Born and raised in Surrey,B.C., Michelle Kim didn’t envision herself writing a book when she was pursuing a career in film. Unable to ignore the little scenes she kept scribbling in notebooks, she finally sat down and took the time to write her first fiction novel, Running Through Sprinklers.
Kim, who took inspiration from her film career, used the classic screenplay structure to create her novel. As she wove the acts of Sara and Nadine together, she vividly paints a picture of classic suburbia. Set in the 1990s, complete with tear-away-pants and no cell phones or Internet, the reader is transported to a simpler time. Teens connect with it and adults remember it. Published on April 17, 2018, Kim is still relishing in the glow of the release and positive reviews.
Importance of female friendships
Kim describes the book as a coming of age novel about girlhood, concentrating on the intense friendships that girls build and lose during adolescence. As two best friends grow and cycle through big life changes, so does their friendship. Top it off with the boy next door going missing, and Kim’s debut novel has a little bit of something for everyone. Set in the suburbs of Surrey, any local reader will appreciate the familiar names and landmarks. Inspired by her own friendships and experiences, Kim wrote the novel to honour and focus on the friendship between two girls.
“I wrote a book to honour female friendships in general. How important they are,” she says.
After a particularly hard breakup, Kim found herself sitting at a deli near a group of older women. The women spoke about how their husbands had passed and how great it was that they were able to support each other during those tough life experiences. She quickly realized, that at the end of your life, all you have are your girlfriends. Kim wanted to write something that explored that notion.
“Society spends so much time thinking about romantic relationships, but maybe a lot of true love is in friendship. Female friendship is the backbone of a woman’s emotional and psychological health,” she says.
Write what you know
One of the many nods to Surrey includes the character’s background. Kim’s leading ladies, Sara and Nadine, come from mixed race families. A similar upbringing to Kim herself − she is half Korean − in multicultural Surrey, who says she wrote what she knew.
Kim believes that, “We need more diverse stories, just to reflect the diversity of Vancouver and its surrounding areas.”
Kim reminisces how her generation was one of the last groups before technology invaded the lives of children. This novel captures that innocence of that last generation. She did not aim to write a love story to those simpler times, but realized she had, after finishing the book.
“So when the last summer came to an end, just before my final year of elementary school, my twelfth year in this world, not even the perfect roundness of the cul-de-sac could help me.” – an excerpt from Running Through Sprinklers
Kim hopes her novel will encourage young readers to reflect on friendships and their importance. Life changes, people will move in and out of your life. She wants women to be strong on their own, and build a relationship with themselves before they connect with others. Then, they can work on the importance of female friendships.
“I hope my teen readers will read this and think about their friends and the importance of female relationships. I hope my adult readers will be transported back in time… to their childhood when life was simpler,” she says.
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