Last month, we announced our Writers Mastermind Short Story Contest winners. In this series, I interview each of them to discover the soul behind their story.

Today we talk to Yong Takahashi, author of The Elements. You’ll learn about her struggles as a Korean immigrant and how she writes all her drafts in longhand on pink legal pads.

Meet Yong Takahashi – The Elements (FINALIST)

Yong Takahashi is the author of Observations Through Yellow Glasses: A Memoir Through Poems, Rising, Sometimes We Fall, and The Escape to Candyland. She was a finalist in The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, Southern Fried Karma Novel Contest, Gemini Magazine Short Story Contest, The Writers’ Mastermind Short Story Contest, and The Sexton Prize for Poetry.

Yong’s YA novel, Camp Detroit, will be published in 2023. To learn more about Yong, visit:


Yong Takahashi moved to The United States with her parents when she was three years old. She grew up in a traditional household where her Korean and American worlds pulled her in opposite directions. Shortlisted for The Sexton Prize for Poetry, OBSERVATIONS THROUGH YELLOW GLASSES invites you to follow her journey as she learns life’s bitter lessons, longs for love, and attempts to heal the wounds she collects along the way.



11 Questions with Yong Takahashi

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where are you now? What has your life been like?

I was born in Seoul, South Korea and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. Currently, I live in Atlanta, Georgia. I was the only Asian student in a newly desegregated school. The white students lived on one side of the highway and the black students lived on the other. I remember the landlord telling my parents we could choose which side because we were yellow. Trying to fit in was difficult and a lot of the pain in my writing comes from surviving childhood. Some of my experiences are in my memoir, Observations Through Yellow Glasses: A Memoir Through Poems.

2. What kind of stories do you like to write? I write poetry, songs, short stories, and novels.

I tend to lean towards darker storytelling. Many of my protagonists don’t have happy endings or struggle to find them. I find this is more realistic as life is not wrapped up in a bow.

3. What sets you apart from other writers in your space?

I blend my Korean and American experiences into my work. It tends to be a tightrope walk between the two cultures.

4. What drives your writing? What do you mean to accomplish with your stories?

I want the reader to see a perspective other than their own. I want them to say: Could that really happen? Well, maybe it could. Let me read it again.

5. Who are you favorite writers and books? What are your other creative influences?

My favorite book is The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. It is the only book I’ve read more than twice. The Inspector Gamache books by Louise Penny are the only ones I wait for each year. I don’t really read mystery but her words are just magical. 

6. Tell us about your writing space. When and where do you write? Do you work in silence? Or music?

I usually listen to music while I make my to do lists and drink coffee. Then, I start writing or editing. It needs to be completely silent for my editing or writing sessions. If I’m at a coffee shop, I wear noise cancellation headphones. Prior to the pandemic, I wrote at Starbucks for three to five hours a day. Then, I’d come home to type my notes. Now, I write in my backyard or in bed.

7. What is your favorite thing to do when you are not writing?

I binge watch all my recorded shows. I just finished the 23rd season of Law & Order: SVU. I’m on season eight of the original Law & Order.

8. Who is your current artistic muse?

I study songwriters. I also watch cover artists on YouTube before my writing sessions.

9. Why do you think it’s important to write fiction?

I think every form of writing is important: poetry, fiction, nonfiction. However, fiction allows me to create worlds I could never live in. It lets me insert myself into situations that would never happen in real life.

10. Who would be the best writer, alive or dead, to tell the story of your life?

I absolutely love Louise Penny’s way of drawing the reader into her stories. It would be an honor if she’d write about me or just join me for coffee.

11. What are you working on right now?

I’m editing a YA novel. I hope to complete it next month. It will be published in 2023.

Link is here:

Hopefully, I’ll complete the first book in a fantasy trilogy by December. I write everything long hand on pink legal pads so it takes a while.


Thanks to Yong Takahashi for letting us into her world. Look forward to interviews with other winners in the coming weeks.

Yong’s Website and Social links.

Read Yong’s prizewinning story.

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