Updated: CONGRATULATIONS APRIL MORELOCK for winning the contest!

Turning Japanese
April 14, 2009
St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN-10: 0312378807
ISBN-13: 978-0312378806

Meet Lisa Falloya, an aspiring half-Japanese, half-Italian American manga artist who follows her bliss by moving to Tokyo to draw the Japanese-style comics she's been reading for years. Leaving behind the comforts of a humdrum desk job and her workaholic fiancĂ©e, Lisa has everything planned-- right down to a room with a nice Japanese family-- but hasn't taken into account that being half-Asian and enthusiastic isn't going to cut it. Faced with an exacting boss and a conniving “big fish” manga author, Lisa risks her wedding, her friends, and her fears for a shot at making it big.

**Please reply to this post if you have any questions or comments for Cathy and you’ll be added to our contest drawing to win an autographed copy of TURNING JAPANESE. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, May 5th.**


First off, I’ve been a fan of yours for a while and had the pleasure of meeting you at my local chapters and at conferences. Your writing is very emotional and your characters are engaging. I’m happy you’re able to join us today. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions and our reader’s questions.

You’ve started your career as a Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction author and recently re-branded yourself by writing incredibly sensual stories that are contemporary interpretations of fairy tales (i.e. Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast). How did you come up with the ideas and what propelled you to take this direction?

I have always enjoyed fairy tales, and I love taking classic stories and “twisting” them, keeping recognizable elements, and then really distorting the results. The bottom had dropped out of Chick Lit, and I was casting around for something that I could get revved up about, and then I got the ideas for the Avon Red Trilogy. I’ve got a Snow White in a Warren-Jaffe-styled compound, Sleeping Beauty in a coma and the Beast hooking up with a woman from a Russian mail order bride family. It was a blast.

Has the transition to change genres/direction been a difficult one for you?

It’s definitely been challenging. I think it’s good to experiment: it keeps your writing fresh. Still, I’m not sure I’ll be doing more romantic erotica. I don’t have the right mind-set for it, and my natural plot and theme sensibilities don’t lend themselves to the level of sensuality erotica readers expect (and rightfully deserve.) Having said that, I think they’re really solid stories, and I’ll miss their world. Hopefully, I can translate the valuable lessons I’ve learned to my next project.

How do you feel about the publishing industry viewing Chick Lit as a dead genre?

What do you think of Chick Lit authors all gravitating toward the Young Adult market? Personally, I think it is a great jump because it’s nice to see kids take an interest in reading again.

I love YA, so I don’t begrudge them – in fact, I think that they’re coming out with some of the best fiction around, lately. Having said that, I am here to announce: Chick Lit is making a comeback! It’s quiet rumblings so far, but with the economy the way it is, I think that we’re about to see a swing from angsty tear-jerkers to romantic comedy. I don’t know if conspicuous spending and “shopaholic” stuff will fly, necessarily, but I do think that the basic chick lit sensibility of humorous women’s fiction is on its way back. You heard it here first!

How tumultuous was your writing journey? Who or what gives you the strength to keep going?

My writing journey has been an adventure. My biggest obstacle has been myself, honestly – I get writer’s block and depressions, usually tied in with confusion about where my career should be going. If I’m in the wrong place or writing with only an eye to the market, I wind up screwing myself. (Only took me ten years to figure that out!) The stories themselves give me the strength to keep going. A truly beautiful plotline, driven by wonderful characters, draws me back to my computer more than anything.

How many books do you write a year and what have you seen the most results in doing promotions?

It depends. I generally write two or three books a year. As far as promotions, I think Romance Sells is good to get your book on the shelves, and otherwise online is the way to go. Guest blog, social networking, get reviews. Everything else hasn’t really had a great return on investment.

Do you have a posse you write with? Do you suggest critique partners or beta readers?

I have a wonderful group of writer friends that I sometimes critique with, just starting stages. I also have two friends who do a weekly check in online (they’re in Northern Cal and Vancouver). Every Tuesday, we email each other our goals, and how we did on the previous week’s goals. Accountability helps enormously. I’d suggest critique partners just to have that sense of stability and to get to know the abilities of the people reading your work.

What is the most impulsive adventure or experience you’d done, and what did you learn about yourself?

When I turned 30, I went on a “vision quest” camping experience in the Mojave. This was for my birthday in January. It involved going out to the deep desert, picking an isolated camping site, and then being by yourself, fasting, for three days and three nights. I learned two things: one, that I really suck at fasting, and two, that apparently even in three days of absolute silence, without cell phone or iPod or any novels to read, in some of the most barren yet beautiful country on earth… even then, my mind does not shut up. Apparently, I’m anti-Zen!

You mentioned that the latest release TURNING JAPANESE is a very dear project for you. Can you tell us why? What do you want readers to take away from it?

I’m Vietnamese-Irish-American, and I’ve written a lot of Asian characters, especially for Chick Lit. I was thrilled with TURNING JAPANESE because I got to write about manga, the Japanese comic books I’ve enjoyed so much, and I got to write a character who is hapa, or half-Asian. It’s a different sensibility, being multi-racial, and I think the book gets that experience across. Also, I loved visiting Tokyo and getting the opportunity to write about the fascinating culture there.

If you were a nail polish, what would it be called and why?

Any other year, I would be brainstorming gothic names and envisioning myself some dramatic name like Blood Noir or Lethal Orchid or some such. Right now, I’m in a transition phase in my writing. I think I’d be called Blush Naked: I’m really trying to get as transparent as possible, emotionally, in my writing. Scaring the hell out of me, but fingers crossed on the results.

What projects you’re working on and what do we expect to see from you in the future?

I’m completing a three-book miniseries for Harlequin Blaze, called THE PLAYERS’ CLUB… sort of Dead Poets’ Society meets Fight Club. A lot of fun! The last of my Avon Red trilogy, ENSLAVE: THE TAMING OF THE BEAST, comes out in October. Finally, and this is pretty hush, I’m working on a paranormal series that literally keeps me up nights. I’m really excited about it…

Tell us about your book TURNING JAPANESE? Can you give us an excerpt?

TURNING JAPANESE is about a woman who wins a year-long internship to a manga publisher in Tokyo. I love this book! People can read the first scene here, on my website: http://www.cathyyardley.com/bookshelf/japanese.htm.

Any parting words for our readers or important event details?

I’m on Facebook and Twitter… just look for Cathy Yardley. I’m a social network junkie! :) And thanks for the interview.


Cathy Yardley needs to get out more. When not writing or playing with her son, she is probably cruising the Internet, sleeping or watching D-list movies and adding to her unnatural mental store of character-actor trivia. She can hum along with all the theme songs on Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim" and is learning Japanese from anime. She considers Daria a positive role model. Her family is considering performing an intervention for her addiction to pop culture. Email any time... she ought to be sleeping, but let's face it. She's online. :)

Website: www.cathyyardley.com

Blog(s): www.cathyyardley.com/blog, deadlinehellions.blogspot.com

Other online URLs: www.novelcritiques.com (my critique business, specializing in queries and synopses.)

Comments (12)

On May 4, 2009 at 9:39 AM , booklover1335 said...

Hi Cathy,
I am so glad you don't think Chick Lit is dead, especially more humourous romances.

Sofie Kinsella and Meg Cabot have a soft spot in my heart and I loved them because they were romantic comedies (though I have been reading more steamy books lately).

I read all types of books, from paranormal to erotic romance. My only critiria is that it be a great story. Turning Japenese sounds really good, and will be adding it to my TBR list.

Good Luck,

On May 4, 2009 at 11:14 AM , Jax Cassidy said...

I have a couple of Cathy's books on my TBR. I love the fairytale spins and I can't wait to dig into Ravish.

Glad that Chick Lit will be back :)

On May 4, 2009 at 11:32 AM , Cathy Yardley said...

Thanks for the comments! I have so many favorite chick lit authors, and I can't think of a better time to laugh out loud while reading. Jax, hope you enjoy Ravish! :)

On May 4, 2009 at 11:59 AM , Anonymous said...

Hi Cathy, I am excited to read this new book. I recently discovered manga at my local library. Your journey sounds exciting and inspirational.


Lilah Rune

On May 4, 2009 at 12:01 PM , Sierra Wolfe said...

I'm also glad that chick lit is making a comeback. I love to read humorous stories.

Great interview. Loved the question about which nail polish you would be.

On May 4, 2009 at 12:07 PM , JoAnnAinsworth said...

Great to see your books doing so well, Cathy. I remember when we were both SFA-RWA members, struggling to get our writing noticed and our books published.

I was in Japan when I was 28 years old and taking a trip around the world by myself. I’d been working for physicists at U.C.-San Diego. One had family in Tokyo. He gave me a letter of introduction and they treated me royally, taking me to all the tourist sites.

One of the sons had met a young woman at their employer’s ski resort. She lived in Kyoto. Since Kyoto was on my itinerary, he phoned her several times over the next few days and while I was visiting her home. When I returned to the U.S. three and a half months later, I got a letter from them saying they were going to be married. I was delighted to be Cupid’s bow to their love story.

OUT OF THE DARK, 978-1-60504-277-0(http://www.joannsmithainsworth.com/reviews.shtml)

On May 4, 2009 at 12:14 PM , Kelly Moran said...

i agree with sierra. gotta have humor, too. sounds great, guys! looks like a wonderful read.
i interview on my blog, too.

On May 4, 2009 at 1:20 PM , Cathy Yardley said...

Great story, JoAnn! And it's great to see how many people really like humorous writing. I've got some favorite authors that make me laugh out loud in paranormal (Jim Butcher, for example, and Sherrilyn Kenyon and JR Ward have some zingers now and then) but I miss having a straight up LOL RomCom, like Jenny Crusie used to write. :)

On May 4, 2009 at 1:20 PM , Anonymous said...

I love your books. This will be a definite buy for me!!! What a great idea. In 2006, I started getting into Korean and Japanese music and movies and there are so few Asian heros and heroines around. And taking a half-Asian take on this will really make it interesting.

Excellent. Jax knows the best people. :>

April Morelock

On May 4, 2009 at 1:32 PM , Phoebe Jordan said...

I have a all of Cathy Yardley's Harlequin Blaze novels and loved them all. Turning Japenese sounds very intriguing and I will be putting it on my wishlist.

On May 4, 2009 at 3:52 PM , Jeannie Lin said...

I have a special spot for fiction with Asian characters and I know it's going to be the next "big thing". ;)

"Turning Japanese" sounds absolutely fresh and fascinating. I want to read it just to revisit Tokyo. I spent two "Lost in Translation" days there several years ago.

On May 4, 2009 at 6:16 PM , Cathy Yardley said...

I try to put an Asian character in all my chick lit. They are under-represented, and often stereotypical. Being half-Asian is a weirdly special condition (I think), because other ethnic groups assume you're Asian, and Asians know you're not quite, so you live in this gray area culturally. It can be fun, though. People always assume my brother is Hispanic and will walk up to him and speak Spanish. I'm hoping TURNING JAPANESE captures that: the ability to take something that could be seen as awkward, and make it into a strength. :)

Thanks for your comments!