Jina Jeon ’23 publishes novel

Jeon+poses+with+her+new+book+Brand+New+World.+Her+book%2C+available+on+Amazon%2C+combines+elements+of+Greek+mythology%2C+tragedy+and+dark+academia.+

Printed with permission of Jina Jeon

Jeon poses with her new book “Brand New World.” Her book, available on Amazon, combines elements of Greek mythology, tragedy and dark academia.

By Zoe Goor and Everett Lakey

Presentation Managing Editor Jina Jeon ’23 published her novel “Brand New World” on Amazon on Nov. 11. The book, inspired by the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, is the first that Jeon has published, but not the first that she has written.

Jeon said advice given to her by other writers helped her form the concept for the book.

“I always heard from other writers that I should write the kind of book that I want to read,” Jeon said. “I’ve always liked Greek mythology, and I also like books where people are trying to expose the secrets of the secret government or something. So I just combined all the stuff that I like reading and other books.”

Upper School Mythology and Latin teacher Bradford Holmes, said that he is pleased that mythology is making its way into students’ writing.

“There’s a reason these stories have survived for in some cases thousands of years,” said Holmes. “The lessons they taught and the purpose they served for the societies from which they come are still valid today. The story patterns and tropes that you see across many different cultures’ myths really haven’t changed much in millennia.”

Jeon said when writing her first draft, she tried to come up with as many ideas as possible and look past any imperfections.

“I usually try to like power through the first draft,” Jeon said. “My goal was to write as many words as I could, every single day until I was done with the first draft. One thing that I learned is to not get caught up in imperfections with the first draft because the goal is to just make it exist first.”

Jeon, who said she is an avid reader, said she is influenced by her favorite authors’ writing styles.

“I think that when people read a bunch of different books, the writing styles of their favorite authors will bleed into their own writing,” Jeon said.”When I read authors that I like, I pick up on ways that they describe characters doing a certain action, or on the way that they paced a certain scene, or the way that they describe a character’s mannerisms. [These] give me a wider variety of lenses that I can take on when I’m describing something.”

Josephine Baiden ’23, who is currently reading Jeon’s novel, said the book is amazing so far.

“The plot is exciting, the pacing is great and her writing is fantastically clever,” Baiden said. “I’ve always known that at this school, I’m constantly surrounded by extraordinary people, but I’ve always imagined authors as kind of mythical figures. To be able to create something that requires such attention to detail is an incredible feat.”

For students who are interested in novel writing, Jeon said she advises they write a first draft before they begin tweaking their work.

“The big thing is to not get caught up in perfectionism,” Jeon said. “I think that’s where a lot of people can get discouraged [because] when they read something that they wrote and they don’t like it, they can feel like giving up. But I think the important thing is that you can’t edit something that doesn’t exist. It can be kind of tough.I know what writing block is like, but just being able to keep your eyes on the goal and not get distracted and not get disappointed and not comparing yourself to other writers [is key].”

Librarian Jessica Wahl said that she is impressed that a student at the school was able to write a novel.

“There are adults out there that want to write a book and keep saying that they’re going to write a book but they don’t, so having someone in high school do it is incredibly inspiring,” said Wahl. “I’ve heard how incredibly stressful it can be getting your edits back and trying to get someone to publish it. It’s a long process, and I know it takes a lot to do it.”

Jeon’s next novel is about a desert criminal rehabilitation center gone awry, and she said she hopes to have it published by a traditional publishing house.

“I want to try more traditional publishing, reaching out to big publishing companies [and] spending more time on the editing process, because I feel like I’m a senior and I’m going to be 18 soon,” Jeon said. “I want to step up my level and be more like a professional author, not to say that using Amazon isn’t professional, but I want to see my stuff in bookstores.”

This story was originally published on The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle on December 15, 2022.