How it came about:
I had not planned to write any of these books.
I enjoy teaching, but teaching on a personal level. If I can’t get to know the students over a long period of time, then I feel it is a waste for both them and me. We need to shape each other.
In this way, I suddenly found I had spare time with one of my long time and favorite students. He already knew how to write well-produced, well-thought arguments for essays and sound book reports. But he had always expressed a desire to write stories. So with this free time, I tried to do something new with him: we’d write together–not in collaboration, but side-by-side (parallel writing, I guess.)
Like any new writer full of ideas, he had no clue what to do. Honestly, neither did I, but I wanted to show him the most important part is to just write. Fixing it would come later. So, to set a good example, I wrote. The only germ of an idea in mind was I wanted to make a Korean superhero, having seen the fanaticism Korean, and, I suspect, all boys have for superheroes of any kind. Mine, however, had to be distinctly Korean.
Having spent years teaching English in Korea, I saw many things unique to the country. One thing that wasn’t was how like many Americans–or any other nationality–we tend to believe our way of life is universal, that our small daily habits are a common shared trait. However, this is not true, but many believe so. For this reason, I took many conversations I’ve had with my students and used them to create the characters in Chewy Noh. Most things in the book are observations to show contrast, not stereotypes–another reason for the series. Although I started out with these reasons in mind, through my research into heavier parts of Korean mythology and history, the aim for the books changed.
Special Thanks to:
All of my students, especially J.J. Byun who helped me through this process and is, sadly, the Chewy to my Clint. My thanks must also include others, like my old students :Sang Ha, Ju Hyun, Steven, In Hwa, Yunnu, Yoo Bin, Yeon Ju, Alice, Claire, Sally; and the young: Sang Eun, Juno, The wonderful little Amy-we miss you-, Alex, Emily, TiTi, Sang Won, Squeakers, Min Young, Han, Willy, Joshua, and many more…