Jen Frederick: On the Power of Found Family
Jen Frederick is a Korean adoptee living in the Midwest with her husband, daughter, and rambunctious dog. Under the pseudonym Erin Watt, Frederick has co-written two number one New York Times bestselling novels. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
In this post, Jen discusses how she represented the adoptee experience in her new romance novel, Seoulmates, her advice for other writers, and more!
Name: Jen Frederick
Literary agent: Steven Axelrod
Book title: Seoulmates
Publisher: Berkley Jove
Release date: January 25, 2022
Genre/category: Romance/General Fiction
Previous titles: Last Hit; Last Breath; Last Kiss; Last Hope; Heart & Seoul
Elevator pitch for the book: Korean adoptee travels to Seoul to find her family and loses her heart instead.
What prompted you to write this book?
My own experience as a Korean adoptee and my love for Korean dramas.
How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?
I started soft pitching this book in 2017, wrote a rough draft of the first book in 2018, and finalized a different one in 2019. The core idea of a Korean adoptee and the forbidden romance with the stepbrother remained the same, but the conflict ended up being different the more I researched and read, and the deeper I dived into Hara, the heroine’s, psyche. The notion of found family became more important as the story progressed and the characters around Hara took shape.
Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?
Rewriting is essential to my process. I often end up with a totally different story at the end than what I envision when I sit down to write the book. Both Heart & Seoul and Seoulmates went through significant transformations during the editing process. The emotional journey for Hara didn’t completely make sense to me until I’d written the ending. Once that was completed, I was able to go back through the book and correct the emotional arc.
Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?
I don’t think there were so many surprises. I had many worries while I wrote it that I’d offend other adoptees, as I know the adoption story is very different for individuals. The great reward after publication was hearing from adoptees that they felt seen. I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity to have written these two books so that I could hear that from others.
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
That family is created by love, not blood.
If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?
Don’t write from a place of fear. I often feel my worst writing is when I listen to the inner voices of criticism. That isn’t to say that critique isn’t a valuable part of the process. It is vital and I appreciate and value my editor greatly, but if you’re worrying about what other people think while you’re writing, it can serve as a terrible block. Try to push out the voices and concentrate on your own. You can always edit at the end.