Fact and Fiction


I swear, I made my stuff up.

For those of you who have read the rough chapters of Gyeosunim, the sequel to Songsaengnim: A Korea Diary, you are well-familiar with Roland and have recently met his new friend, Russell.

Not much has been written yet on Roland's co-worker, but (without spoiling anything) Russell will be a major character in my new book.

The friendship of Roland and Russell is not unique, I have found. On one of my self-Googling exercises, where I perform a search for my name, for Roland Axam, and for other topics and parts of my writing, I also added a new keyword: Russell.

And with Roland, I came across an interesting site: Roland + Russell.


This site has been created by... wait for it... Roland and Russell, who are located in Burlington, Ontario. Coincidentally, they're focused on beer, wine, and spirits, much like Roland Axam. Only they deal in the acquisition and selling of these beers, wines, and spirits in Ontario, in compliance with LCBO regulations.

My Roland would be fast friends with these lads. They even spell whisky the right way (as Roland says).

But just to prove that I haven't stolen any names, I have proof positive that Roland has been around for many, many years (it's been almost 30 since I created him; more than 10 years since I started fleshing out the book with him as the main character, and more than three years of blog posts of the rough chapter of Songsaengnim).

Russell, who has only been around as a character in my sequel for a couple of months, is based on a real person, who I've known since March 1998: my good friend, Russ, who taught with me at Jeonju University. We were Russ and Ross—Korean students pronounced our names the same way until we told them to remove the R from our names, to call us "us" and "oss."

How long have you been around, Roland + Russell? Since 2004? Does your partnership predate my Roland? Does it predate my friendship with the real Russ?

I didn't think so.

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