White Chrysanthemum, the powerful and moving debut novel by Mary Lynn Bracht, is out now from Penguin Random House South Africa.
In the book, the heartbreaking history of Korea is brought to life, as the story follows two sisters separated by World War II.
Hana and her little sister Emi are part of an island community of haenyeo, women who make their living from diving deep into the sea off the southernmost tip of Korea. One day Hana sees a Japanese soldier heading for where Emi is guarding the day’s catch on the beach. Her mother has told her again and again never to be caught alone with one. Terrified for her sister, Hana swims as hard as she can for the shore.
In an interview with Penguin Random House, Bracht chats about her writing process, and what writers inspired her work:
What writers have inspired or influenced your work?
The writers who most influenced me as I wrote my novel are Toni Morrison, Kyung-Sook Shin, Annie Proulx, Muriel Barbery, Marilynne Robinson, Maya Angelou, Michael Ondaatje, George Orwell, Helen Dunmore, Kimiko Hahn, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I either read them before I began writing, after completing a draft, or during the editing phase.
Reading after each ‘stage’ of the book-writing process kept me sane, as well as helped me to ‘see’ where I wanted my book to go and also how to get there. Anytime I’m stuck, I pick up a book and read.
I recently finished a book by Claudia Rankine, and the moment I finished it, I began writing my next novel. Good writing inspires creativity. If you want to be a writer, read everything!