Q: You were a missionary in Seoul. Has this cross-cultural experience influenced your writing?
Yeah, it has, quite a bit. One of the things you notice is that once you go live in a different culture, it opens your eyes to the different ways people can think, and how varied it is. Learning a new language and being immersed in it really opens your eyes to how language can affect thought and thought process. Beyond that, growing up as a white male American, I never had to be the outsider. Living in a culture where suddenly you are, even though I was a privileged minority, not an underprivileged minority – I don’t know if there is a place you can go in the world where a white male American is an underprivileged minority – but just being a minority changes things. I think my writing grew much stronger. I would suggest to every American, particularly, that this is an experience that would be very good for them. We Americans do tend to be a little bit turned inward. In Europe you have to experience dual cultures and things like that. In the States it’s pretty easy to forget the rest of the world. That’s a criticism that is levelled against the States quite reasonably. Going into another culture, serving the people there and forgetting yourself for a while, is just a wonderful experience. Absolutely wonderful.