The Sea of Japan by Keita Nagano
1- Is this your American debut novel, the first one you're publishing here? What prompted you to publish it here instead of in Japan?
Yes, except for my self-published book on Amazon, “Rachel Assigned to Tokyo.” I have been acutely aware of the gap between Japanese people’s understanding of American culture versus Americans’ understanding Japanese culture. My life mission is to get my fatherly country and motherly country closer by even one more inch. As such, I had felt I should write a book in English someday. Besides, the size of the book market is much larger here than the one in Japan.
2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?
Write less to express more. All authors in the world tend to write more, but the modern readers are not tolerant of too much writing or beyond the reasonable descriptions. They want to imagine between the lines, between the scenes. As such, cutting the lines is important work. It’s a long road for me to master it, but I am getting to grasp how to do it. The rule is if you are not sure, you just cut it. Then, read it through. If it still seems make sense, your cut was legitimate and good one.
Show, don’t tell. But don’t be afraid of telling, either. Nobody prefers reading your tell to show. Show is the joy of read. However, as a matter of “writing law,” in order to fit the story into the right size, you have to deploy tell when you need to move the story onto the next event.
3- What ignited your passion for writing?
I think it’s a desire to be connected with my readers. Everyone has their voice. Some people are good at talking, but I’m not good at it. I found that writing fiction is the best way for me to share my voice. Yes, it may not be practical to spend more than 2000 hours sharing my voice while others may take 30 minutes to orally tell a story. But if it’s an important voice, and when you find the best methodology for you, you opt out of all other options.
4- How often do people point out that you look like actor Victor Garber?
(Laughter!) Never. I don’t deserve him. He is much more handsome and more than 6 feet tall. I am 5’5”.
5- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?
I don’t do Twitter these days. I do FB and Instagram.
6- Would you share a picture with us of your book with a dog?
7- Have you held the jobs of teacher or fisher? If so, did that help in writing the book? If not, how did you research those roles for the book?
As a teacher, yes, but not professionally. As a fisherman, not at all. Therefore, I have spent significant time on research, especially into fisheries. I rode on several commercial fishery boats. Also, I have been to many commercial fishery ports both in the US and Japan. As people say, seeing is believing. I would say, you have to believe yourself by seeing before making the readers believe.
8- What most motivates you to read a new book?
I always read two books simultaneously. One for my joy, one for my training.
9- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!
Author name:Michael Connelly @Connellybooks
Title: The Lincoln Lawyer (It’s series)
Love because: In addition to its legal-crime drama quality, you can feel how much the author loves living in Los Angeles. I learnt from him that if you love particular venues, use their real names. Readers will find it more real and fun. I did that in my book. It’s full of real names in their real locations. If you Google them, you’ll find them. By the way, it was announced that CBS would start developing episodic dramas of The Lincoln Lawyer. https://variety.com/2019/tv/news/lincoln-lawyer-series-cbs-david-e-kelley-1203252888/
10- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?
My publisher, Brooke Warner. She has been in the book publishing industry for more than 20 years and she kindly believed in my story. She loves my book because there are no other books displaying this much originality. As a publisher, she always wants to avoid same-old, same-old books.
11- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader, and is there a particular scene you hope will resonate with readers?
My book has a typical tension ramp-up towards the end. If people say, “I cried during the final scene,” I will be super happy and filled with gratitude. If people say this is a tear-jerking book, I will be thrilled.
12- Do you have a favorite #bookstagram image or account/ profile?
13- How do you hope your book will help readers in their life?
Loss does not mean someone is gone. The loved one is ever present, even if you lost them. Just like the firefly squid dive in the book. They generate billions of blue lights in the dark ocean to give birth to new lives, but they dive to die.
14- What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of one of your characters?
Due to the sorrow of losing both her parents, Lindsey developed her unusual photographic memory. With that, she nurtured her card counting skill at casinos.
15- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? diversebooks.org #WeNeedDiverseBooks
Maximum diversity. For example, in the English dictionary, the word “fisherwoman” doesn’t exist, but my main character has become one. Or, even with the great success of American food culture, there are almost zero shops serving pastrami or corned beef in Japanese eateries. But my main characters are bringing authentic New York Style deli foods to Japan.
16- Who is your favorite book review blogger?
17- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?
The publishing company is relatively new, but the publisher has got a strong voice. I met her at the San Francisco Writers’ Conference and became a fan of her. I explained my story, she requested my manuscript, and later on she gave me an offer. So, everything is out of human, in person, connection.
18- Why do you think readers should write book reviews?
This book publishing industry is falling. But I’ve heard more and more people would like to write than read. As such, someone should explain the joy of book reading. That’s the stimulus package for the industry. It’s the review, not the book, that would drive their appetite for the good books.
19- Do you have one question or discussion topic which you would like the readers of this interview to answer or remark on in the comments?
Thank you for the opportunity. So, here is my point. I didn’t believe much in translations. They sound too foreign for me. That is why, even though English is not my mother tongue, I started writing this story in English from scratch. Because the story is set in Japan, it’s literally a foreign story to some extent. But my question to your readers is how successful or unsuccessful my strategy has been to you. Compare the translated books you have ever read, is my book still far from you, or close enough for you?
20- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?
My goal is to produce a book people simply cannot put down. That is the joy of reading, isn’t it? I will write more until I die.
The Sea of Japan by Keita Nagano