[Trying to be] Big in Rural Japan

For the past several months, most of my writing efforts have been channeled not into this blog (as you can probably tell) but into three full-length projects. I now have drafts in various stages of three novels – two YA novels, and one adult novel, which I’m calling The Baseball Widow, and which, as you may guess, is somewhat autobiographical.

Over the past three years I’ve published my first novel, set here, in Tokushima, a picture book, also set here, and two anthologies. I have tried, on numerous occasions, and in various ways to bring my books to the local media’s attention. Call me crazy and/or conceited, but I believe that there might be a few people around who would be interested to know that someone among them is writing about Tokushima for the rest of the world. The local newspaper has, however, ignored the press release that I sent in Japanese, as well as the sample copies of my books that have arrived in their offices.

“The direct approach doesn’t work in Japan,” my husband told me. “It’s better if they hear about it from someone else.”

Okay, so I tried to go through a friend with connections, but that didn’t work either.

Finally, my husband went on a fishing trip with an old high school classmate who now writes for the newspaper. He finagled an interview for me. A reporter arrived on my doorstep last Thursday.

I had all of my books piled on the coffee table. I knew that they were old news, so I tried to give him something fresh. Losing Kei is being translated into Russian! My anthology Call Me Okaasan recently won an award! But all he wanted to talk about was my work-in-progress, The Baseball Widow. More specifically, he seemed to be angling for some juicy true-life stories that made it into the book. “Like a fight you had with your husband,” he suggested.

“It’s fiction,” I insisted. “Sure, it’s based on truth, in part, but part of the reason I’m writing it as a novel is in order to protect my family’s privacy.”

When I told him I wasn’t sure if my husband would want to be mentioned by name (along with his age and workplace and how we met), he put down his pen and said that if he couldn’t write about my husband, then there was no story.

It was the oddest, most uncomfortable interview I’ve ever endured. Maybe sleazy is the right word.

In the past, I’ve been interviewed by people who had an interest in books – or at least some interest in me.

I guess the lesson here is “be careful what you wish for.”

The basest part of me hopes that at least this interview sells a few books.

4 thoughts on “[Trying to be] Big in Rural Japan

  1. How frustrating that must be for you. Why does everyone need gossip before they become interested? (unfortunately it’s not only in Japan either).

    I for one am really looking forward to it being published. As a baseball mother, I know just how much the rest of the family have to sacrifice but having the father/husband as a coach must be so much harder since they are working such long hours for kids who are not even their own. Hopefully the parents from the team he taught appreciated everything that he – and you in turn – did for them.

    Congratulation on getting Losing Kei translated into Russian!

  2. sounds like a tabloid writer.

    unfortunately, even in the new yorker, i’ve seen a penchant for wanting the dirt in an interview or in an author bio article.

    losing kei in russian – way to go!

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