"My cockeyed Valentine to Japan" (3 Questions for Wendy Tokunaga, author of "Love in Translation")

Japan and Japanese culture have been major influences on the life and writing of Wendy Nelson Tokunaga. She signed a two-book deal with St. Martin’s just as she was beginning the MFA in Writing program at the University of San Francisco in 2006. Midori by Moonlight came out the following year with terrific reviews, and Love in Translation hits bookstores next week. From the press kit:
After receiving a puzzling phone call and a box full of mysteries, 33-year-old fledgling singer Celeste Duncan is off to Japan to search for a long, lost relative who could hold the key to the identity of the father she never knew. This overwhelming place where nothing is quite as it seems, leading her to ask: What is the true meaning of family? And what does it mean to discover your own voice?
So I have to start by asking, Wendy, how did you discover your voice as a writer?
I’d always written stories as a child and even published my own magazine (I think I had three subscribers!). When I was a teenager I plunged into songwriting, playing bass guitar and singing in my own bands. I didn’t start writing fiction until I was in my forties, inspired by colleagues at a technical writing job I had who wrote fiction on the side. I decided to take a creative writing night course at a community college and began writing short stories. Over the years that led to a few published stories, then many stabs at novel writing and then finally a two-book publishing deal.

How did you come to this particular story? Or did this story come to you?
This novel is my cockeyed valentine to Japan, a place I have both adored and abhorred over the years and a place that has had a huge impact on my life. Japan and Japanese culture have been my muses. My first novel, Midori by Moonlight, is about a Japanese woman who finds herself in California. Love in Translation is about Celeste, a Californian who finds herself quite unexpectedly in Japan on a search for a long, lost relative who may hold the key to the identity of the father she never knew. The novel is also about the power of music, another force in my life. I met my Japanese husband when I put out an ad for someone to translate my song lyrics into Japanese. Subsequently he ended up helping me record a demo of my songs with me singing in Japanese. In the book when Celeste, a fledgling singer, learns to sing a Japanese song her life changes in ways she never imagined.

Now that you've hit your stride as a novelist, what do you love and hate about the process?
My favorite part of writing is revision and my least favorite is writing new material. I find it excruciating to write a rough draft, just to get the bare bones of the story on paper, no matter how clearly the story may be outlined and in my head. This is when my inner critic is the most vocal and I must fight with her constantly. The most pleasurable part is when I can revise, sculpt, and polish the prose and also experiment with adding elements and cutting others. This is when I read my work aloud, which I find fun and very helpful, in attempting to get the prose sounding just right.

Click here to read Chapter One of Love in Translation. And look for it in bookstores next week. Here's the trailer...


Popular posts from this blog

Harlequin Intrigue vs. Harlequin Romantic Suspense