Today I have Anne Van with me to discuss her debut novel Tokyo Dare!
VW: How long have you been writing Young Adult?
AV: I’ve been writing YA for five years. I love the genre. Seems I never grew up.
VW: Where you did you get inspiration for Tokyo Dare?
AV: I’ve lived in Japan, travel a lot, and met some amazing people. I’m a very curious person, which makes me wonder off the beaten path. This usually leads to wonderful discoveries like secret temples and hidden neighborhoods, but sometimes leads me to some places I’d rather not find like the spot where the village people dump their jars of rotten pickled eggs. Yuck!
VW: What was it like living in Japan?
AV: Scary and amazing at the same time. I didn’t know the language when I first got there. Because my host family lived out in the boonies, not many people spoke English. So I had the resort to hand signals. I also became a speed demon with my English to Japanese dictionary. I had to learn fast to survive. Maps and landmarks are vital in Tokyo, which is a crazy labyrinth of streets and train stations. Japanese people bend over back wards to help you which is awesome. I was lost once and I asked a woman at a small food market for help. She stopped her grocery shopping and led me to exactly where I needed to go. It was a 20 minute walk from the store! This over the top kindness happened too many times to count.
VW: How different where your experiences in Tokyo from your character Erin in Tokyo Dare?
AV: Writers write from life experiences so I pulled from my own time in Japan. But Tokyo Dare is fictionalized so I gave things to Erin that I didn’t have right away when I was in Japan. Like two awesome BFF’s Gina and Setsuko. It took me a lot longer to make new friends than it did for Erin. I wanted her to have advantages I didn’t have. That’s the great thing about fiction you can write your dream version of what happened.
VW: What project are you working on now?
AV: I’m working on book two of the Sushi Chronicle Series. Erin has her dream boyfriend and is doing well in her second semester at Seda Academy. She’s even making progress on her crazy to-do list. She’s moving out of the host family from hell! But just when she thinks she’s settling into her life in Japan a string of events turns her world upside down.
VW: Are you planning a sequel?
AV: Yes, book two will be out next year. Thanks for having me Vicky.
Sixteen-year-old artist, Erin Van Horn, doesn’t know an Unagi Roll from a Kaiser Roll. But on a dare from her best friend, Tori Mukigawa, she wins a spot as an exchange student at a prestigious Tokyo high school. Once in the land of the rising sun, Erin struggles to learn the culture and deal with a host family from hell. Otosan, the father, stops speaking to her after she “murders” his favorite bonsai tree. The mother, Okasan, believes Erin’s evil because she’s left-handed and their son is an Elvis impersonator who is convinced Erin’s the spitting image of Priscilla if only she’d dye her blonde hair black, and become his child bride.
But Erin has a bigger problem than her crazy host family when she faces the ultimate dare from Tori—a to-do list. Racked with guilt for winning the spot that should have gone to her best friend, Erin is determined to complete the list. All she has to do is find a rock star boyfriend, (sure, there’s one on every street corner), apprentice under a famous Japanese artist, (no problem, they’ll be listed in the Tokyo Yellow Pages) and visit Linda’s long lost relatives to find out what’s hidden in the family closet. So what if the only words she knows in Japanese are, “Excuse me eat pretty idiot.”
How hard could it be?
Praise for Tokyo Dare:
“If you are in need of a fun vacation to a foreign country, buy this book. I finished Tokyo Dare feeling like I’d been on a journey overseas to Japan with a spunky high-school girl. Erin meets some hilarious and interesting characters along the way, including a host brother who impersonates Elvis. I laughed. I learned about Japanese customs. I felt like I’d taken a wonderfully long summer break. All for 3.99.”
Anne Van Bio:
Anne Van is an artist, fashionista, turned writer. She has a Masters Degree in Fine Art and attended Waseda University in Tokyo Japan on a scholarship. She has exhibited her artwork all over the United States and one of her works was displayed in a museum in Picasso’s hometown of Malaga, Spain. After several years toiling as a fine artist, she switched gears to pursue another passion, fashion. Anne graduated from FIDM in Los Angeles and designed sportswear for major retailers. All the while she heard stories in her head. So one day she quit fashion and finally put her stories on paper. Since then Anne has published an article in a national magazine and an award winning travel story about her time living in Tokyo, Japan. She has also published short fiction. Anne continues to write the stories that fill her head. She lives in a Victorian home in a historic landmark district in Pasadena, California along with three rescue cats, including one that has six toes, and her TV composer husband who thankfully doesn’t.