Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Sara Fujimura Interview - Faking Reality

Photo Content from Sara Fujimura

SARA FUJIMURA is an award-winning young adult author and creative writing teacher. She is the American half of her Japanese-American family, and has written about Japanese culture and raising bicultural children for such magazines as Appleseeds, Learning Through History, East West, and Mothering, as well as travel-related articles for To Japan With Love. Her self-published young adult novels include Tanabata Wish and Breathe. She lives in Phoenix with her husband and children.

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Tor Teen (July 13, 2021)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 320 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1250204100
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1250204103


“A rich, emotionally layered story.....Wonderful.” ―NPR

“This book is like a warm hug filled with all the things I love. I started smiling from page one and couldn’t put it down.” ―Courtney Milan

“Whether your first ice skating romance was The Cutting Edge or Yuri!!! On Ice, you will absolutely love this book. Full of complicated family relationships, sparkling friendships, and a completely delicious romance, Every Reason We Shouldn’t is an uplifting love song to everyone who’s ever lost their way, and then had the courage to find it again.” ―Lindsay Ribar, author of Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies

“Sure to take the gold.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Readers will enjoy the well-developed characters, witty dialogue, and cringe-worthy romantic fumbles right through to the awfully neat, but very happy ending.” ―School Library Connection

“Compelling... an obvious choice for fans of classic love stories that play out on the ice, but also for readers looking for a nuanced story of self-discovery.” ―Booklist

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
I was on my high school’s Odyssey of the Mind team with my sister and a couple of our friends. There were two parts to the competition. During the bigger, hands-on, mechanical component, I was a dancing Nereid (don’t ask). I was also part of our three-person team for the lightning round, verbal, problem-solving, brainteaser part. I don’t think we won our local competition, but I had a lot of fun bringing my “secret sauce” to the team effort. Also, to this day, when I need to figure out a problem, I call upon “OM Sara” to spitball a bunch of potential solutions. I haven’t had to dance my way out of a situation yet, but it’s in my back pocket in case I need it.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I have some cool stuff bubbling here in Phoenix. The biggest is supporting FAKING REALITY’s release on July 13. It’s going to be a double feature in some ways because my last book with Tor Teen, EVERY REASON WE SHOULDN’T, launched March 3, 2020, just in time for the country to go into lockdown. When I’m not doing promo for these two books, I have a couple of other projects percolating. I just signed the contract to have my first book, TANABATA WISH, turned into an audiobook. Japan-based voiceover artist Caitlin Kelly, who recorded EVERY REASON WE SHOULDN’T, will be lending her voice to this new project too. The graphic novel version (which I want to do in Japanese manga style) of TANABATA WISH is also in the works. And finally, I have started the first draft of the companion novel to EVERY REASON WE SHOULDN’T, which will be about aspiring roller derby queen Annabelle “Mack Truck” MacIntosh’s summer before her senior year.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
EVERY REASON WE SHOULDN’T launched two weeks before America went into lockdown and fell into the COVID Abyss with most of the books from the Spring 2020 catalog. Despite that, my little book was named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2020. It was a huge surprise and something I will be shamelessly bragging about for eternity.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Because it assures us that we aren’t alone and connects us all as humans. Did you know that there are only seven stories in the world?

That’s why we can consume stories from around the world featuring people who are nothing like us, and yet we still deeply connect with the characters on a subconscious level.

Can you tell us when you started FAKING REALITY, how that came about?
FAKING REALITY was the story I didn’t know I had in me. I brain-barfed out the first draft in 2019, along with bits and pieces of two other books. This one was tagged “It” by Tor Teen as my follow-up book. As I had copious amounts of free time in 2020, I was able to bring this project to life quicker than any of my previous books.

I love the 80s movie SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL (I aspire to be as cool as Mary Stuart Masterson’s character Watts) and was fascinated by my friend Kara McDowell’s YA book JUST FOR CLICKS. It’s one thing when you try to transform yourself into a social media influencer to earn money. It’s another thing when you can’t opt-out of your family’s public life and have to grow up on TV (think of the Jenner sisters). Now that Dakota’s family’s HGTV show—which she’s been on since literally the day she was born—is coming to an end, Dakota needs to figure out who she really is outside of the spotlight. Leo is also an essential cog in his family’s business, a struggling restaurant. They both may work in the family business, but their realities are very different.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
“Wow, I need to go eat some Japanese food now.” Ha ha ha. After all, FAKING REALITY is my foodiest YA book yet.

All kidding aside, I hope readers will take the time to unpack some of the serious issues woven into this otherwise fun, feel-good book, including the biggest one: consent. From adoring fans wanting to hug her to navigating her first romantic relationship to The Network trying to manipulate her truth, Dakota has the consent problem handed to her multiple times and in many different ways throughout the book.

What part of Dakota and Leo did you enjoy writing the most?
I loved playing with the concept of optics versus reality throughout the book, but it shows up the most with Dakota and Leo and their slowly maturing relationship. For example (no spoilers), what Leo actually says to Dakota at the end of the Homecoming Carnival stunt versus what people assume he said.

If you could have written one book in history, what book would that be?
BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA by Katherine Paterson. I distinctly remember my elementary school librarian reading this book to us from her rocking chair while all the kids crowded around her. She refused to read us the ending though, because she said it made her cry every time. Well played, ma’am, because then we ALL wanted to read the ending for ourselves.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
All of my contemporary YA books have at least a small crossover. You’ll see Sky (TANABATA WISH) in EVERY REASON WE SHOULDN’T during the Wisteria Village* Restaurant scene. You will see a wink to EVERY REASON WE SHOULDN’T in FAKING REALITY near the very end. Because all three books are at least partially set in Phoenix, I would like to build out something like Becky Albertalli’s Simonverse eventually. In fact, if I could put one or more of my characters into the Simonverse, I would be in writer fangirl heaven.

*I named the restaurant Wisteria Village because Fuji = Wisteria and Mura = Village.

Tell me about a favorite event of your childhood.
I went to a sleep-away Girl Scout camp for a week each summer with my sister. Canoeing. Swimming. Singing. Making crafts. Riding horses every day. That week was the highlight of my summer.

Best date you’ve ever had?
Maybe not the best date, but one of the weirdest dates I’ve been on happened recently. My husband is a HUGE train nerd (to the point that his nickname is Sheldon Cooper, as in the BIG BANG THEORY character), so when our original plans fell through, we rode Phoenix’s limited light rail line from one end to the other. It was kind of fun in a simplistic way. Then we had fancy taiyaki ice cream afterward. I am easily bribed with Japanese sweets.

What was the first job you had?
During part of high school, I worked as a camp counselor at a summer Girl Scout day camp in Virginia. I loved it!

What was a time in your life when you were really scared?
I seriously thought I was going to die one time while hiking. I am pretty healthy and know how to hike. I was a Girl Scout leader for a decade. I’ve lived in Phoenix for almost 20 years and know how dangerous the heat can be. That day, I vastly overestimated my skills and couldn’t get my heart rate down. I ended up curled up in the shade of a cactus in the middle of the trail with too little water and too far to go. We hadn’t seen anybody else on the trail for over an hour (because WE shouldn’t have been on the trail in that heat), and our cell service was spotty. Obviously, we made it back. Thankfully, it was on my own two feet and not by medivac. I didn’t go hiking for several years after that. One good thing about the pandemic was that my family started hiking together. I’m still overly cautious, but getting out for some shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) has done wonders for my family’s mental health during the pandemic.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
I’d still pick the 1980s. Yes, we had many of the same problems that teens have now, like bullying. But I feel for today’s teens who have to navigate trolls online, school shootings, and pandemics on top of the universal teen suffering.

First Heartbreak?
Wow, I’m going to have to dig deep for that one because it has been such a long time. I had more than one relationship fall apart because of distance. I think that’s a very realistic teen experience. And for seasoned adults, too. That nothing specific happened to break you up, but when you had to choose between the person and a new opportunity (like college or a new job), you picked the opportunity even when it broke your heart to do so.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers, what would it be?
You are making history right now. When I was doing research for BREATHE (about the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic), I read diaries, letters, local newspapers, postcards from soldiers, and even watched videos (made much later) of firsthand accounts from survivors. One hundred years from now, people will look back at this time and wonder what it was like. Leave your mark behind.

Faking Reality = FR
Every Reason We Shouldn’t = ERWS
Tanabata Wish = TW
Breathe = B

Phoenix, AZ
Likes: Industrial design and functional builds, power tools, and the Japanese TV show Kitsune Mask.
Dislikes: High heels, inauthentic people, and being forced to eat squid-on-a-stick on camera.
Secret: I can’t stand being in Leo’s Friend Zone anymore, but I may lose my BFF if I tell him the whole truth.

Phoenix, AZ
Likes: Skateboarding, Kitsune Mask, and videogames.
Dislikes: Being in the spotlight, not having any free time, and working way too hard for too little money in his family’s restaurant.
Secret: I’m going to Japan this summer. I’ll tell my parents…eventually.

Phoenix, AZ
Likes: Making videos, Japanese culture, and finding all the loopholes in the school dress code.
Dislikes: School dress codes, gender conformity, and bullies.
Secret: I use my over-the-top personality as a defense mechanism to protect myself and my close friends.

Phoenix, AZ
Likes: Figure skating, creating skating choreography, and going to roller derby bouts with Mack.
Dislikes: The ridiculous stuff that “normal” high school students stress out over, not being able to skate like she did before she hit The Puberty Wall, and having to fend for herself all the time.
Secret: What if the trolls are right? What if I am washed up at sixteen?

Arlington, VA
Likes: Short track speed skating, land training with Mack and the Surly Gurls, and doing hydroblades and other skating stunts with Olivia.
Dislikes: Losing, injuries, and how people react when he says that skating is more important than school.
Secret: What if I don’t have what it takes to make it to the Olympics? I don’t know how to be a “normal” high school student.

Phoenix, AZ
Likes: Roller derby bouts, all kinds of skating, and physics.
Dislikes: Baby Daddy drama, fixing the ill-tempered Slushie machine, and not getting into Stanford University.
Secret: What if I peaked in high school, and it’s all downhill from here?

Phoenix, AZ
Likes: Baking, obento-making, and learning about Japanese language/culture.
Dislikes: Doing homework during the summer, how she and her BFF are growing apart, and the challenges of long-distance relationships.
Secret: I feel like a fish out of water in Japan. But after this mind-blowing summer, maybe it’s the pond back home that is too small for me now.

Los Angeles, CA
Likes: The perks of being #1 Grandson, playing baseball, and going to Chunichi Dragons professional baseball games.
Dislikes: His language limitations, his parents’ dissolving marriage, and being a disappointment to his grandparents.
Secret: I blame myself for what happened last summer. I don’t know if I will ever be able to make it up to Obaasan.

Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA, 1918
Likes: Needlepoint, learning basic medical skills from her doctor father, and besting Marco at those skills.
Dislikes: Kit’s antagonistic suffragist agenda, being told that women can’t be surgeons, and people who discount Marco because of his station in Philadelphia society.
Secret: What if I have to spend the rest of my life in this gilded cage? It might be safe, but it is also suffocating.

Little Italy, Philadelphia, PA
Likes: Showing Virginia the wonders of the Ninth Street Market in Little Italy, studying basic medical skills with Dr. Jackson, and breaking the status quo.
Dislikes: His brother fighting on the front lines in Europe, having to go to night school so he can work during the day, and all the Rittenhouse Square people who look down their noses at him because he is an Italian immigrant.
Secret: What if I have to give up my dream of medical school and be the Jacksons’ chauffeur for the rest of my life?


My Big Fat Greek Wedding meets Some Kind of Wonderful meets Kara McDowell’s Just for Clicks with diverse characters, perfect for readers looking for feel-good YA romance and those who like “clean teen” reads

Dakota McDonald swore after “The Great Homecoming Disaster” that she’d never allow her romantic life to be a plot line in her parents’ HGTV show again. But when the restaurant run by the family of her best friend (and secret crush), Leo, is on the line, Dakota might end up eating her own words.

Leo Matsuda dreams of escaping his small town Arizona life and the suffocating demands of working in his family’s restaurant, but the closer he gets to his goal—thanks to the help of his best friend (and secret crush) Dakota—the more reasons there are for him to stay.

You can purchase Faking Reality at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you SARA FUJUMURA for making this giveaway possible.
5 Winners will receive a Copy of FAKING REALITY by Sara Fujimura.
JULY 12th MONDAY Twirling Book Princess EXCERPT
JULY 14th WEDNESDAY Living in a Bookworld EXCERPT
JULY 15th THURSDAY Movies, Shows, & Books EXCERPT
JULY 16th FRIDAY TTC Books and More REVIEW

JULY 19th MONDAY We Live and Breathe Books REVIEW
JULY 21st WEDNESDAY I Heart Fictional People REVIEW
JULY 21st WEDNESDAY #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog REVIEW
JULY 23rd FRIDAY Casia's Corner REVIEW
JULY 23rd FRIDAY Thindbooks Blog REVIEW


Post a Comment