At Cambridge Common Writers, we are immensely proud of our community members. In response to the recent increase in violence and hate speech directed towards Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, we want to highlight the accomplishments of our Asian American and Pacific Islander alums. Our Spotlight series continues in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month — come get to know these very talented alums and learn about their writing lives.
AXIE OH — WFYP, JUNE ’17
Axie Oh is a first generation Korean American, born in NYC and raised in New Jersey. She studied Korean history and creative writing as an undergrad at the University of California – San Diego and holds an MFA from Lesley University in Writing for Young People. Her passions include K-pop, anime, stationery supplies, and milk tea.
Why do you write and what do you like to write about the most?
I write because I love to read and the stories I want to read haven’t been written yet! What I like to write the most are stories that connect to me personally, whether that’s because I’m writing about my cultural identity or writing about something I love (i.e. K-pop in my most recent novel, XOXO).
Do you have any writing routines or traditions to help inspire creativity?
I light candles and I go on Pinterest!
What is one book you wish you had written?
The joke answer would be a NYT Bestseller that gets a theme park built after it! But truly, there isn’t any book I wish I had written because I feel like books are very personal to the author and their specific viewpoint. I’m not Jane Austen, an Englishwoman living in the 18th century. I’m a Korean American woman living in the 21st century with my own unique perspective.
What is something that tends to get in the way of your writing and how do you overcome it?
Making comparisons to other authors whose careers I aspire toward or envy. This usually occurs from too much time spent on social media, so limiting use of social media when I’m in that negative headspace is critical to overcoming those types of thoughts.
Which parts of the Lesley MFA program do you miss, now that you’re writing on your own time?
I miss the community aspect of the Lesley MFA program. I miss meeting with other writers and discussing our work, but also our lives and aspirations! I keep in touch with friends from my cohort, but it’s not the same as when we were in Cambridge together, discussing books over coffee and drinks!
If you could get coffee with any writer (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
Hayao Miyazaki. I’m such a fan of his films. My novel, THE GIRL WHO FELL BENEATH THE SEA, which I worked on at Lesley, is directly influenced by his film Spirited Away.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that doesn’t have to do with writing.
I played the harp in my high school orchestra!
What are you working on now?
I just finished first pass pages for THE GIRL WHO FELL BENEATH THE SEA, my YA Fantasy out with Feiwel and Friends next year. My YA romcom, XOXO, comes out with Harper Teen on July 13, 2021!
Listen to Axie read an excerpt from her upcoming YA book, XOXO.
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