Briefly tell us about your book.
The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida is a story of how a young woman’s unexplained suicide shapes and transforms the lives of those she left behind. It’s a literary mystery with elements of magical realism set in Japan.
What inspired the idea behind this book?
I’m fascinated with the idea that often, we thought that we know a person really well, but actually, we don’t. How far would you go to uncover the truth? And what if the truth is more painful than the lies?
What was the research process like for the book?
I grew up reading copious amounts of manga (Japanese comics), and I’ve been learning the Japanese language and traditional culture since high school, so that gave me a good starting point. I also consulted a huge number of books, essays, and articles, and asked some friends who were familiar with Japan to be my beta readers.
If I looked at your internet history, what would it reveal about you?
I’m currently into longboard dancing, so my internet history is filled with longboarding videos and tutorials. There are also a number of cooking-related links. Ever since the lockdown period, I’ve taken a strong interest in recreating my favourite Japanese cuisine and desserts.
Does the creative process get easier for you with each book?
I wouldn’t say the second novel was harder – or easier – than the first one. Each of them has different challenges. With the first novel, I was still exploring and discovering. The learning curve was steep. With the second novel, there was a benchmark to exceed. I knew I wanted to grow as a writer.
What was the most challenging part of writing this book?
Proofreading, especially after I’ve grown too close to my work after spending years working on it. The final check is a very important step. I want to present the best possible book to the readers.
What’s the easiest and most difficult parts of your job as a writer?
The easiest part is to write. It has been such a big part of me that I couldn’t think of myself not writing.
The most challenging part is to think of myself as a writer. Just like a lot of writers, I often question myself and have a lot of self-doubt. Over the years, I’ve learned to be more confident thanks to the support of my friends and readers.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
I’d like to share my favourite quote from Stephen King. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Publishing does involve luck, but luck favours those who work hard and never give up.
Who are some of your favourite authors? Or favourite books?
I’m a huge fan of Japanese novels. Some of my favourites are Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen, Keigo Higashino’s Malice, Hiromi Kawakami’s Strange Weather in Tokyo, Fuminori Nakamura’s The Thief, Yoko Ogawa’s The Housekeeper and The Professor, and Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on a literary suspense. Just like Rainbirds (my debut novel) and The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida, it is set in Japan. The three novels are not in a series, but they are interrelated and set in the same universe. You’ll see characters in one book make appearances in the others. Do keep a lookout for the side characters, because they might be the main characters for the next book.