Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Iris Yamashita Interview - City Under One Roof

Photo Credit: EF Marton Productions

Born in Missouri, raised in Hawaii and having lived in Guam, California, and Japan, Iris Yamashita was able to experience a diversity of culture while growing up. She studied engineering at U.C. San Diego and U.C. Berkeley and also spent a year at the University of Tokyo studying virtual reality. Her first love, however, has always been fiction writing, which she pursued as a hobby on the side.

Iris submitted her first screenplay to a competition where she was discovered by an agent at the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) who offered to represent her. Her big break came when she was recruited to write the script Letters From Iwo Jima for Clint Eastwood. Letters was named “Best Picture” by both the National Board of Review and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. It received a Golden Globe award for “Best Foreign Language Film” of 2006 and was nominated for 4 Oscars including “Best Picture” and “Best Original Screenplay.”

City Under One Roof is her debut mystery novel set in a tiny Alaskan town where everyone lives in a single high-rise building.

Iris continues to work in Hollywood, developing for both film and streaming media and has also dabbled in writing a musical for a Japanese theme park with Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori. She has taught screenwriting at the University of California, Los Angeles and the American Film Institute.


Greatest thing you learned at school.
What a mind-boggling question to cover my 20 years of schooling! I will say the alphabet—the building blocks of written expression.

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I don’t know if there was any one moment that was a turning point. I do remember that since I was a toddler, I had a dream to be a writer who illustrated my own books. I have never developed or pursued the illustration side of that equation, but the writing persisted.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
It’s always hard to name just one. Growing up it was the Oz books by L. Frank Baum. I was living in Hawaii and I remember it being very hard to get my hands on them. They didn’t have Amazon back then, so I would go to the school library, but they didn’t have all of his books and I would try to see if any of my friends had copies that I could borrow. Oddly, I haven’t read a lot of books in my genre because I hadn’t realized it was my genre until I started writing it! A recent favorite of mine and I’m sure of many others is “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I think being published in itself is the most rewarding experience. Coming from the screenwriting world, I have written so many screenplays that have never seen the light of day even if I had been paid to write the script, so it means so much to be able to see a finished product that other people can read.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Storytelling is a shared expression—whether a book, a movie, a song or a piece of art. It provides a way of connecting and can also be an entertaining way to pass on our truths or impart our histories. In the old days and possibly still today, storytelling was a way to make political and social commentaries using metaphorical or fictional characters to avoid getting your head cut off.

Can you tell us when you started CITY UNDER ONE ROOF, how that came about?
The idea came about 8 years ago when I was thinking of a possible idea for a streaming series. I wrote a pilot and outlined the characters and a couple of seasons. I had worked on it for so long that I thought I had enough to write a book. I started writing the book version about 4 years ago on and off in my spare time.

A stranded detective tries to solve a murder in a tiny Alaskan town where everyone lives in a single high-rise building, in this gripping debut by an Academy Award–nominated screenwriter.

When a local teenager discovers a severed hand and foot washed up on the shore of the small town of Point Mettier, Alaska, Cara Kennedy is on the case. A detective from Anchorage, she has her own motives for investigating the possible murder in this isolated place, which can be accessed only by a tunnel.

After a blizzard causes the tunnel to close indefinitely, Cara is stuck among the odd and suspicious residents of the town—all 205 of whom live in the same high-rise building and are as icy as the weather. Cara teams up with Point Mettier police officer Joe Barkowski, but before long the investigation is upended by fearsome gang members from a nearby native village.

Haunted by her past, Cara soon discovers that everyone in this town has something to hide. Will she be able to unravel their secrets before she unravels?

You can purchase City Under One Roof at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you IRIS YAMASHITA for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita.


  1. well I am disabled so if I can step into the shower I need my husbands help. It has been a month at one point but I get cleaned up every day, I just am not steady enough to stand for long.