LAHS student ponders mentors, writing life and starting over

Courtesy of Trinity Suh
Los Altos High School student Trinity Suh’s recently released third novel tells the story of a young woman who goes on a journey of self-discovery.

For Trinity Suh, a rising senior at Los Altos High School, writing is more than a homework assignment or a means to a great college essay.

“I think of it as kind of a personal reflective time. … It gives me personal space,” she said.

Suh’s “In the Dead of Night,” her recently released third book of fiction, tells the story of a high school girl, Absynthe Vida, who goes on a journey of self-discovery. The novel, distributed through the self-publishing imprint XLibris, represents a departure in both product and process for the young writer.

Usually a fan of realistic fiction, Suh challenged herself to incorporate aspects of magical realism – the historically Latin American genre that weaves together gritty reality with supernatural elements – after gaining inspiration from Laura Esquivel’s 1989 classic, “Like Water for Chocolate.”

The process of writing a third novel also tested Suh’s resolve, as she found plotting the book to be a thornier, slower process this time around, taking a year to write. Ultimately, she made the decision to set her work aside, read for fresh inspiration and come back to the draft with new ideas that inspired a major rewrite.

Suh said she doesn’t need external motivation to sit down and write.

“I just have a lot of stories that I want to get down,” she said. “I’ve always been writing stories.”

In addition to her primary editor – her mother, who Suh said has a keen eye for plot – Suh has made connections over the years with a community of writing peers and mentors.

Readers on the online writing community Wattpad read early drafts of Suh’s second novel, “Sunrise,’ and were the ones to encourage her to publish the book. Suh said she also has benefited from meeting older published writers, who can offer perspective on the bigger picture of the industry.

“It definitely kept me going, because I know that it’s really hard to get published,” Suh said. “Hearing their stories has helped me realize that.”

Suh said she’s been satisfied with the self-publishing process, through which, for a fee, the publisher prints copies of a writer’s book, also providing marketing materials, layout and cover design. With her parents’ help, she carefully reviewed different self-publishers to find the best options.

“It’s very exciting (to have) this new finished product, especially when I get to give it to my friends and have them read it and tell me what they think,” she said.

However, she said she does have her eye on someday selling a book to a larger, traditional publisher and distributing her work to a wider audience.

Although she hasn’t had the chance yet, she said, the ambition is there: “There are lots of things that I want to do with my books.”

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