How and when did you get started as a writer?
I started writing short mystery stories when I was about ten or eleven years old. My favorite writer was Caroline Keene, author of the Nancy Drew mystery books. I was so intrigued with her mysteries that I was motivated to write my own stories. Of course, nothing became of them, but the seed was firmly planted in my mind. Almost 50 years later, the dormant seed sprouted and my first book Memoirs of an American Housewife in Japan was published.
How do you usually find your ideas?
Believe it or not, my best ideas come to me while I’m getting ready for bed. Sometimes when I’m just dropping off to sleep, a sudden thought races through
my mind and jolts me awake. I’ve learned to keep paper and pencil by my
Did you ever get any rejections?
If yes, how did you react to them?
Oh, yes, yes, many. At first I felt dejected
and depressed. In fact with my first rejection letter, I didn’t know what
the publisher meant when he wrote “Sorry, nice writing but your story is not a good fit.” A good fit for what? I wondered. I guess because I’m
a Taurus, I kept at it and persevered under the weight of all those rejection slips.
Tell us about your books. What was your
My first book, Memoirs of an American Housewife
in Japan, tells about my two and one-half years living in Japan.
My husband was offered a position to join a multinational project in Japan. We talked it over and he accepted, not knowing what the future held for us. We lived in a small town about 75 miles northwest of Tokyo. My neighbors were from the European Union, Russia,
Canada, Japan and America. I was completely ignorant of Japanese social behavior
and committed many faux pas, especially when visiting the homes of my newly-acquired Japanese friends. Life in Japan was a
challenge. Many things were so different from what we were accustomed to in the
states, but with the help of our Japanese and fellow expatriate friends, we prevailed.
What inspired you to write this book?
So many friends and relatives asked me “Is Japan as beautiful and mysterious as the travel brochures
claim?” The answer is both yes and no.
There are so many misconceptions about Japan. I thought I had better set the record straight by writing about my own experiences
and let readers decide.
How long did it take you to write it?
It took me about a year to write the book. I
had no notes, no diary, nor letters sent home to remind me. The experiences just
kept popping in my mind, and at times it seemed like I couldn’t type fast enough to get them on paper, so to speak. It was like reliving my life in Japan
all over again. Strangely enough I don’t think I could write that book
today. After ten years, the memory is fading, but not forgotten.
What are the major challenges that you have faced in your career?
My main challenge now is to convince American publishers that the readership in this
country would accept a historical novel about Greek freedom fighters fighting against the Ottoman Empire.
The Ottoman Turks occupied Greece
for four hundred years. I’ve had several agents and publishers write and
say that frankly they’re not interested in the subject matter and it would be a hard sell. Since I’m a stubborn Taurus, I refuse to give up.
Has the Internet helped you in your writing career?
The Internet has been a great source of information for my project. It saves me precious time from having to go to the library or to a bookstore; not that I haven’t
done both. I’ve also meet on-line some knowledgeable people who have been
very helpful and encouraging.
What do you advise new writers to do?
often as you can, preferably every day even if it’s just a few lines. Those
few sentences eventually add up into a best seller. I also find it helpful to
read all kinds of genres regardless of their subject. When you’re not writing,
read. Find an author whom you admire. Don’t
copy her, but learn from her style, be yourself and write. Join a reading group
or subscribe to a literary magazine. I can never emphasize enough to write, write,
write and to read, read, read. If you find that enjoyable and rewarding, then
you know you want to be a writer.