Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Guest Post with Jesse Q. Sutanto - Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers

Photo Content from Jesse Q. Sutanto

Jesse Q. Sutanto is the award-winning, bestselling author of Dial A for Aunties, Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers, Well, That Was Unexpected, The Obsession, and Theo Tan and the Fox Spirit. The film rights to her women’s fiction, Dial A for Aunties, was bought by Netflix in a competitive bidding war. She has a master’s degree in creative writing from Oxford University, though she hasn't found a way of saying that without sounding obnoxious. Jesse lives in Indonesia with her husband, her two daughters, and her ridiculously large extended family, many of whom live just down the road and provide her with endless inspiration for her books.


What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you? That I am an extremely mediocre person. I’m not saying that to be humble, genuinely, when people who have known me for a long time find out that I am now a successful author, they are SO SHOCKED. Like, flabbergasted. And you know what? I don’t blame them! Because I was completely aimless for a lot of my life. I always knew I wanted to be writer, but even then, I didn’t have the discipline required to get the words down on paper. I would go through months without writing a single word, and of course I had the worst self-esteem and at one point I was so depressed I found it challenging to even get out of bed. Even after I managed to get out depression, I was still very much aimless and had no idea what to do with my life. I knew I wanted to write, but I also knew chances of getting published were slim to none, so I was just really sad and lonely. I didn’t get my publishing deals until I was in my mid-thirties, and I can still remember being in my early twenties and thinking that once the twenties were over, that meant my chances were OVER. I just really want everyone to know that you can start as late as you want and still make it on your own terms. Now, I enjoy people’s shocked reactions when they find out that yes, I have a legit career in publishing, and yes, actually, I do have a Netflix deal, even though I seem so very unimpressive in person. I revel in the fact that in person, I come across as a bubbly airhead, because I’m confident enough in my writing ability to know that my outward appearance doesn’t affect the quality of my writing, and I love challenging people’s perception of what it means to be an author!

My favorite scene has to be when Vera sends a text at 4:30AM to her son to wake up because there’s a whole day for him to seize. Because this is literally what my dad does, and I’m glad that I finally get to bitch about it to the whole world.

  • Vera is 100% based on my mom.
  • My mom approves of Vera.
  • My 4yo saw the book cover and said, “What is Ah Ma (grandma) doing? Why is she peeking like that?”
  • It’s the first cozy mystery I’ve written, and it broke my brain
  • I wrote it in one month. I did my solo writing retreat where I wrote the entire second half of the book in three days. It was the most magical time of my life.
  • My favorite character to write was Sana because I related to her the most, especially the feeling of wanting to create something beautiful and not being able to.
  • I went to UC Berkeley, so being able to set a story in San Francisco was just the best experience.
  • I got the cover for Vera before I finished writing the book.
  • When I had calls with producers for Vera, one of them was openly shocked and said, “OH! You’re so young! We were expecting someone in her sixties!” I was so flattered!
  • Vera has had the best film journey and we hope to be able to announce exciting news on that front very soon.
I have a very fancy writing desk, which is basically a bunch of boardgames stacked on top of one another to make a standing desk. I’m a firm believer that writing should not require expensive tools, so I’m very determined to make any space work for me.

The main character is obviously Vera, who is basically who I want to be when I grow up. She is my mom with the dial turned up to a hundred! Vera does not respect anyone’s boundaries, and she absolutely knows best for everyone, and god help you if you happen to be in her way.

Hmm, can’t think of any. I write really clean. Hahaha I KNOW THIS SOUNDS LIKE BS but really, I can’t think of a scene that was entirely deleted.

It took me ten years to get published. In that time, I avoided telling anyone that I was writing because I was kind of embarrassed by it. It was like a rash or something? I didn’t want to go around telling everyone I had it. It was such a roller coaster. I had multiple agents, a couple of whom were awful and made me question everything I thought I knew about writing. But I also made a bunch of amazing friends through the process, and they’re now basically my family. I’m so thankful for their presence in my life. My best piece of advice to anyone on this journey is to find your people, because my friends were the people who got me through everything!

A lonely shopkeeper takes it upon herself to solve a murder in the most peculiar way in this captivating mystery by Jesse Q. Sutanto, bestselling author of Dial A for Aunties.

Vera Wong is a lonely little old lady--ah, lady of a certain age--who lives above her forgotten tea shop in the middle of San Francisco's Chinatown. Despite living alone, Vera is not needy, oh no. She likes nothing more than sipping on a good cup of Wulong and doing some healthy detective work on the Internet about what her Gen-Z son is up to.

Then one morning, Vera trudges downstairs to find a curious thing--a dead man in the middle of her tea shop. In his outstretched hand, a flash drive. Vera doesn't know what comes over her, but after calling the cops like any good citizen would, she sort of . . . swipes the flash drive from the body and tucks it safely into the pocket of her apron. Why? Because Vera is sure she would do a better job than the police possibly could, because nobody sniffs out a wrongdoing quite like a suspicious Chinese mother with time on her hands. Vera knows the killer will be back for the flash drive; all she has to do is watch the increasing number of customers at her shop and figure out which one among them is the killer.

What Vera does not expect is to form friendships with her customers and start to care for each and every one of them. As a protective mother hen, will she end up having to give one of her newfound chicks to the police?

You can purchase Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JESSE Q. SUTANTO for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Vera Wong's Unsolicited 
Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto.