For anyone who’s ever dreamt of finding love and family in an unexpected place…
After receiving a puzzling phone call and a box full of mysterious family heirlooms, 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. Once there she stumbles head first into a weird, wonderful world where nothing is quite as it seems—a land with an inexplicable fascination with foreigners, karaoke boxes, and unbearably perky TV stars.
With little knowledge of Japanese, Celeste finds a friend in her English-speaking homestay brother, Takuya, and comes to depend on him for all variety of translation, travel and investigatory needs. As they cross the country following a trail after Celeste's relatives, she discovers she's developing "more-than-sisterly" feelings for him, although his mother seems to have other plans for her son. But it is when Celeste learns a Japanese song called “The Wishing Star” that things begin to change for her 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?
“A delightful novel about love, identity, and what it means to be adrift in a strange land. This story of a search has an Alice in Wonderland vibe; when Celeste climbs down the rabbit hole, one can't help but follow along.” —Michelle Richmond, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Fog
“An amusing story of one woman's quest for her father and the improbable path of love. —Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters
An interview with Wendy!:
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.
Which craft books have inspired or helped you throughout your writing career?
There are many and some are not technically “craft” books such as “The Resilient Writer: Tales of Rejection and Triumph from 23 Top Authors” by Catherine Wald. Others include “bird by bird” by Anne Lamott, “The First Five Pages” by Noah Lukeman and “The Art & Craft of Novel Writing” by Oakley Hall.
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.
Author Bio: Wendy Nelson Tokunaga is the author of the novels, MIDORI BY MOONLIGHT (St. Martin's, Available Now) and LOVE IN TRANSLATION (St. Martin's, November 2009). Her novel, NO KIDDING, won the Literary/Mainstream Fiction category in Writer’s Digest’s Best Self-Published Book Awards in 2002. She is also the author of two children's non-fiction books, and has had short stories published in various literary journals. Wendy signed her two-book deal with St. Martin’s just as she was beginning the MFA in Writing program at the University of San Francisco in 2006. Along with her MFA, she also holds a BA in Psychology from San Francisco State University. In her spare time Wendy sings bossa nova, cool pop, jazz standards and Japanese songs accompanied by her surfer dude husband Manabu on electronic keyboards. They live with their cat Meow in the San Francisco Bay Area, a short walk from the Pacific Ocean.
Find more information at Wendy’s website (http://www.WendyTokunaga.com). And look for her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wendy-Nelson-Tokunaga/52795977320) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/Wendy_Tokunaga)