AN-YA PROJECT: CONTRIBUTORS UP-FRONT
Where were you born? Where do you live now?
I was born in Daejeon, South Korea and adopted at ten months. I now live in Fresno, California.
How and why did you become involved with the AN-YA Project?
Diane wrote me a very kind invitation letter. I was busy with many projects and was hesitant at first because I am wary of how adoption narratives are sometimes constructed, especially when non-adoptees shape the construction. I respect this book, though--its mission, its editor, and its contributing authors. Diane was also patient with me. It is a pleasure to be involved with such a dynamic range of writers who “get” adoption and all of its complexities.
Tell us about a personal accomplishment that brought you deep satisfaction.
Being a father brings me a nearly indescribable satisfaction. I don’t know if it is an accomplishment, but my daughter is a source of profound joy.
Imagine you are sitting on your childhood bed. Look around your bedroom. What do you see?
I see Chewbacca. I see Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. Star Wars posters and stickers are all over the door. There are other posters of athletes from the 1970s: Reggie Jackson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Pelé. There is also a football and soccer ball, and much to my parents’ chagrin, shirts and socks tossed into one corner.
Favorite book(s) when you were a child?
At a young age, I loved the Peanuts. A dog with aspirations to fly and write a novel? Loved it. I also liked comic books, Batman and stories about heroes. When I was a little older, at nine years old, my grandmother got me a subscription to Sports Illustrated. I’ve read every issue since 1979.
Do you have any pets or a special memory of a childhood pet?
I had two dogs, Maya and Joplin, who passed away last year after eighteen years of chasing squirrels, eating, and napping. I grew up with pets: birds, hamsters, but mainly dogs. Our first family dog, Bambi, was a scruffy little blonde mixture who rode low to the ground. One memory I recall is the time we drove back from the beach house south of Santa Barbara, where Bambi had picked up all sorts of fleas. I was about eight. On the five hour drive home, my sister and I picked fleas out of Bambi’s fur and dropped them out of the window and onto the freeway. Our parents were sort of repulsed. Bambi loved it.
Do you have any hobbies outside of your career?
I love live music, live sporting events, live stand-up comedy and good films, travel and discovering new restaurants, and spending time with family and friends. I enjoy being near or in bodies of water.
What things do you not like to do?
I don’t like to argue or support businesses with discriminatory environments.
Was there a teacher, for better or worse, who influenced your life’s path?
There were many. In grade school, Mr. Dieu; in middle school, Mrs. Hennings; in high school, Nancy Barr; in college, Paul Neumann, Dan Onorato, Sherie Coelho, Doug Taylor, and Mark Thompson all influenced me. They were supportive and inspirational. Good teaching is an art. They were artists.
It would be table full of Asian food---kimchi chigae, chapjae, pho, pork and shrimp spring rolls, dumplings, sticky rice and green vegetables. It would be near the ocean. At the table---my daughter, my wife, and all of our family.
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading Carolyn Forche’s The Angel of History, Kim Young-Ha’s Black Flower, and the new books of poems by Tina Chang, Nathalie Handal, and Tim Z. Hernandez.
My favorite documentary with this narrative is First Person Plural by Deann Borshay Liem, and one of my favorite feature films is Brand New Life.
What projects are you working on now?
I am working on a third book. Mostly I am trying to read a lot this summer, but I hope to generate poems or prose about music and salvation. I am lining up readings for the next year and looking forward to meeting more writers, parents, students, and readers.
Anything else you would like to share with readers?
My gratitude for this interview, my good wishes for your health and joy, and my encouragement and love for all the adoptees who may read this.
Visit Lee at his website: www.leeherrick.com
This interview is part of our on-going interview series AN-YA PROJECT: CONTRIBUTORS UP-FRONT)