The Escape to Candyland by Yong Takahashi

by | Dec 19, 2020 | Author | 0 comments

I appreciate the Author’s Lounge for allowing me to share my work with their readers.

Even though we all interact with people from all walks of life, we often compartmentalize our day. When it gets dark, we get into our cars and go back to our part of town. We shop in our own neighborhoods. We send our children to schools just down the street from our homes. We think our lives don’t intersect with strangers unless we choose it. We might think about the woman who runs the diner in our office building or the gas station attendant who sold us a lottery ticket but we don’t think about how a brief experience can affect us.

I often wondered what people’s lives were really like underneath all the polite smiles. What were they doing right before they made your chicken sandwich or filed your taxes? I’ve always lived in two worlds (American and Korean) so I’ve learned to become a keen observer of human nature.

This led to me write my short story collection. In The Escape to Candyland, the immigrants, preacher’s wives, strippers, and shopkeepers who pass each other on the street all have a secret story to tell. Caught between generations of family, regrets from their pasts, conflicting cultures, and even countries, each character has a reason to fiercely guard their secret lives, even as they learn that the truth must escape. The characters chase their American dreams down back alleys and campaign trails, stumbling under the weight of the gifts their families have given them. A box of Boraxo hand soap. Change for the vending machine. A stranger’s driver’s license. A mother’s love. The smallest exchange could change a life.

I have always enjoyed writing but never thought it could be a profession. My freshman English professor entered my short story in a contest. He posted a copy of it on the bulletin board but I didn’t think much about it. As a good Asian child, I became an accountant and real estate professional. In my spare time, I scribbled story ideas in journals. Eventually, I compiled them into a manuscript. A couple of years ago, I entered it in a contest. Even though I didn’t win, the publisher offered a contract.

My target audience is for anyone interested in the human condition. The stories are about people just living their lives. Their conditions are not romanticized. We are merely observers of their joy and sorrows. The characters attempt to overcome obstacles, face their personal demons, or receive their comeuppance. Some learn their lessons. Some don’t. But none can be pigeon-holed into the category of sinner or saint. 

The Escape to Candyland is my debut book. I have been pleased with the warm reception it has received on Amazon and GoodReads. I would love for it to be made into a movie.


I am a first generation Korean-American. I grew up in Detroit but I’ve lived most of my adult life in Atlanta. This mash-up of cultures finds its way into my stories. I was a finalist in The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, Southern Fried Karma Novel Contest, Gemini Magazine Short Story Contest, and Georgia Writers Association Flash Fiction Contest. It was an honor to be awarded Best Pitch at the Atlanta Writers Club Conference.

I hope to release another short story collection sometime next year. Currently, I am writing a trilogy about a seventh century female shaman who is trying to outrun her murderous brother and a curse she set in motion. I hope to find a home for it soon.

To purchase The Escape to Candyland:

To learn more about Yong, visit:

All social media @yctwriter


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