling to survive. I thought a lot about whom that technology and struggle was for.
Besides these social problems, technology has become far too familiar to us and as a result, we don't talk much. Maybe that's why sometimes I don't feel like I'm communicating even when I'm talking with someone. That's what I wanted to talk about through the novel. At what speed and with whom are we living.
Through the interview, we learned of writer Cheon Seon-ran’s affection for writing and SF novels. She is an imaginative, enthusiastic writer who stresses the importance of studying society as well as the subject matter of the novel. Together with writer Cheon Seon-ran, the DKH is looking forward to the further development of SF novels.
|▲ The cover of the book, 'The Broken Bridge' written by Cheon Sun-ran. (Photo from Naver Book)|
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