A literary journey that started on the streets

Mun talks easily, but she doesn't like to overtalk what she's writing, just as she doesn't like to talk too much about her past, even though she uses nuggets of it in her fiction.

Once a week, she works the phones at the National Runaway Switchboard on Lincoln Avenue, and the calls shrink her own worries into perspective.

"I leave that shift thinking, oh that's right, I'm not running away from my pimp. I'm not sleeping in the Greyhound station and trying not to get raped while waiting for the bus."

Before she turned to writing in her 30s, Mun cobbled life together with less romantic jobs.

She was once an Avon lady. So, I asked, what makeup does she use now?

"Anything on sale at the pharmacy."

She was once a waitress. What's her favorite Chicago restaurant?

"Sunshine Cafe on Clark Street. It's homestyle Japanese cooking."

She worked as a bartender. Her favorite Chicago bar?

"The Violet Hour. It's a quasi speak-easy."

She worked as a criminal defense investigator. What Chicago crime has fascinated her most?

"It's tied into my next book so I'd rather not say."

Even though she just received one of the best Chicago awards any writer can, Mun doesn't think she qualifies quite yet as a "Chicago writer."

"I understand it's something I have to earn."

mschmich@tribune.com

CHICAGO

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