By Leslie Lindsay
A literary courtroom thriller about an immigrant family, a fascinating medical exploration, secrets, lies, and more.
~Weekend Reading | ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~
May IndieNext Pick ♦ April LibraryReads Selection ♦ April Book of the Month Club Pick ♦ Amazon Editors’ Pick ♦ Apple Books 2019 Top Ten Debuts ♦ Time Magazine 11 Best Fiction Books of 2019 So Far ♦ Washington Post Summer Reads ♦ Good Morning America Hot Summer Read ♦Entertainment Weekly April Jewels ♦ ELLE April Reading List ♦ Real Simple The Short List ♦ Southern Living Best Spring Books ♦ July Junior Library Guild Adult Crossover Selection (Grades 11 & Up)
~PAPERBACK EDITION COMING IN APRIL~
MIRACLE CREEK (April 2019) is such a powerhouse of a novel from Angie Kim, I was seriously questioning whether it was truly a debut, it’s that good. In rural Miracle Creek, Virginia, Young and her husband, Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment, hyperbaric chamber known as ‘the miracle submarine.’ It’s a pressurized oxygen chamber patients enter for therapeutic reasons–the ‘dives’ could potentially cure anything from autism to infertility, and a few things in between.
But the chamber mysteriously explodes, killing two people, and injuring several others. The book opens with such a compelling and propulsive line–“My husband asked me to lie.” And thus, we’re thrown into the world of MIRACLE CREEK, where no one and everyone is honest. Secrets are kept, lies are ignored; concealment becomes the standard. I found the writing hugely enjoyable, lush and poetic, snappy, and witty, at times The author does an amazing job of building layers, adding in smart twists, and the courtroom drama is second to none. I mean, wow.
Told from multiple POVs, we ‘dive’ (yes, pun intended) into several character’s experiences, mothers raising special needs children (and the long, exhausting days, the maternal guilt and wishes for a different life), and also an infertile physician, the life of Korean immigrant family, and so much more. I found reading MIRACLE CREEK immensely enjoyable, but also a little exhausting. There are a lot of ‘facts’ to keep straight, courtroom details/banter, and more. And it’s so well done.
Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented Angie Kim to the author interview series.
Angie! Welcome. Gosh, this book! It’s so good. I think for any writer to be successful, she needs to be completely smitten—but also haunted—with her premise. What was it for you that got you to ‘dive’ into the narrative of MIRACLE CREEK?
Thank you so much for featuring me and MIRACLE CREEK, Leslie! They say that you put a lot of yourself into your first book, and that’s definitely the case for me with MIRACLE CREEK. There are three strands of my life that I pulled together into the narrative—the Korean immigrant strand (I myself moved to the US from Seoul, South Korea, as a preteen), the courtroom trial strand (I was a trial lawyer in my 20s), and the special-needs parenting strand (I have three kids who all faced and overcame medical issues as babies/toddlers). As for the one thing that really got me into the narrative, my first line for the longest time was “The pounding. It’s the pounding I remember most.” The pounding sound is that of a little boy with autism and anxiety, pounding his head against the thick steel wall of the hyperbaric oxygen chamber. It’s something I experienced while undergoing HBOT with one of my kids, and that’s the first thing I thought of and wrote. Once I wrote that, I had to write more to explore why he was pounding his head, what the adults were doing, etc.
I’ve read plenty of courtroom dramas (none this good, by the way), and stories featuring medical aspects, mysteries…but I’d have to say MIRACLE CREEK is a first for me in terms of reading about hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). How did this piece come to be? It’s a little obscure, and I think that’s why I like it. Can you tell us more about your personal involvement in it and how the mechanism works?
Thank you so much. HBOT is something I experienced myself. My son was four years old when he was diagnosed with celiac disease and ulcerative colitis. The standard treatments weren’t working, and he was crying that his stomach hurt and throwing up and not gaining weight. So we decided to try an experimental treatment a friend had told me about, involving breathing pure oxygen inside a pressurized chamber. The first time we saw the HBOT chamber, my son said, “It’s a submarine!” We’d watched the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine for family movie night earlier that summer, and it looked just like that, with thick steel walls, four portholes, and such. The idea is that you go inside and are sealed in, and the air inside is pressurized, which makes the air denser. The patients put on these oxygen helmets and breathe in pure oxygen, and the denser oxygen can deeply penetrate the damaged cells of your body, including your nerves, which helps them to heal more quickly.
In some ways, I related to the mothers of the special needs children in this story. My oldest daughter had a severe speech disorder when she was younger and yes—I remember the research, the worries, the therapies, the wish for a different child. Actually, I think the wish was for the speech issue to not plague her. You really ‘got’ these mothers (who were mostly struggling with autism, but also physical handicaps as well). There’s love here, but also struggle. And some of these passages were darn-right hard to read. Were they hard to write? And What—or whom—informed you? Is this a book about special needs?
It’s absolutely a book about the world of parenting children who have special needs and disabilities. As I said earlier, all three of my kids are fine now, but they suffered a wide array from medical issues as young children, so I went through many of these experiences, which are emotionally intense and draining. Your own book about [childhood] apraxia [of speech] really interested me because one of my kids was born deaf in one ear, which resulted in auditory processing issues and speech delays. I’m guessing that our kids did a lot of the same therapies.
I also drew on the experience of being in the HBOT chamber with mothers of kids with autism and cerebral palsy. When we did the dives that summer, because of the presence of pure oxygen and the risk of fire that entailed, we couldn’t bring anything in—no phones, toys, electronics, magazines. That left us with nothing to do but talk. We shared life stories and traded information about the various illnesses our kids were contending with. It was a wholly immersive and intense experience, and it felt like a confessional of sorts. Some of those women became close friends, and some served as early readers for MIRACLE CREEK. It was very hard to write about some of the dark, shameful thoughts that parents (especially mothers) have, but I thought it was important to bring that out, to tell everyone that this is human, that it’s not something we should be ashamed of.
Special needs, infertility, and also race/culture are a big piece of MIRACLE CREEK. Abe (one of the attorneys in the book), is African-American. The infertile doctor and his wife are a biracial couple (she’s Asian and he’s Caucasian). Teresa, one of the HBOT mothers is Latina. And the Yoos are Korean. Were there any particular inspirations behind these choices? Were they really ‘choices’ at all?
It was important to me that the cast of characters be diverse because the DC area is so diverse, and I wanted the book’s fictional world to reflect the real world. These chronic issues and disabilities hit people of all ethnicities, and I wanted that to be clear. I also wanted to attorneys to be totally kick-ass, and to be diverse as well. Nothing against awesome white male litigators (my husband is one!) but I feel like so many litigators we see on TV and in the movies are white men, and I think it’s important to show other types of people in that role. I can’t tell you how many people have reached out to me or said in book club discussions that Shannon (a totally bad-ass trial lawyer) is their favorite character!
I know you’re an attorney by training and so the courtroom stuff probably came very naturally. But you were so good at building layers, developing chain reactions, planting seeds…so I am curious if you knew how MIRACLE CREEK would end? Did you always know who the guilty party was? Can you give us a little glimpse into your process?
I did not know how the novel would end! I am not an outliner; I’m a so-called “pantser” who writes more organically. I did not know for the first year or so of writing who set the fire (the inciting incident), and I didn’t know until almost the end why or how that person set the fire. I believe in an iterative writing process, in which you outline (very broadly) what you think might happen, write a few chapters, then you realize that the outline is completely wrong and revise the outline, then write a few more chapters, then you realize you have to revise the outline yet again, etc., etc.
MIRACLE CREEK is a very obsessive, engrossing read. What’s obsessing you nowadays? It doesn’t have to be literary.
My next novel is about a 10-year-old boy who’s nonverbal (with apraxia [of speech] and possibly autism) who goes on a walk at the beginning of the story with his father (who is the primary caregiver), but later in the day, only the little boy returns home. And because he’s nonverbal, he can’t tell anyone what happened during the walk. So my obsession these days is learning about kids who are nonverbal, and the new communication therapies and technologies nonverbal kids are using to try to communicate. I’m reading every book I can find on this topic!
“Miracle Creek is an engrossing puzzle-box of a book: a twisty courtroom drama that also manages to be emotionally astute, culturally perceptive, and deeply empathetic. Angie Kim tackles hot-button subjects with a delicate touch, proving herself a master of both portraiture and storytelling. I loved this novel.”
―Janelle Brown, author of the New York Times bestseller Watch Me Disappear
Angie, thank you, thank you for taking the time to chat with us today. Is there anything I forgot to ask…like, what’s on your to-do list this week, what you’re reading, when the paperback version of MIRACLE CREEK is set to come out, or anything else?
The paperback version of MIRACLE CREEK comes out on April 7 and I’m about to travel to San Antonio for the AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs) conference, and I’m so excited to meet up with my writer friends! I’m also putting together a book club challenge! I’ve participated (via in-person or video-conferencing) in over 85 book club discussions so far, and my publisher and I are putting together a fun book club challenge in which we’re trying to get at least one book club in every state of the US to join us! Readers can contact me through email or website if they’re interested in having their book club participate!
Artistic image of book covered designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1
For more information, to connect with Angie Kim via social media, or to purchase a copy of MIRACLE CREEK, please visit:
~PAPERBACK EDITION COMING IN APRIL~
You might also like LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng, forthcoming A GOOD NEIGHBORHOOD (Therese Anne Fowler), THE DEARLY BELOVED by Cara Wall, DEFENDING JACOB (Willliam Landay) and also Shari Lapena’s SOMEONE WE KNOW.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Angie Kim is the author of the national bestseller Miracle Creek, named a “Best Book of the Year” by Time, The Washington Post, Kirkus, Real Simple, Library Journal, The Today Show, Amazon, and Hudson Booksellers, and a Good Morning America Hot Summer Read. Kim is one of Variety Magazine’s “10 Storytellers to Watch,” and has written for Vogue, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Salon, and Slate. She moved from Seoul, Korea, to Baltimore as a preteen, and attended Stanford University and Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. A former trial lawyer, she now lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and three sons, and is at work on her next novel.
You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites:
I hope you do!
- Facebook: LeslieLindsayWriter
- Twitter: @LeslieLindsay1
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @LeslieLindsay1
Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead Chapel, Common Ground Review, Cleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The Waking, Brave Voices Literary Magazine, Manifest-Station, and others. Her cover art will be featured on Up the Staircase Quarterly in May 2020, and the 2nd edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA will be available this spring. Leslie has been awarded one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.
~2nd EDITION OF SPEAKING OF APRAXIA COMING SPRING 2020~
LOVE IT? SHARE IT!
#literaryfiction #medicalmystery #HBOT #courtroomdrama #writing #alwayswithabook #autism #specialneeds #mothers #infertility
[Cover and author image retrieved from author’s website. Author photo cred: Tim Coburn. Artistic image of book covered designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1]