Publishers' Preview: Spring 2021: Five Questions for Graci Kim

This interview originally appeared in the March/April 2021 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Spring 2021, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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The Last Fallen Star finds the seemingly “non-gifted” Riley in conflict with her magic-wielding family and darker forces that threaten the very existence of her L.A.-based clan.

1. I see there’s a branch of your magical grocery store, H-Mart, near me in ­Cambridge. What should I buy there?

I’d recommend starting with Lotte Kkokkalcorn — corn chips in the shape of little cones. You pop them on your fingers like nails and devour them one by one. I’d wash them down with a chilled Binggrae banana milk, then finish the experience off with a Samanco ice cream sandwich. Shaped like a fish and filled with creamy vanilla ice cream and sweet red beans…You’re welcome!

2. Would you have invoked a forbidden spell?

*Cough cough* (into the elbow). When I was sixteen, I may or may not have run away with the circus for a short time. So I suspect the answer to that question is yes.

3. Have you ever had to hide who you are?

Growing up in a predominantly Pākehā environment (the Māori term for a white New Zealander), fitting in felt paramount. Kids spit in my lunch and told me to go back to my own country. I felt shame about my Korean heritage for reasons I couldn’t understand. But writing has allowed me to find my way back to me, turning my shame to pride. After all, if you can’t hide it, you might as well flaunt it!

4. What did you read that made you want to write?

The first books that lit a fire in my writerly soul were The Baby-Sitters Club. As a kid, I wrote a chapter-book mashup of the club and the Spice Girls, which I called The Multicoloured Club. I made my friends act out the characters, including a fully choreographed lip-synced dance performance.

5. Any favorite jewelry of yours we might need to keep an eye on?

I’m currently jewelry-less due to a cheeky one-year-old who seems to think anything of mine looks better in her sticky, grubby hands (or mouth!). I’ve been known to wear a necklace with the face of Medusa on it. It was the first thing my mum bought for herself with her hard-earned money as a young woman. To me, it is a symbol of her dedication, perseverance, and independence. I wear it proudly like a badge.

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Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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