Monday, 22 April 2013

Interview with Suzanne Kamata

Funny how Monday sneaks up on us, isn't it? Let's soften the blow to the head Monday tends to deliver, by indulging in a chat with author Suzanne Kamata, author of YA novel GADGET GIRL.

Hi, Suzanne! Welcome to We Do Write. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm an American, originally from Michigan, but I've been living in Japan for the past 25 years. I teach English to Japanese students, and more recently, writing.

We're like two peas in a pod, as I'm also a transplanted American teaching English. *expat high-five* How long have you been writing?

Since childhood. I decided that I wanted to be a writer when I was about six years old, and never came up with anything else. I wrote for my high school newspaper, took creative writing classes in college, and started publishing my short fiction when I was in my early twenties.

Awesome. Tell us about GADGET GIRL. What’s the story about?

Well, here's the back blurb:

Aiko Cassidy is fourteen and lives with her sculptor mother in a small Midwestern town. For most of her young life Aiko, who has cerebral palsy, has been her mother's muse. But now, she no longer wants to pose for the sculptures that have made her mother famous - and have put food on the table. Aiko works hard on her own dream of becoming a great manga artist with a secret identity. When Aiko's mother invites her to Paris for a major exhibition of her work, Aiko at first resists. She'd much rather go to Japan, Manga Capital of the World, where she might be able to finally meet her father, the indigo farmer. When she gets to France, however, a hot waiter with a passion for manga and an interest in Aiko makes her wonder if being invisible is such a great thing after all. And a side trip to Lourdes may just change her life.

Sounds cool. How did the idea of the story come to you?

Initially, I had an idea of writing a story about a mother and a 14-year-old daughter with disabilities taking a trip to Paris together in an effort to bond. This was partly inspired by my fantasies of taking my real-life daughter to Paris when she was about that age (old enough to appreciate the City of Lights). Also, I remember being very difficult and not getting along with my own mother when I was thirteen or fourteen. I wanted to write a mother-daughter story with tension.

My daughter is fourteen, so I know what you mean about tension. Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

I rely on a select group of trusted readers who are also writers. I'm also a member of SCBWI, and I take advantage of critique opportunities at events. AND I got some help from the writers at YALitchat, a great site run by YA author/publisher Georgia McBride. (Which is where I *met* you.)

Yay for connections! Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I'm mostly a pantser, thought I have an idea of where I want to go with a story.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

Finding the time.

I know, right? With all the scientific advancements of the day, you'd think they'd come up with something that gives us more time. Hmph. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

Nothing really. Since becoming a mother, I've become very flexible. I can write just about anywhere, as long as I have a pen and some paper.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

To be able to travel at will, without jet lag or having to wait in long airport lines.

Good choice. I hate airports. What's the weirdest thing you've googled?

Hmmm. Maybe the Lourdes web cam?

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: gadget, gigantic, and grading.

She paused in grading papers to look out the window and saw a gigantic can opener whirling in the air like a helicopter blade, like something that had fallen out of a monster's gadget drawer.

LOL, okay, I'm trying to wrap my head around that image. Great way to break Monday morning tension, that's for sure! Finish this sentence: If I'm not writing, I'm probably ...

trying to get Japanese students excited about using English.

Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

There are so many! Thanks to my parents, my kids, my publishers, SCBWI-Tokyo, YALItchat, the Literary Mama community, my university colleagues, and to everyone who has read my previous books!!

And finally, where can people find you and your book online?

My website is at
Twitter - @shikokusue
Facebook -!/SuzanneKamata (Please like!!)
Amazon -

Suzanne, thanks so much for stopping by the blog. I'll be sure to check out your book!


Brandon Ax said...

Awesome you do such great interviews maybe one day I'll get in one. :P
The book sounds really cool and I have always loved manga.

Dana Carey said...

I recently met Suzanne at a SCBWI conference and enjoyed learning more about her in this interview. GADGET GIRL is going on my 'to be read' list!
(Love the giant can opener!)