Feeling a little stressed or overwhelmed? The holidays will do that, won't they? Myself, I'm not doing much shopping or any traveling, so I'm not feeling really stressed. I am feeling a little...sad though. This time of year can be hard when you've had losses. I know I'm thinking of my mom, my grandfather, my Uncle Charles (who passed away this fall), and my cat Hazel who died 2 weeks ago. I'm also thinking of friendships that seems frayed right now.
And after Season 3 of "The Wire" (I'm behind, I know) just about sent me to bed for a week (talk about frayed friendships!) and "Everybody's Fine" made me cry all weekend, I don't want any more serious or sad fiction for a while.
As always, one of my girlfriends to the rescue! This time it's Wendy Nelson Tokunaga. Her second novel Love in Translation is out and it looks like just the kind of fun, light-hearted read I could use right now.
About the Book:
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 changes Celeste in ways she never expected, leading her to ask: What is the true meaning of family? And what does it mean to discover your own voice?
My Q&A with Wendy (she gives inspiration to aspiring authors!):
Q: What inspired Love in Translation?
A: Many things. LOVE IN TRANSLATION is my cockeyed valentine to Japan, which is a place I’ve both loved and loathed, a place that has fueled both fascination and frustration. And it is also a place that has had a huge impact on my life and writing. I also wanted to explore what it means to be a gaijin (foreigner) in Japan and the benefits and downsides of that status and what happens when a gaijin sings in Japanese. I also am fascinated by the concept of the homestay, (something I never experienced), and how that would impact someone as an adult who grew up in foster homes and who never experienced a real family.
A: I’d be singing. Before I started writing fiction I wrote songs, sang lead and played bass guitar in my own bands. Later on I got into singing Japanese karaoke. And further down the road I took voice lessons from a great Japanese jazz singer. I learned so much from her and was able to take my singing to a whole new level. I began to sing jazz standards with my husband accompanying me on keyboards. We play low-key venues once in a while but usually we just practice for fun at home.
Q: Who do you picture in your mind when you write?
A: I guess I picture the character, but not usually in a specific physical sense. I imagine his or her persona in some tangible way, which acts as a reference point to keep me going.
Q: What's been your biggest surprise about getting published?
A: I don’t know if it would be categorized as a surprise, but I think that something completely unexpected has been the experience of getting published at a time when everyone and their dog is predicting the imminent death of the book and the publishing industry as we know it. I find myself half the time scoffing at such news and the other half worrying about it.
Q: Is writing your main job? If not, what do you do for your real source of income and how does it impact your writing?
A: Writing is my main job, but I also do manuscript consulting to help novelists and memoirists get their books in shape to send out to agents or to help revise them when they’ve received nothing but rejections. This dovetails nicely with my own writing and I really enjoy reading other writers’ works and helping them make their stories the best that they can be.
Q: If you could ask any author (living or dead) any question what would it be?
A: I’d love to ask Mark Twain if he could meet me for dinner and share a good bottle of wine so I could soak up all his wit and knowledge. And I have read that he was quite the cat lover so I think that would make it even more fun.
Q: What's the main thing you hope people take away from Love in Translation?
A: That opening up to new experiences and even different cultures can enhance your life and make you discover things you never knew about yourself.
Q: Art or entertainment? Is one more valid or important than the other?
A: Both can be equally important. But definitions of “art” and “entertainment” are so subjective. I guess as writers we hope that our works fit into a nice combination of the two.