Meet Author Ann Y. K. Choi

“We Don’t often Talk about Sensitive Issues!”


Originally from Chung-Ju, South Korea, Ann immigrated to Canada in 1975. She attended the University of Toronto where she studied English, Sociology, and Education. Ann is also a graduate of both the Humber School for Writers and the Creative Writing Certificate Program at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies.

Ann is the 2012 winner of the Marina Nemat Award which recognizes the top manuscript completed by a Creative Writing Certificate graduate at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. She completed her MFA in Creative Writing at National University in San Diego, California. Her debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety, was released on May 3, 2016, by Simon & Schuster Canada. Ann is featured on “13 Canadian Authors Everyone Should Read,” by Bustle magazine.

An Interview with Ann Y. K. Choi

Fabricio Correa (FC): When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?

Ann Y. K. Choi (AYKC): As a teenager and young adult, I struggled with depression. Every mental health professional I worked with encouraged me to write, which I started doing in my early twenties. For a long time, I wrote poems because it was the best way to express myself and to make sense of the world around me. Still, I lacked the confidence to consider becoming a “real” writer – which in my heart I truly wanted. Instead, for many years I worked as an editor and then as an English teacher. It wasn’t until one of my students called me a hypocrite for telling him to follow his dream when I wasn’t doing the same, that I finally committed to writing and publishing a novel.

FC: What writers have influenced you the most?

AYKC: Growing up in the 80s, I devoured anything written by Margaret Atwood, a great Canadian author. I loved that her novel Edible Woman was set in Toronto, Canada where I lived. It left me thinking that I could also write stories here, which was quite empowering. I also liked that Atwood’s female protagonists were complex and that her novels could spark rich discussions around social, political and cultural issues. I’m also a huge fan of short stories. Raymond Carver’s “less is more” writing style really appeals to me. Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club is still one of my favorite novels because it was the first book I read with an Asian protagonist. After reading it, I wanted to tell my own stories.

FC: Tell us about your process when writing a book.

AYKC: I work full-time and have a family so writing used to fall on the bottom of my to-do list. It took five years to write a draft of my first novel. Still, what motivated me to write regularly were the stories I wanted to tell. Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety captures the Korean immigrant struggles that my family and the families I knew growing up faced. I wanted my daughter to know about that. My attitude towards writing changed after signing with a publisher and an agent; it’s now a job with real deadlines and consequences. As a result, my writing has moved near the top of my to-do list. I wish I’d made it more of a priority earlier on.

FC: What connection do you seek to establish with your readers?

AYKC: The only reader I had in mind as I wrote Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety was my daughter, so it has been incredible to meet and talk with people who have read that novel. They often share their personal stories which I find inspiring and immensely gratifying.

I worried that readers might not be able to connect with the novel I’m currently writing as it is set in Korea during the 1920s. Still, after many conversations with writers and readers, I’ve committed to writing the book. I’m hoping my protagonist’s story and the themes the novel explores – family, sacrifice, honor and betrayal – will resonate with readers.

FC: Was it difficult writing about such an emotional theme?

AYKC: Like many first novels, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety is largely based on what I know best – my own life and those around me. I was concerned about how my family would respond and how the Korean community, in general, might react. We don’t often talk about “sensitive” issues like domestic violence, negative mental health, racial tension, and especially our struggles with personal demons. I’m hoping to use the novel to generate discussions with readers and even the students I currently work with. Unfortunately, many of them continue to face the same challenges I did growing up.

The finished novel brought me great feelings of relief as the idea to write the story existed for decades, first as a collection of poems, then a short story, and finally, a book.

FC: Did you attend an MFA Program?

AYKC: Yes, after completing two Creative Writing certificate programs in Toronto, I found myself wanting to delve even deeper into the subject. I chose National University in California to complete my MFA. Receiving constructive feedback and learning how to give meaningful feedback have been critical in my development as a writer. Each of my classes, from a pedagogy course to examining the 18th-century works of Anne Radcliffe, allowed me to look at writing and reading using both a creative and analytical eye. The MFA program also encouraged me to reflect upon my writing which I don’t think everyone does. This led me to experiment and engage more deeply with it.

FC: What projects are you working on at the moment?

AYKC: My second novel is set in 1924 Korea before it became a divided nation. When I found out that my great-great grandfather took a second wife (which was legal back then), my heart sank hearing about how upset my great-great grandmother was by this. I thought it would be interesting to write a revenge story loosely based on her experiences. Because I’m taking many creative liberties, I’m having a lot of fun with it. I’m also fascinated by this time in history as Korea was under Japanese occupation.

FC: Where can other readers find you and get to know more about your work?

AYKC: They can visit my website at or follow me on Twitter @annykchoi.

Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety is available on Amazon.


A bittersweet coming-of-age debut novel set in the Korean community in Toronto in the 1980s.

This haunting coming-of-age story, told through the eyes of a rebellious young girl, vividly captures the struggles of families caught between two cultures in the 1980s. Family secrets, a lost sister, forbidden loves, domestic assaults—Mary discovers as she grows up that life is much more complicated than she had ever imagined. Her secret passion for her English teacher is filled with problems and with the arrival of a promising Korean suitor, Joon-Ho, events escalate in ways that she could never have imagined, catching the entire family in a web of deceit and violence.

A unique and imaginative debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety evocatively portrays the life of a young Korean-Canadian girl who will not give up on her dreams or her family.

Interview conducted by: Fabricio Correa

Fabricio Correa is a Brazilian-born writer and blogger based in Los Angeles. He holds a BA in Law from Universidade Salgado de Oliveira and is currently attending National University’s MFA Creative Writing program.


2017 GNU Submissions Now Open

Creative inspiration

Submit your work and become part of the history of this comprehensive creative journal.

The deadline for submissions for the 2017 GNU is

December 15th, 2016.

Publication will be January 2017.

The GNU seeks to provide an inclusive literary journal with an appreciation of all genres. Traditional literary works, short plays, young adult fiction, poetry, literary fiction, new adult, children’s literature, horror, comedy, western, mystery, historical fiction, memoir, personal essay, short fiction – even comics…you name it, we accept it.

Please limit submissions to five (5) bodies of work in total.

Writers retain all rights to their work.

Visit our submission’s page for more details

NOTE: if submission link is down, please email content to with the subject line: GENRE TYPE_Title_Jan 2017

GNU: Literary Journal. Issue #1. Winter 2016.



There you are! Lovely! We’ve been expecting you. Please—come in, come in.

You can leave your troubles at the door. The news as well. Sure, right there is fine. Shoes are optional. Socks and slippers too. What’s a smelly foot or two between friends? Go ahead—put them up if you like.

Well, we’ve made it to the start of another year. A time for resolutions. A time when we are more likely to remember that any ole’ day can be a brand new start, for our writing practice, our patience, our diet (which could probably use a little more variety, and for me fewer lattes).

As I sat reading all of the pieces submitted for publication, I wondered at the variety, at the fact that even though the experiences conveyed may have been utterly unfamiliar to me, the resulting emotions were not. It reminded me that at our deepest level we have more commonalities than differences. We have the capacity to laugh, to love. To hate. We are, after all, all human.

This publication seeks to celebrate differences, in genres and styles for certain, but hopefully more. As you enjoy this feast of food for the soul, may you nibble on something different. May your heart be nourished. If you are feeling brave, slip into someone else’s shoes, however briefly, and see if the change in perspective alters anything for you. The theory is that it will make us stronger, together more resilient to negativity and hate, which the media chases with the fervor of bodachs in a Dean Koontz novel.

With the greatest of admiration, thank you to all of the writers who were brave enough to bare their souls to strangers by submitting their work. A big thanks and virtual hugs to the readers who neglected significant others, children, pets, and various plant life in the making of this journal. I give a deep curtsy to Frank Montesonti and National University, the proud parents of this journal, who are visionary in their approach of inclusion.

Stay as long as you like, my friend. You are welcome anytime. It is an honor to be the one to greet you at the door.


Diane O’Shea, MFA

Editor in Chief

GNU Submissions

The first digital edition of National University’s GNU literary journal is coming soon! Submit your work and become part of the history of this new comprehensive creative journal.

The deadline for submissions for the 2016 GNU is November 30, 2015. Publication will be January, 2016.

The GNU seeks to provide an inclusive literary journal with an appreciation of all genres. Traditional literary works, short plays, young adult fiction, children’s literature, horror, comedy, western, mystery, historical fiction, memoir, personal essay, short fiction – even comics…you name it, we accept it.

Writers retain all rights to their work.

Please follow these guidelines to ensure your work receives all the consideration it deserves:

  1. Submit text only works as Word or .rtf format; ensure your name is not included in the attachment
  2. Submit comics or other works containing artwork as .png with a width no wider than 600 pixels so that they fit in our pages.
  3. Submit each work as a separate submission
  4. Ensure your work has a title and a genre (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction)
  5. Please limit poetry and comic/artwork submissions to: 5 pieces, not to exceed 10 printed pages
  6. Please limit fiction and creative nonfiction to: 10,000 words (larger works can be submitted but may not be read)
  7. As always, ensure your work has been proofed and polished!

Submissions are now closed. Thank you to all of the writers who sent us their hard work. Please look for the call for submissions for the 2017 edition of GNU Journal in the fall.