Friday, September 14, 2007

Sushi for One

Hey all! I TOLD you I'd be back with more info on this great book by the awesome Camy Tang. I'm today's stop on the blog tour, so for those of you popping in for the first time, welcome! Please leave a comment and introduce yourself, and be sure to come back now and then to check things out. :)

Camy and I did a little email interview a couple weeks ago. Those of you who come here often know I LOVE to hear how other writers tick. I'm always looking for a new way to approach my writing, brainstorming, whatever--and I have that tiny little voyeuristic streak that all writers have because we're just so darn nosy. ( least I think all writers have it...)

ALISON: Tell us about your path to publication. When did you start writing, what led you to this genre, and how did you come up with the premise for "Sushi for One"?

I originally wrote ethnically neutral characters, because that's what
I was reading--ethnically neutral romances. I still love them, but I
felt God telling me to go a different direction. To write what WASN'T
being published--romances with Asian American characters.

Then at an American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, author
Brandilyn Collins prayed over me. I had told her to pray as the Spirit
led her, and the first thing--the FIRST thing--she said was she felt
God telling me to "write your heritage."

I hadn't told Brandilyn about my writing dilemma--to be a risktaker
and write Asian American romances or continue writing ethnically
neutral romances--and so this word from God hit me like an earthquake.
Doesn't get any clearer than that, does it?

So I trashed my premise for my manuscript and rewrote it from an Asian
American woman's perspective. And I discovered that suddenly, the
woman's extended family just wouldn't shut up! They kept nagging her
about marrying and having children before her parents die, and all
kinds of faintly threatening, rather morbid predictions. In fact, it
sounded a lot like my friends' parents/aunties/grandmas.

That's how the Sushi Series was born. I started with four cousins,
each with very different personalities, and wondered how each of them
would respond to the pressures of being 30, single, and Asian American
in the San Francisco Bay Area.

A: Wow, don't you just love it when God speaks that clearly? :) Okay, so, the first thing that pops into my head when I read your description of the book is Amy Tan's "The Joy Luck Club." I'm guessing I'm not the first to tell you that--are you sick yet of that comparison? :) Having read Tan's book on writing, I know that her own family dynamics played heavily into her writing. Is the same true for you? Beyond just the ethnicity of the characters, does "Sushi for One" reflect your own upbringing and life experience?

C: Not necessarily. My family (especially my grandma) is certainly not as dysfunctional as Lex's! However, Asian American culture is very family oriented, so it's impossible for me to write about Asian Americans without having some family influence in their lives.

I think a lot of ethnicities can relate to this. Think of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The heroine's family pestered her about EVERYTHING. My Italian American friend says she can relate to the whole family thing, too.

While I like Amy Tan, my one goal in writing Sushi for One was to write something not as serious and more romancy. So the family issues are looked at with a tongue-in-cheek attitude, because really, if you can't laugh at yourself, there's no hope for you. :)

A: *lol* Well, I must have plenty of hope then. ;) Okay, so, tell us what other books you have in the pipeline. Are you already contracted for another?

C: The second book in the series, Only Uni, releases February 2008.
That's Trish's story. The third book in the series, Venus's story, is
Single Sashimi, and that releases in the fall of 2008.

I'm also working on a Young Adult Asian chick lit proposal, so let's
hope that gets accepted!

A: Oh good, I love knowing there's another book to go to (or at least to wait for). So describe your writing process. Your books are releasing so close together--are you that fast a writer, or did you have them all written? Are you an outliner or a "seat of your pants" type writer? What does a typical writing day look like for you?

C: I had the general storylines for all of them figured out, but the
other two manuscripts weren't written. However, I'd written my last
couple books in 6 months, so I was reasonably sure I could finish the
other books on contract.

I'm definitely an outliner, I'm incredibly anal about it. I like using
Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake method:
I also use 45 MASTER CHARACTER by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, and WRITING

My typical writing day varies depending on what I have to do. Usually,
I spend about 2 or 3 hours on email and internet marketing, and then
the rest of the time on writing, freelance editing, the ACFW Genesis
contest, or any other writing-related business.

A: Oooh--I just discovered the snowflake method, too, and it's been awesome! I'll have to check out the other two books you mentioned; I think I have "Writing the Breakout Novel" but I didn't know it had a workbook, too.

So let's talk a little more specifically about "Sushi for One." Give us a quick summary of the story and tell us a little about the main character.

C: Here's a bonus just for you, Alison! This is the original blurb for
the book that I used for my proposal:

Sports-crazy Lex Sakai isn't too worried about "winning" the
unofficial family title "Oldest Single Female Cousin" when her cousin
Mariko marries in a few months. Her control-freak grandma is easy to
ignore, until Grandma issues an ultimatum—if Lex can't find a date for
Mariko's wedding, her ruthless Grandma will cut off funding to the
girls' volleyball team that Lex coaches.

Lex isn't about to look desperate by dating every player in the
dugout. She comes up with a stringent list of requirements from her
Ephesians Bible study in her search for The Perfect Man. She always
wins in volleyball—if she ups her game, she's sure to succeed.

Then her brother introduces her to non-Christian,
non-volleyball-playing, no-immediate-physical-appeal Aiden.

Aiden's on the rebound from a girl named Trish, who dumped him because
he wasn't Christian. Then he discovers that Lex is 1) not attracted to
him at all, 2) Christian, and 3) Trish's cousin. No way is he hooking
up with anyone from that crazy family, much less another hypocritical
Christian chick. He's certainly not masochistic.

Time is running out for Lex, and no matter what she does, she can't
find the right guy. Especially when she keeps running into Aiden
everywhere. If only the List would stop getting longer and longer...

Camy here: Lex is the volleyball player I wish I was! I'm only so-so,
unfortunately. She's also stronger and braver than I could ever be,
which made her fun to write! She and I also share the same penchant
for Wonderbras.

* * * * *

So hey, if that hasn't grabbed your interest, then maybe this will: Camy is holding a huge website contest right now where she's giving away baskets of Christian fiction and an iPod Nano! Only her newsletter YahooGroup subscribers are eligible, though, so join today:

Like I said when I first posted about Sushi for One?, it's a great book, and I stayed up two hours past my bedtime just to finish it. I highly recommend it and can't wait for the next installment. Buy it today!