Saturday, November 21, 2020

Q&A with Tina Cho


Tina Cho is the author of the new children's picture book The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story. It focuses on the haenyeo divers of Jeju Island in South Korea.


Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Ocean Calls?


A: I saw a Tweet on Twitter about the haenyeo and was intrigued. When I found out they were in South Korea like me, I knew I wanted to write about them.


Q: What kind of research did you do to write the book, and did you learn anything especially surprising?


A: I researched on the Internet reading articles and watching many You Tube videos of haenyeo diving. When that wasn't enough, I flew my family to Jeju Island, at the southern tip of Korea, to see them with my own eyes.

I think the most surprising fact about haenyeo is their age. Most of them are between 50-80 years old, and they dive without any breathing apparatus.


Q: What do you think Jess X. Snow's illustrations add to the story?


A: Jess's illustrations are amazing and bring my characters to life. Her scenes are breathtaking and make me feel like I'm on the island. Her illustrations also add another layer of magical realism to the story, something that wasn't in my text.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: I hope readers take away the idea that they can learn something from their own grandparents or an elderly person and vice versa, that an elderly person would pass down a tradition to the younger generation.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I'm working on two stories, one takes place in a rice field and the other takes place in a beautiful mountainous area of Korea where there are fireflies.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Keep reading and writing. Never give up! Share book love and leave reviews of your favorite books.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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