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Jolly Fish Press
Today’s post is an interview with Jenniffer Wardell, author of Fairy Godmother’s, Inc., published by Jolly Fish Press just last week. I caught up with Jenniffer as she shared her thoughts on her wonderful world of fairy tales with a twist.
To an outsider, having a career as a fairy godmother sounds pretty sweet. But poor Kate shows us it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. What sparked the initial idea for Kate’s situation?
Kate sort of fell into her job. Certain companies are always looking for a hard worker who has her own set of highly atmospheric fairy wings, and Fairy Godmothers, Inc. was the one that didn’t require being obsessed with flowers or regularly mobbed by small children. Also, she likes helping people through stressful situations, and nothing is more stressful than a fancy dress ball.
I love reading your Facebook and Twitter posts about Fairy Godmother rules. Have you written an actual rule book or do these posts simply percolate through your brain and end up on social media?
I get them one rule at a time, which means that my numbering system is a complete and total mess. If I ever do organize them into a complete book, I’ll have to re-file everything and put them into the appropriate sub-categories. While I’m vaguely terrified by the idea, my inner geek would love it.
Your day job is reporting for the Davis Clipper. Do you approach writing fiction differently than reporting? If so, how do you switch mental hats?
The basic idea is surprisingly similar. Whether I’m writing an article or a novel, my main job is to watch what’s going on and translate it in such a way that my readers will know everything I do. Sometimes I’m watching city council meetings, and sometimes I’m watching fancy dress balls. Either way, “Show, don’t tell” are important words to live by.
Unfortunately, newspaper articles rarely give you the chance to be funny. Luckily, I have my novels for that.
I know you’ve written short fiction in the same world as Fairy Godmothers, Inc. Do you have plans for other works?
My novel set to come out in 2014, Beast Charming, is also set in the same world as Fairy Godmothers, Inc. I’m currently at work on a third novel in the same world (I’m having some fun with Sleeping Beauty this time), and have some ideas for a Fairy Godmothers, Inc. sequel.
Jenniffer Wardell is the arts, entertainment and lifestyle reporter for the Davis Clipper. She’s the winner of several awards from the Utah Press Association and the Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
What do you do when you’re a matchmaker with an iron-clad wish-fulfillment contract to make Rellie’s happily ever after happen with the heir to the throne of Somewhere, but not only is the prince unwilling, he’s gone missing and the new-found love of your life has to fill in? What if true love had a darker side, a potion that compels love to seal the forever after deal? And what if Rellie didn’t like glass slippers and wanted something furry?
Add in Bubbles the boss from hell, fairy wings, and entrance packages with firework flourishes and you’ve got a glimpse into Kate’s less than glamorous life as a fairy godmother.
Fairy Godmothers, Inc. by Jenniffer Wardell is a rollicking romp through familiar fairy tale characters and landscapes with a bureaucratic twist. Slipping into Kate’s wacky corporate world is delightful; the writing’s sharp and reminiscent of PG versions of The Nanny Diaries and Bridget Jones’s Diary. As Kate rallies against fate, contracts, and clients readers will fall in love with her plucky bravado.
Fairy Godmothers, Inc. is the first published novel set in Jenniffer’s fairy tale/super hero/monsters-that-don’t-sparkle world. Beast Charming is scheduled for 2014 and there are several short stories on her blog that give you a taste of her hilarious work.
Fairy Godmothers, Inc., by Jenniffer Wardell and published by Jolly Fish Press, is available April 27, 2013 in hardback, paperback, and eBook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other purveyors of fine literature.
This guest post comes from Berk Washburn, one half of the Brothers Washburn, authors of the Dimensions in Death Series. (I reviewed their book Pitch Green–you can see it here.) I asked the guys what it was like to collaborate with a brother. This was Berk’s response.
Please don’t get me wrong. My brother doesn’t need a keeper, though sometimes my wife says that I do, and if he did need a keeper, he has a bunch of sisters who would be happy to take the job. We have 7 sisters who have been trying to keep us out of trouble for a long time. We are two of 9 sons (16 children total) who grew up in the Mojave desert near Death Valley. Our father was a dentist, who built up a practice in Trona, California, a small mining town. While we were growing up, he was the only dentist in town. As the good citizens of Trona mined the minerals of Searles Valley, Dad mined their teeth.
When, in turn, Andy and I went off to college, we left the desert and never looked backed. We thought we were done with Trona forever, but couldn’t have been more wrong. For about 35 years, I was a business lawyer working for international commercial finance companies in Ohio, Michigan and Colorado. For about 25 years, Andy was a trial practice lawyer working in Southern California. While we have kept our law licenses current, we are now writing fiction full time. Though some would say that’s what we did as lawyers, this is different.
As lawyers, we were always solving other people’s problems. After we each moved to Colorado, we talked for some time about starting a business together where we only had to solve our own problems. We both have many years of formal writing experience, and we have always been story tellers, first to our siblings, then to our own children (I have 8 kids and Andy has 6 kids), and now to our grandkids (who are increasing exponentially in number). Scary stories have always been a family specialty. A few years ago, I started writing a young adult science fiction series, so when Andy also tried his hand at writing fiction, it didn’t take long for us to come together as The Brothers Washburn on a young adult horror series. The tale is of course set in Trona, California, which is the perfect setting for a horror series.
As a child, Andy loved Dr. Seuss, then later, A Collection of Short Stories, by O. Henry was a favorite. As a teenager, he was fascinated with The Illustrated Man, by Bradbury. Growing up, I was on the lookout for anything by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and as a teenager, I was always searching for new and interesting sci-fi writers. It is no surprise, then, that we are currently writing both a YA horror series as well as a separate YA sci-fi series. We find that once we start telling a horror or sci-fi story, the bounds of the story are limited only by our own creativity and imagination–though everything we write has to be grandchild approved.
As brothers, we get along well, and have a healthy level of mutual self-respect, so we can freely share ideas and challenge each other without worrying about egos. We are more creative when we are bouncing ideas off each other and discussing a general storyline, but we actually write separately, and then confer later on what we have been doing. Though we sometimes disagree on specific wording, there is usually some friendly give and take as we consider alternatives, and then we can agree quickly on the final wording. We both appreciate the different perspective and skills that the other brings to the joint process.
In key ways, we are different in how we approach a story. Andy used to be a planner (a habit he got from writing like an attorney), but in fiction writing, he no longer likes to plan ahead. He likes to develop his characters, and then let them take the story wherever it is going to go. On the other hand, I am definitely still a planner. I am always making lists and outlines, not only for the current story, but for future stories as well.
In addition, Andy doesn’t like having other people around him when he is writing, especially when he is creating new material. There is no real reason for this, just sometimes people bug him. In my case, I have to organize my surrounding work environment. Once everything around me is in order, then I can detach from the world and write.
If Andy hits a tough spot in the story development, it is almost always because of outside distractions. If he can get rid of the distractions around him, he can keep writing. If I hit a tough spot, I don’t try to force it. I stop, leave the house, pick up some fast food, and then I can come back refreshed and ready to move the story forward. I find that fresh ideas just come naturally when I’m eating–Chipotle is always good.
Background research is important to both of us in two areas: theoretical science and local Trona geography. This series is an ongoing horror story based on principals of science rather than on demons, devils or magical creatures, so some understanding of the extremes of scientific theory is necessary and fun. But, Dimensions in Death is not a science fiction series with a few scary scenes. It is horror, suspense and fright in a fast pace narrative with a little science by way of explanation, sprinkled on for spice, as the truth is gradually discovered by our heroes in the story. Separately, the local geography in the story plays a critical role in setting the mood of the tale. Trona, California is a real place in this world located in a desolate region of the Mojave Desert by Death Valley, and we try to keep the series settings as real as possible.
The general outline for Pitch Green came together one evening in November of 2010. We were attending a writer’s seminar together in Manhattan and listening to panel discussions by top literary agents. As we rode the subway from one end-of-the-line stop across town to the opposite end-of-the-line stop, and then back again, we mapped out the basic elements we would need to expand a favorite childhood scary story into a full-length novel. Andy wrote the first rough draft, and then I took it over to edit and expand the tale. In the writing of the first book, the ground work was laid for both the sequels and the prequels of that series.
In Pitch Green, we meet two teenagers, Camm and Cal, who are destined by their wit, pluck and luck (not always good) to become the balancing force in this world against predators that keep showing up around an old mansion, which is apparently something more than just a mansion. Our heroes must make a stand against the mansion’s guardians, any visitors who might want to come through the mansion in search of easy prey, and the forces of the U.S. Federal Government, who are using the mansion to access unlimited natural resources. Camm is the brains, Cal is the muscle and together they make a formidable team when they decide to work together. They are joined by an FBI agent, Special Agent Linda Allen, who is smart, resourceful and not easily intimidated by those protecting the government’s secrets.
In this first book of the Dimensions in Death series, our heroes are introduced to the mansion and an other-worldly guardian while being hurled from one scene of horror to the next. They barely have time to catch their breath or scratch the surface of what is happening, and they do not understand the nature of what they are really facing. Though their intentions are good, by the end of the first book, they have left a doorway wide open and unguarded. Pitch Green is the opening act of a long and complex tale in which Camm, Cal and Agent Allen will be explorers in the dimensions in death.
Thanks for stopping by! Pitch Green is available as a hardback and eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and wherever fine books are sold.
Connect with The Brothers Washburn
Camm and Cal have a problem that’s stinkier than a sulfur lava vent, creepier than a naked rat tail, and hungrier than a shark. It’s a problem and puzzle they’ll have to solve before it strikes again and another child disappears.
Pitch Green, by Berk and Andy Washburn publishing as the Brothers Washburn, is the first in their young adult Dimensions in Death series. Set in the Mohave desert, Pitch Green introduces us to Trona, a small California town whose only claim to fame is a dry lakebed where chemicals are extracted and processed in the town’s factory and a huge deserted mansion that miraculously repairs and cleans itself. Seven years ago on Halloween night, Cal’s younger brother Hughie disappeared and Camm has never forgiven herself. Now high school seniors, Camm and Cal are in a race to discover one of Trona’s darkest secrets before it can kill again.
Of course, nothing is quite what it seems in Trona. There are layers to this town that I’m sure will be revealed as the series progresses. There are delicious hints of government conspiracies, mad scientists, and cover ups. There are also guns, puzzle boxes, Hebrew script, and barf-tainted kisses. Best friends and potential romantic couple Camm and Cal are intelligent, dedicated, resourceful, and brave—not lily-livered, hide your head under the sheets characters or girl/boy stereotypes—and refreshingly, the adults aren’t buffoons either.
By turns witty, funny, scary, thrilling, and chilling, it’s a horror story mystery that reminded me of a more sophisticated and modern spin on Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys. It’s fresh, fast-paced and smart. Can’t wait for book two!
Pitch Green, Book 1 in Dimensions in Death series, written by the Brothers Washburn and published by Jolly Fish Press, is available in hardback, paperback, and eBook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other purveyors of fine literature.
Imagine you wake up in Las Vegas to discover you’re missing hours in a blackout that you fear is the result of a drugged assault. Now imagine that a few months later, just when you’re finding your groove, you get attacked again, but this time you’re rescued by a mysterious stranger who takes you to a remote location and tells you that he’s from the future.
Yeah, Maggie had a tough time with that one, too.
Past, present, and future blend a little in this series and a good portion of the beginning of the novel is taken up with explaining it all. Maggie was scooped from her original timeline and taken to the future where she was part of a rebellion fighting against the big collectives, hive-like mind control groups who have mastered time travel and want to enslave all humans throughout history. She lived and fought with the rebels for a year developing strong bonds as friends, family, and even the love of her life. Maggie got captured during a mission and had her mind erased, so she has no memories of her year with the rebels. Once rescued, the rebels decided that this was the perfect time to return her to her original timeline, resulting in the missing hours and bruises she couldn’t explain back in Las Vegas. Now for her own safety and to protect the ultimate destiny of mankind, she’s been scooped back into the rebel’s timeline. She’s surrounded by people who know her intimately who she doesn’t remember at all, fighting against the collectives in a highly specialized team.
There’s a lot to chew on in this book. There are elements in this series that echo some of the deeper mythologies in classic science fiction series like Dune. Readers who like to get into the nuances of how things work and what makes people tick will enjoy it—it’s an intellectually satisfying read. Once the backstory comes out, the pace picks up substantially and the pay-off’s good.
Persistence of Vision, Book 1 of Interchron, written by Liesel K. Hill and published by Tate Publishing is available in paperback and eBook. Click here for the link. http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-62024-796-9
This week’s blog is an interview with debut author Adrienne Monson whose book Dissension, Book 1 in The Blood Inheritance Trilogy, was published by Jolly Fish Press on Feb. 23, 2013. It’s available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and other fine bookstores.
Okay, Adrienne, let’s start with the tough questions. If you knew you were going to be stranded on a tropical island a la Survivor, which five books would you sneak in your backpack and which five essentials would you kick out to bring them?
This is a tough one, because I’d want to take five different series with me, not just five books. So after thoughtful consideration, I guess I’d go with the following:
- Ender’s Shadow, by Orson Scott Card
- Ransom, by Julie Garwood
- Pale Demon, by Kim Harrison
- The China Bride, by Mary Jo Putney
- Knife of Dreams, by Robert Jordan
As for essentials I’d replace them with, that’s also tough because it depends on what you consider essentials. So here’s what I consider essentials I could live without in order to enjoy a great book:
- Makeup (Who cares if you’re stranded on an island anyway, right?)
- Floss (I’m sure I can figure out a way to make leaves into string or something.)
- Hair accessories (As long as I have a brush, I don’t need anything else.)
- Phone (I doubt I’ll get reception anyway)
- Extra shirts (I’ll just wash the one I’m wearing.)
Yeah, make-up would be the first thing to go for me, too. It’s a great day when I don’t have to put mascara on! Also, thanks for recommendations; there are a couple of books on your list I haven’t read yet that must be awesome. Now if I could only get stranded somewhere with books and chocolate and no cell phone…
With all the many hats you wear—Mom and wife being just two of them—how do you find the time to write?
Don’t remind me! It’s definitely something you have to MAKE time for. If you’re waiting for free time to fall into your lap, it won’t. But I utilize sleeping time. My kids have an early bed time, so I do most of my work then. I also have a fabulous husband that’s more than willing to take the kids out for an hour or two while I’m trying to meet deadlines. But mostly, I just stay up later than the rest of my family to write. Yes, I lose sleep and am looking forward to the day when my youngest will go to school, but I make it work.
I’m a night owl, too. Do you work on one writing project at a time or do you have several irons in the fire?
I try (try!) to stay focused on the one that needs to be turned into the publisher next, but if I get ideas for my next WIP, I will definitely take the time to write notes on that novel so I don’t forget.
Gotta say vampires, here, Lehua! But I am biased. This question is ironic to me because I am a fun, upbeat kind of woman. I am good at thinking positively and don’t really like watching gory movies. However, I obviously have a dark side that emerges when I’m writing. If you’ve read my short stories on my website, you would think I’m seriously twisted. And, I guess I am – my darkness just comes out in an artistic way. As far as how I tap into that, I don’t really. It just rises to the surface as I write. Sometimes, I even disturb myself to the point that I need to watch a comedy after I’ve written a particularly dark scene. (Don’t worry readers, I’m not graphic in my writing or anything, but in my head, I see all the gory details.)
Reminds me of a story I once read about a man who made gruesome art, but was kind. Villagers complained about his art, so he starting making cherubs and became really mean. Maybe we’re letting our inner demons out through our books!
Dissension, Book 1 of the Blood Inheritance Trilogy, was published Feb. 23, 2013. Books 2 and 3 are titled Defiance and Deliverance. What can we look forward to in book 2?
I really don’t want to give much away. I will tell you that both Leisha and Samantha experience a little bit of romance and that they figure out where the prophecy child is. There’s still plenty of action scenes that I hope will keep you turning the pages. That’s all I will give. The rest, you must find out yourself.
Arrgh! And for me patience is not a virtue! Sure you won’t take a bribe? No? You’re really going to make me wait for book 2? Sigh.
Thanks for stopping by, Adrienne. Now get back to writing!
Adrienne Monson, winner of the 2009 Oquirrh’s Writer’s Contest and the Utah RWA’s Great Beginnings, has immersed herself in different kinds of fiction since a young age. She lives in Utah with her husband and two kids, whom she loves with all her heart. She loves Zumba, kickboxing, and weightlifting. She also enjoys yummy foods, so she won’t look like a workout guru.
Keep up to date with Adrienne’s events and writing:
To read my review of Dissension, click here.
What do you do when your very existence is an anathema to you, the love of your life has wanted to kill you for 2,000 years, your stalker ex is back, and you’ve a teenage girl dumped into your lap that can’t go home?
When you’re Leisha, one of the original vampires, you do the most logical thing—foment dissension in the ranks of vampire-dom in the hope of getting your mundane life back.
Dissension, written by debut author Adrienne Monson, takes the reader on a thrill ride spanning kidnapping, torture, murder, blood lust, slavery, government conspiracy, psychic abilities, and hints about a mysterious child—all in Book One of The Blood Inheritance Trilogy.
Fans of vampire lit will find much to like here from an origin mythology to hints of a final destiny. Most interesting is the developing relationships between the characters as they uncover miscommunications and misconceptions about each other that have ruled their actions for 2000 years. With all the conspiracies and chess pieces swirling around, what I really want to know is can Leisha ever get back to being a wife and mother and what’s going to happen to teenage Samantha, Leisha’s thinly veiled substitute for the family she lost?
Guess I’ll have to read book 2 to find out!
Dissension, Book 1 in The Blood Inheritance Trilogy, written by Adrienne Monson and published by Jolly Fish Press is available in hardback and eBook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other purveyors of fine literature.
Today I’m part of a blog hop, officially known as The Next Big Thing. Many thanks to Elsie Park for inviting me to hop in after her. You can check out her website here. Her debut book is called Shadows of Valor and will be available everywhere July 27, 2013! It is going to be great! Can’t wait.
If you’ve never heard of a blog hop, it’s a bit like a game of tag. Writers post about their works and link to other authors ahead and behind them in the chain. So, without further ado–
What is the working title of your next book?
One Shark, No Swim, Book 2 in the Niuhi Shark Saga. It’s currently in editorial review at Jolly Fish Press and will come out late summer/fall 2013. It follows One Boy, No Water.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
The genesis for the series was a scene from Legends of Hawaii that I saw when I was seven years old. In the film a young Hawaiian boy’s shirt is ripped off to reveal gaping shark’s jaws where his back should be—it’s the kind of image that tends to stick with you if you have an overactive imagination.
What genre does your book fall under?
It straddles the line between Middle Grade and Young Adult. Technically, it’s fantasy, but it’s set in modern, every day Hawai’i. Supernatural things happen, but it’s all rather matter of fact. While Zader and his friends are twelve in One Shark, No Swim, the themes developed in the series are universal. It’s PG in content and language, making it appropriate for MG readers, but it wasn’t written specifically for an MG/YA audience. It’s an adventure series that appeals to adults, too, particularly if they’ve lived in Hawai’i.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Jackie Chan. Uncle Kahana, Zader, ‘Ilima, Jay, Char Siu—it doesn’t matter which character; the answer to this question is always Jackie Chan. (Call me!)
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Adopted twelve year old suspects there’s more to his birth family than he ever dreamed and the truth changes everything.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The Niuhi Shark Saga is published by Jolly Fish Press.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About six weeks split over nine months. Bursts of writing punctuated by life and lots of dust gathering.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
In book 2, Zader discovers a way he can take a shower without blistering, he meets both his biological parents (although he doesn’t know it), learns Filipino Kali-style knife fighting from a master, and Uncle Kahana and ‘Ilima don’t see eye to eye on what to tell Zader, Jay, and Char Siu about what’s really going on. And niuhi sharks! Lots of sharks.
And that’s my Next Big Thing! Now here are the fabulous authors I’ve tagged to tell you about their Next Big Thing! They will be posting on 1/30/2013. Enjoy!
Great authors who’ve already posted their Next Big Thing that you shouldn’t miss!
With the launch party for One Boy, No Water just ten days away, I’ve been doing some publicity interviews. (I know!) One of the questions that keeps popping up is about the genesis of the story. People want to know which Hawaiian myth or legend it comes from and if it’s a myth or a legend. Here’s the real scoop.
Those that parse such distinctions define a legend as a story about actual events or people that sometimes include imaginative elements, or as I like to think of them, the stuff that makes the story good. Myths are defined as stories that are considered completely imaginary that attempt to explain the natural world through symbolism. Personally, I think it’s all a matter of cultural bias. One person’s myth is another’s legend. It all depends on world-view. Out of respect, I tend to call all these kinds of stories legends.
With One Boy, No Water and the rest of the Niuhi Shark Saga, there’s been some confusion, especially in the earliest press releases. I don’t think Jolly Fish Press, the publisher, got it initially. There isn’t a Niuhi shark legend in traditional Hawaiian literature, but Hawaiian culture, traditions, and legends do play an important role in the series.
Most cultures have stories about shape-shifters. Throughout the Pacific there are lots of stories about gods and demi-gods who could change form, including human to shark. Niuhi is the Hawaiian word for “shark large enough to eat a human” which I used to describe beings who are really sharks that are self-aware in their role as predators and can appear as people on land. In my imagination I created a backstory where at one point they lived side-by-side with ancient Hawaiians who knew and accepted what they were. After western contact and the fall of the kapu system, the Niuhi moved away and into hiding. In my books only a few people remember the stories and fewer believe, only the ones with ancestral family ties to Niuhi.
To be clear, there is a Hawaiian legend about a boy named Nanaue who is raised as a human but can turn into a shark. Nanaue eats unsuspecting villagers until they unmask and banish him. There are other Hawaiian legends about humans that can turn into sharks that help fishermen and those lost at sea, and even legends about deified ancestors appearing as sharks and protecting family members, all of which influenced the series, but do not define its story arc. The series is not a retelling of Nanaue. Promise.
Where I think the confusion crept in was when I told JFP that Uncle Kahana, the mentor character, would also bring in other Hawaiian legends into storyline, allowing me to share some Hawaiian culture and lore with the rest of the world. I’m talking about Menehunes, ghosts, and other supernatural beings. I think that got twisted a little to imply that the story itself is from a Hawaiian legend.
While it’s being marketed as middle grade and book one is appropriate for that age group, in my mind the whole series is more young adult coming of age and is about eventually choosing to define yourself and how you want to live your life despite what others want you to do. Unknown to Zader is his true nature and the reason he’s been hidden among Uncle Kahana’s family. In One Boy, No Water he gets some strong hints that things are not what he thought they were. After leaving him alone for 12 years, in book 2, his biological family begins to interact with him and more of his true nature rises to the surface. Above all the mystery is a more mundane story about a kid who doesn’t fit in and what choices he and his friends make as they grow up in modern Hawaii.
One Boy, No Water is at its heart a Hawaiian story and like most Hawaiian stories is full of hidden meanings called kaona. Nothing is what it appears to be on the surface. Even Zader’s Hawaiian name is a clue: Kaona-kai, a hidden or concealed sea. It’s my hope that the series is enjoyed by both kinds of readers: the careful readers who search for clues and the deeper kaona and those who would rather just enjoy the ride, taking the saga along the surface all the way to the beach.
Either way, it’s going to be a wild ride!
Jennifer Griffith’s newest novel, Big in Japan, tells the story of Buck Cooper, a Texas gentleman with a heart as large his home state and a body and self-esteem problem to match. What starts as a supporting role in a family business trip to Tokyo ends with Buck staying in Japan training to be a sumo wrestler as the kohai to the Kawaguchi Stable’s star ozeki, Torakiba. Torakiba is the senpai from hell, subjecting Buck as his kohai to humiliating tasks including foot washing and warm watermelon spit. There’s also a love interest, Cho-cho san, who like the butterfly she’s named for flits in and out of Buck’s life, motivating him to prove to himself and the sumo world that he’s got what it takes.
Buck may be big in Japan, but in Hawaii sumo is huge. The first foreign-born non-Japanese sumo champion was Jesse Kuhaulua, fighting name Takamiyama Daigoro. He was born on Maui and his career spanned twenty years from 1964-1984. Growing up in Kahului, we all knew Jesse and followed his career avidly. When he came home to visit family, the whole town came out to greet him. I can still see him in his traditional Japanese attire as he majestically strolled across our school’s parking lot, smiling and waving at us as we peeked out from behind the monkey pod tree. Other Hawaiian-born sekitori followed including Konishiki who earned the rank of ozeki, Akebono who earned the grand champion rank of yokozuna, and my cousin William Tyler Hopkins, fighting name Sunahama Shoji, who earned the rank of juryo 5 before retiring in 1997 at age 25 due to injury.
Since I knew a little about sumo and what it takes to succeed in Japan as a foreign-born wrestler, I was intrigued by Griffith’s premise. While Big in Japan does touch on some of the modern criticisms and controversies in sumo wrestling, at its heart it’s a love story with coming of age themes told with a humorous, light touch. It’s Buck’s story of leaving home in order to find his true self. Westerners will get a taste of some of the cultural differences and an idea of what it takes to be a sumo wrestler, but it’s Buck’s inner and outer transformation combined with his hilarious inner monologue that’s the draw here. Griffith sometimes compares her books to cotton candy—something sweet, light, frothy, enjoyed, and gone, but I think this novel has more weight behind it, more like a makizushi meal than a simple sweet treat.
Big in Japan, written by Jennifer Griffith and published by Jolly Fish Press is available in hardback, trade paperback, and eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other purveyors of fine literature.
Griffith’s blog can be found at: http://www.authorjennifergriffith.com/
For more information about Jolly Fish Press and its titles, please visit: http://www.jollyfishpress.com/