Siel Ju, CA

Critically Acclaimed Writer

Siel Ju grew up on three different continents before earning her PhD in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California. She is the author of a novel-in-stories called Cake Time, winner of the Red Hen Press fiction manuscript award, as well as two poetry chapbooks. A longtime journalist and copywriter, she has written for the Los Angeles Times, Brita, public radio station KPCC, and other media outlets and companies. She lives, writes, and salsa dances in Los Angeles.

As a Story Terrace writer, Siel interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.

An Excerpt from Cake Time

For the date I’d dressed in monochrome, black pants, black heels, black coat, plus a new black and white scarf, hung around my neck in loose coils. As we talked we shared the food gingerly, careful not to clash opinions or forks. He said it must take a lot of discipline to work as a freelance writer, that that kind of self-imposed structure didn’t come naturally to him, which was one reason he’d left grad school. He said this in a way that hinted he had a certain disdain for routine, its lack of passion. I watched him talk. He said he’d read some of my articles, Googled them. He liked one I’d written about a raw juice cleanse I’d done, that what I’d described was exactly how he’d felt on a similar cleanse.

“Those types of articles are just repackaged PR pitches,” I said. “The so-called benefits—they’re really placebo effects.”

I’d meant to be humbly self-deprecating, but my tone came out huffy and caught him off guard. “Well, I agree the stuff about it curing cancer being unlikely,” he said quickly. “But I did feel cleaner afterwards—”

“Starvation will do that to you,” I said. The words were still harsher than I’d wanted, but this time I managed to sound more teasing.

He smiled. “So that’s what that was,” he said. He turned thoughtful, turning over a piece of beet to better pincer it. “The way some people talk about juicing, you realize they’re actually obsessive compulsive, or have an eating disorder. But there’s something about that their obsessiveness that makes me want to get into it, too.”

“I agree,” I said. “The extremeness of it. It gives you a sort of focus.”

“So we have something in common,” he said. “You look very—professional today. Is this how you usually dress? I mean, I like it.” He said that last part quickly, which made it unconvincing.

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