Upon graduating from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, R. P. Rioux spent two decades working in the Hollywood entertainment industry, rubbing shoulders with struggling dreamers and successful achievers alike. A year spent abroad circumnavigating the globe ignited an admiration of the world's varied cultures, and taught that regardless of where we live, our commonalities far outweigh our differences.
Now married and living in Cascadia, Swimming Through the Dawn marks R. P. Rioux's literary debut. The author is a lifelong admirer of pop music girl groups and believes the form has been perfected in Korea. It's also become clear that nothing has the power to unite, inspire, and heal quite like music does.
Heather Moon is an 18-year-old Korean American who was born in Los Angeles to Korean parents. At age 15, when her family returned to live in Seoul, Heather joined the idol trainee program at 37-G Entertainment. She soon established her credentials as a top-tier singer and was favored to be named to a long-rumored new girl group.
Known for her vibrant and charming personality, she can easily light up a room with her presence, yet internally, often struggles with self-doubt and bouts of depression. She has a powerful voice despite her diminutive stature at no more than five-feet tall. By styling her hair into an inverted platinum blonde bob she established an iconic image for herself.
Heather believes in fostering teamwork, a value that has served her well on many occasions. She struggles to communicate with her father, who neither trusts nor understands her.
Steven Shepard is a white, 21-year-old student filmmaker at St. Ignatius University. Originally from Mesa, Arizona, he moved to Los Angeles to attend film school with his girlfriend Casey, who studies mathematics. A self-confessed film nerd, he often sprinkles his conversations with arcane movie references, most of which go right over peoples' heads.
At heart an introvert, he was dragged kicking and screaming out of his shell by Phil Daniels, a Type A personality. The two became friends in high school and decided to attend the same college to produce music together. Most of Steve's friends and acquaintances came through associating with Phil. Steve is an appreciator of beauty, a quality which is often misunderstood by his guy friends.
Grace So is an 18-year-old Korean American born in Los Angeles. With her parents' blessing, she moved to Seoul to explore the possibility of becoming a K-Pop star. On her first day of training at 37-G Entertainment, she meets Heather Moon, a follow American, and they become fast friends.
Grace herself is a talented rapper, but she is awestruck by Heather's raw star quality. She feels destined to bolster her friend's sometimes shaky confidence. A natural born leader, Grace can often come across as bossy and demanding, but she means well. Standing at 5'1", she has a personality which is often described as "fierce" though she doesn't know whether to take that as a compliment or not.
Mindy Ito is the 22-year-old daughter of a half Japanese/half Korean father, and a Ukrainian-American mother. As a former member of the disbanded pop rock group WeR5, Mindy has a sour opinion of the K-Pop industry. Seeking to put the experience behind her, she retreats to Los Angeles to forge a new life as a normie. Before long, her past is exposed and she is talked into joining an indie K-Pop group as a drummer. Skeptical that the endeavor will succeed, she nonetheless joins, thinking that her experience might help the group avoid the inevitable industry pitfalls.
Mindy is 5'8" tall with an hourglass figure. She insists that she's merely cute, but her friends, especially guys, tell her she's drop-dead sexy. Her bitter experiences have left her jaded, but she has a good heart despite being somewhat temperamental.
Ahn Sun-hee is an 18-year-old Korean female. After being cut from her idol training program in Seoul, she opts to study music at UCLA. Sun-hee is a Jill-of-all-trades, good at everything she tries, but typically overshadowed by more attention-grabbing specialists. Her main talent is singing, though she also plays piano. Her sweet voice contrasts beautifully with Heather's power vocals.
Sun-hee is viewed as the most feminine member of the group, and always places a great emphasis on her appearance, even for mundane activities. She is soft-spoken and aims to resolve conflict in the least antagonistic way possible. Though they are never sure why, Sun-hee's friends always seem to notice good things happening in her presence. They consider her a good luck charm, but Sun-hee knows better.
Erin MacLeay is an 18-year-old Korean American who hails from the tiny flyspeck of a town called Harper, Oklahoma. Born in Korea, she was adopted as a baby by a white Scottish-American couple. As the only Asian in her community, she struggled for acceptance. After initially rejecting her background to better fit within the prevailing culture, as she grew older she became fascinated by all things Korean. When college called, she chose St. Ignatius in Los Angeles as it would place her near the epicenter of Korean life in America. Her sheltered upbringing seriously underprepared her for the variety of experiences she has encountered since making the big city move.
Erin is petite, and often mistaken as looking younger than she is, a fact that bothers her immensely. She knows she comes across as innocent and naïve, but is hesitant to charge headlong into unfamiliar territory. Erin expresses her frustrations by whining a lot. Despite this she has an extremely likable personality. Most people call her adorable. Erin plays bass well, but lacks experience in pretty much every other field.
Vanessa Nguyen is a 19-year-old Vietnamese American dance student from Garden Grove, California. Born in Vũng Tàu, Vietnam, she moved to the U.S. as a baby with her mother and sisters. Excellence in dance has earned her a full scholarship to St. Ignatius, a fact of which she is proud. Vanessa has finely shaped physique which is powerful without appearing muscular. She has iconoclastic tendencies when it comes to style and fashion, and rarely lets the opinions of others bother her.
While she takes her field of study very seriously, she is often seen as immature. Though she shows some leadership qualities, her impulsiveness often leads her and others astray. You will know what Vanessa is thinking, because she will always straight up tell you the unvarnished truth, even if it hurts. Vanessa is a protector at heart, but could benefit from enhanced diplomacy skills.
June Kwan, also known as Kwan Jeong, is a 19-year-old refugee newly arrived in America with her aunt Ye-jin. She has big ambitions to become a model and the physical beauty and drive to succeed. Necessity demands that she work hard at multiple jobs to make ends meet on meager wages. June hides her past as a shameful secret and is anxious to learn English so that she can better fit into her new life. She sings and dances well, but can be overly obsessed with presenting herself in exactly the right way. The struggles she has endured in her young life have prepared her well to meet any challenge. She always finds a way to move forward despite the obstacles.