Sunday, December 6, 2009

Love In Translation by Wendy Tokunaga

Wendy Tokunaga's latest book Love In Translation was just released. Wendy agreed to stop by and answer some of my questions about her process and her latest book.

What inspired Love in Translation?

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.

What do you consider the heart of your story?

My stories seem to have several “hearts,” or at least I see them that way. In LOVE IN TRANSLATION it’s how Celeste Duncan, a woman without a family, finds one in a foreign culture. It’s also about the power of music on the soul and heart and the meaning of finding your own voice, both in the singing sense and the identity sense.

What comes most naturally for you to write, dialogue? plot? character? What’s the hardest?

Easiest for me is plot and that’s what I try to spend time sorting that out on the first draft. I also like to “talk out” my plot to friends and keep refining it that way. The most difficult is slowing down and spending time on description. I don’t care for long passages of description, but you must have some. So I try and strike a happy medium, but it isn’t easy for me.

What has brought the greatest joy since you were published? The greatest angst?

I’d say the greatest joy is having readers who appreciate your writing. And the greatest angst is in working hard to keep those readers and gain more.

What do you love about being an author?

There’s so much that I enjoy. First, it’s great to be paid for something you love to do. But I also find it inspiring to help other writers. I enjoy telling my story of woe on my road to publication and let others know that they don’t need any special connections to the publishing world in order to get published. I like to promote the message that you should never give up. And if you work hard, keep at it and be flexible, your publishing dream may come true. I also like helping other writers make their work the best it can be.

What’s one piece of writing advice you’ve found valuable on your journey to publication?

That often you won’t discover the real story you’re trying to tell until the revision process.

How do you promote your books? Are you going on tour for this book? Any upcoming signings?

I do a lot of my own promotion for my books, much of it online. I’m on MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, have blogs, a website, etc., etc. It’s fun, but it can be overwhelming sometimes. I actually was dreaming in Tweets the other night and I often spend way too much time thinking about what my Facebook status should be. I generally do readings and signings in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have events coming up for promotion of LOVE IN TRANSLATION in early December in San Francisco, Half Moon Bay and Corte Madera, which are all listed on my website. And I may be doing some more in January. At some of the events I’ll be performing “The Wishing Star (Nozomi no Hoshi)” the “theme song” from LOVE IN TRANSLATION, which is the fictional song portrayed in the book brought to real life. I also really like appearing at writers conferences and I’ll be at the San Francisco Writers Conference in mid-February. I’ll also be teaching a class called Your Novel: The Road to Publication at Books Inc. Opera Plaza in San Francisco in January.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on a novel that is a different departure for me: it has very little to do with Japan!


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