Thursday, February 14, 2008

Midori by Moonlight by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga

A long time ago, Wendy Nelson Tokunaga and I were email buddies. I read a chapter of one of her books and there was no doubt in my mind that this talented writer would one day be published. We were both working on our stories and looking for agents and we lost touch. So imagine how excited I was when Wendy emailed me to say that her novel, Midori By Moonlight was coming out!

Midori By Moonlight is a thoughtful, fun story about Midori, a young Japanese woman who comes to the United States with her American fiancee, only to have him break up with her before the wedding! This sets in motion the call to adventure for Midori who is determined not to go back to Japan. Midori must navigate through the cultural maze and figure out how to succeed on her own. You will devour this book as quickly as Midori eats the sweet treats she loves to bake!

Wendy- there are so many aspiring writers out there. What is the best piece of advice you can give to someone who wants to see their book published?

Keep improving your craft by reading and studying other authors, and find trusted readers who know what they’re talking about who can give you the best possible feedback on your work.

Tell me about your search for an agent. Its like finding a needle in a haystack while blindfolded with your hands tied behind your back. At least, that's been my experience!

MIDORI BY MOONLIGHT is the fifth novel I’ve written, but the first to get published (unless you count my self-pubbed novel, NO KIDDING, which came out in 2000). After hundreds and hundreds of rejections I managed to find an agent for my third novel, but he couldn’t sell it. Couldn’t sell the fourth either. He ended up rejecting me. I was still rejected by a number of agents for MIDORI before signing with my wonderful current agent Marly Rusoff. Finding an agent for a non-fiction project is hard enough, but for fiction these days it is even more difficult. This is a tough business and you have to have a tough skin to survive. Not recommended for the faint of heart. :-)

Clearly you love the Japanese culture, what is so intriguing to you about it?

Early on I was struck by the beauty of the Japanese language and how different it is from English (completely different word order, a writing system that is pictographic and virtually unpronounceable). I like how the culture is built into the language and vice-versa and how different language is used for different situations and people, such as levels of politeness. There is a politeness code that is generally adhered to that is very fascinating to me.

Are you a fan of Midori liquer? I'm not such a fan of melon flavor but I dig the green.

I have never had Midori liquer. I did name the character Midori because, yes, it does mean green and she is a bit naive and “green,” if you know what I mean. :-)

Has the writers strike affected you?

No, but I think what they’re striking for is very important.

What do you want to be doing in ten years from right now?

Continuing to write books.

What's the last cd you bought? What is your musical taste?

I just bought a CD by Booty Luv, a British girl pop group. I love all kinds of music; my tastes are quite eclectic. On my XM Satellite Radio you’ll hear me listening to anything from heavy metal to electronica to international pop to traditional country. I also like J-pop and enka, two types of Japanese music.

What is the last book you read?

Run River by Joan Didion.

What's next for you?

Very soon my agent will be handing in my second novel for St. Martin’s, part of the two-book deal I received. I hope they’ll be pleased with it. Here’s a blurb I wrote for it:

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. Lost in translation, she stumbles head first into a weird, wonderful world where nothing is quite as it seems; a land of gaijin worshippers, karaoke boxes, sushi fortune tellers, and unbearably perky TV stars. But when she learns to sing a Japanese song called “The Wishing Star” Celeste finds herself on a path to finding real love, understanding the true meaning of family and, most of all, discovering her own voice.

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Blogger Sarah/A Full Plate said...
Hi! I just found your blog, and will add it to my favorites. I'm a writer in Seattle and I've just finished my first book -- in my agent's hands. So, it's fun to read about new author debuts! @ 1:48 PM  
OpenID allrileyedup said...
It's a bit depressing to read how hard it was for her to find an agent. I'll try to thicken my skin. @ 1:32 AM  
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