This is my stop on the Tour for Made in Korea by Sarah Suk. I am honored that I was able to interview the author, so big thanks to TBR and Beyond Tours, as well Sarah herself! You can click on the banner below to view the full schedule and explore other’s posts!
About the Book
Title: Made in Korea
Author: Sarah Suk
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publication Date: May 18th, 2021
Frankly in Love meets Shark Tank in this feel-good romantic comedy about two entrepreneurial Korean American teens who butt heads—and maybe fall in love—while running competing Korean beauty businesses at their high school.
There’s nothing Valerie Kwon loves more than making a good sale. Together with her cousin Charlie, they run V&C K-BEAUTY, their school’s most successful student-run enterprise.With each sale,Valerie gets closer to taking her beloved and adventurous halmeoni to her dream city, Paris.
Enter the new kid in class, Wes Jung, who is determined to pursue music after graduation despite his parents’ major disapproval. When his classmates clamor to buy the K-pop branded beauty products his mom gave him to “make new friends,” he sees an opportunity—one that may be the key to help him pay for the music school tuition he knows his parents won’t cover . . .
What he doesn’t realize, though, is that he is now V&C K-BEAUTY’s biggest competitor.
Stakes are high as Valerie and Wes try to outsell each other, make the most money, and take the throne for the best business in school—all while trying to resist the undeniable spark that’s crackling between them. From hiring spies to all-or-nothing bets, the competition is much more than either of them bargained for.
But one thing is clear: only one Korean business can come out on top.
Thank you so much Sarah for taking the time to answer my questions!
What inspired you to write Made in Korea? Did you have any personal experiences that influenced the story?
My inspiration for Made in Korea began with the desire to write a fun, contemporary,
unapologetically Korean diaspora story. It started with the thought, ‘I want to write a story about
teens selling K-beauty products at school, but I don’t know what else they do yet’ and it just kept on
growing from there. There are definitely many aspects of the book that were inspired from my
personal experiences, particularly around Korean culture and identity. I, however, did not run a
thriving business out of my locker in high school, though how awesome would that have been?
What was the publishing process like? What were the best and worst parts?
It was a journey, for sure. I signed with a literary agent with the first manuscript I wrote (a middle
grade fantasy) after querying for several months. We went out on submission with that project,
meaning we sent it out to editors at publishing houses, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to sell
that one. During this period of being on sub, I started writing a young adult romcom called – you
guess it – Made in Korea. We went on to sell that book and it is now my debut novel!
That’s the condensed version. All of this took place over a few years, so there was a lot of waiting
and wondering in between. That was the hardest part, I would say. That in-between period where
the manuscript is out of your hands and you’re not sure if a door will open or slam in your face.
Between querying agents and editor submissions, I think I’ve gathered close to a hundred rejections.
As for the best part, it was definitely the people I met along the way. Other writers who were going
through the same thing and became my both my support group and my close friends. I really can’t
imagine this whole publishing journey without them. Another great part was seeing myself grow as a
writer. With every project, opportunity, rejection, and word written, I felt like I was getting better as
a writer and a storyteller. I hope that growth never stops.
Have you always wanted to be an author? Why or why not?
Yes! I’ve wanted to be an author ever since I was a kid. I just really loved reading and writing from a
young age, and I couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather do more.
What is your writing process like?
I feel like this changes with each project and sometimes even with each day. But here are a few parts
of my process that have stayed consistent:
I always keep a notebook for every manuscript I write to jot down ideas, character brainstorms, and
any research I do for the project.
I keep track of my daily writing goals with a bullet journal.
Lately, I’ve been using the method of fast and messy first drafts to tell the story to myself, and then
fleshing it out and making it presentable for human eyes other than my own through revisions. I
leave a lot of blanks when I’m drafting (‘come back to this later’ or ‘insert something funny here’)
and focus mostly on getting the skeleton of the story on the page. Once I have that, I can take it
deeper and bring the story closer to what I envision in my head.
If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be? Why?
I would tell my younger self: we did it!! I’m proud of you for dreaming up the life I’m living now.
Were your family and friends supportive of your writing? How did they help you?
Oh, for sure. There are countless ways. From reading early versions of the manuscript and giving me
feedback, brainstorming with me when I was feeling stuck, cheering me on from beginning to end,
and bringing me snacks (that one’s mostly my mom), I’ve been so incredibly fortunate to be
surrounded by such great people. They are my rock.
What was your hardest scene to write? (Without spoilers, of course)
I struggled a bit with the scenes with Valerie and Wes’ parents. I think they were the hardest
characters for me to get to know overall. It took me a few tries to convey them in a way that felt
both honest and fleshed out.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors? What are some resources that you recommend?
Learn to live in the present by taking time to enjoy the process. Goals are important, but once you
reach them, you’ll have a new goal and then another goal after that, and so on. When the goalposts
keep moving, it’s important to slow down and celebrate, be thankful, and just have fun along the
Also, read widely, and keep on writing everything you want to write because nobody can tell your
stories like you.
For resources, I enjoy the Writer’s Block Party blog. They have posts on craft, community, publishing,
and author interviews. I also enjoy the podcast First Draft with Sarah Enni. She has a great series
called Track Changes which is all about how a book goes from your laptop to the bookshelf. And for
querying writers, I would recommend checking out QueryTracker and Manuscript Wishlist!
About the Author
Sarah Suk (pronounced like soup with a K) lives in Vancouver, Canada where she writes stories and admires mountains. When she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the water, taking film photos, or eating a bowl of bingsu. You can visit her on Twitter and Instagram @sarahaelisuk.
Sarah is represented by Linda Eipstein at Emerald City Literary Agency.