Happy Friday, guys!
I have some good news here: first of all, The Daydreamer Detective I liked so much (you could read my review here) is finally available! And what more, Stephanie even found some time in her busy schedule to give me the following interview. We spoke about her writing, last book and there is also some teaser for all curious readers out there.
Check it out!
Stephanie, The Daydreamer Detective was my first book I have read by you, and I’m sure it wasn’t the last one. It surprised me how much you know about Japan, while living in NYC area. Can you sharewhat led to your interest in Japan?
I have been in love with Japan for almost 20 years now! Just after college, I saw Princess Mononoke (Japanese anime by Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli) and something about the themes of nature and tradition really appealed to me. A new friend, who is still a great friend to this day, and what it’s like there. I studied the culture and language on my own until I moved to NYC in 2000, then I took Japanese language courses at The Japan Society there for 6 years. I have since then surrounded myself in with Japanese literature and reference books, movies, TV, and one trip to Japan in 2005. I’m returning there again in late summer and can’t wait! Lots of people ask me “Why Japan?” and my only answer is that my understanding of Japanese culture is almost instinctual. Everything I learn just makes sense, like I’ve always known it. It’s my argument that I was actually Japanese in a former life. Lol. Writing about Japan has been a way for me to connect to the culture on a daily basis and keep my education about Japan alive.
You have written a lot of books already, so I think I can say your works are mostly series. Why do you prefer to spend more time with certain characters?
It’s a well-known fact in the author community that series are what sells. Not only do we like spending more time with our characters, readers do as well, and they want to see how characters grow and change over time. It’s very rare that my vision for a character and setting can be contained in just one book! I really love long series both on TV and movies, so I’m not surprised the same is true for books! I also grew up reading a lot of series, so series came very naturally to me as an author.
Back to The Daydreamer Detective. Your main chacter Mei is a little bit anti-hero, but still managed to solve a mystery. Was there any particular reason why you let her be unsecure, feeling useless etc.?
It’s my intention to show a grand character arc over the entire series of books, and what fun is it if the heroine is completely capable and perfect from the first book? None, as far as I’m concerned. Mei’s growth and strength as a character will come as we watch her discover herself and become more confident and capable as the series progresses. This is a storytelling technique that’s as old as time: the hero’s journey. A flawed and/or broken hero who overcomes his weakness and triumphs at the end is a compelling story and keeps readers flipping the pages. My goal for Mei is for her to become stronger with each book. Sometimes she will be battered down or seem to be at her lowest, but we will all cheer for her when she gets back up and keeps on fighting.
There’s also a romantic touch, not so typical for mystery and crime books, where we read about typical macho-man detective, having either crumbling marriage or lots of one-night stands. Was your intention to break also these stereotypes?
Funnily enough, I didn’t realize I was doing something totally different when I added in the romance subplot. It seemed, in a lot of cozy mysteries with woman protagonists, that this was missing! I felt a huge hole in the books and thought that romance, the connection between two people amongst all the other upheaval, could fill in the gaps. So far the response has been really positive, so I’m happy with what I did. I hope others will enjoy that aspect as well.
What would be recommended reader’s age of The Daydreamer Detective? Personally, I found it scary, but not shockingly, so maybe it’s suitable also for younger readers?
I figure it’s good for adults (or maybe even 16+). Though there is no on-the-page sex, she does refer to it on several occasions and her relationship with Yasahiro will grow in the coming books (hint hint). But yes, cozy mysteries downplay a lot of the violence and, if anything, the endings of my books should make you ponder about baser emotions (jealousy, anger, greed) and what it does to people. My intention is to get readers to think and empathize. Most of the murders and vioence happen off the page, and the endings are usually very suspenseful. Nothing worse than what I read as a teen!
To my great joy, there’s a new book of Miso Cosy Mysteries coming up. Is there already set update for its release?
Yes! The Daydreamer Detective Braves The Winter will be out on July 7. I have plans to publish another one either in late fall or early winter, but that’s only in planning stages as of yet! I will reveal the cover, blurb, and have it up for pre-order on all vendors during the week of April 11th.
And finally, is there some teaser you would like to share with our readers?
Here’s an excerpt from The Daydreamer Detective and a teaser image to go with it! Thanks for having me today!
Yasahiro cleared his throat and raised his chin. “To start, we have a fresh green beans and lotus root salad. Crisp and tangy with toasted sesame seeds, rice vinegar, and ginger.” He pointed to the plate in front of me, greens and thin slices of lotus root arranged in a neat pile. “And these are my pork and scallion dumplings with Sriracha, ginger, and lemongrass dipping sauce.” Four plump dumplings sat on the other plate, and my mouth began to water.
“I hope you enjoy them,” he said, bowing and turning to go.
“Wait.” I snapped my hand out and grabbed the white fabric of his chef’s coat. “Won’t you be having lunch with me?”
I glanced around at the restaurant, crawling with people. Oh no. I’d honestly believed we’d have lunch together. He’d tell me about the food and his work and…
I blushed. Hard. I thought this was a date, didn’t I? Deep down, way down in the cellar of my brain, I’d daydreamed a date out of this. I was so stupid. This was the lunch rush hour, and he only did this because I challenged him.
Snap out of it!
“I mean…” I stammered, and letting go of his chef’s coat, he smoothed out the wrinkles with his hand. “I know you can’t have lunch with me. It’s too busy in here. I just thought you might want to, um, explain a little more about the food?”
If only my lie sounded a little more confident.
A small smile grew across his lips, and my entire being died of embarrassment. “I’m sorry. I do have a lot of work to do, including your main course.”
“Oh yes, of course. I completely understand. I’m looking forward to eating everything you bring out today. I’m sure I’ll be won over by Wednesday, and we’ll declare you the winner of this silly challenge.”
Because I was not coming here and eating alone while everyone around me ate together. I was willing to do that once in a while, with a book, but not every day. I’d rather I ate at home with Mom.
“No, no, no. I said I was going to feed you lunch for a whole week, and you can’t capitulate right away. You said this food would be bland, and I’m going to prove it’s not.”
I nodded slowly, resigned. What had I gotten myself into? I’d challenged a chef with a prestigious resume, a student of my mother’s, and the town’s newest darling. I should never have opened my mouth. I was close to making a complete fool of myself, and I regretted it to my bones.
Yasahiro paused for a moment as I took a sip of water.
“But, if you’d like to come and eat lunch a little later tomorrow, maybe after 14:00, I could eat with you. Lunch usually slows down by 13:30 and then we close the kitchen from 14:00 to to prepare for dinner.”
“I don’t want to bother you any more than I already have —”
“It’s not a bother,” he interrupted, and this time, he stammered and seemed eager to keep me there. Hmmm. Interesting. The daydream of Yasahiro wandering the streets of Paris popped into my head again, and I stopped to add more details to it: the tiny scar through his right eyebrow, the shape of his ears, his white teeth (he must go to a private dentist). The daydream shifted and I imagined him at the dentist’s office, in the chair. No! Back to Paris. Yes, that was better.