"When Emiko is not writing, she is reading. Most of her friends are imaginary. Before she became a writer she was an entomologist (fancy name for bug catcher), a candle maker, a florist, and most recently a teacher. NYT Bestselling author of @reesesbookclub pick TOKYO EVER AFTER; She lives in Washington with her husband and children (unruly twins). She loves the rain."
1. In this book, readers can look forward to Izumi’s parent’s wedding, the royal wedding we’ve all been waiting for. A lot of the book centers on preparing for the wedding. What can you tease about those scenes?
Yes! This book is full of love stories and one of them is the second-chance romance between Izumi’s mother, Hanako, and her father, the Crown Prince of Japan, i.e. Mak. There are several sweet poignant moments between Hanako and Mak. We even get to hear about their pre-Izumi college days—how they met, fell in love and eventually apart.
2. One of the major conflicts in the book is that The Imperial House Council must vote to approve of Izumi’s parent’s marriage. In order to convince the council to approve, Izumi does her best to play the perfect princess. Something really endearing about Izumi is the way she so deeply cares for her family, and one of the strong themes is the sacrifices people are willing to make for their family. What do you hope to communicate to readers through Izumi’s relationship with her family?
One of Izumi’s core motivations is her mother. She desperately wants her mom to have her own happily ever after. Family is such a complicated thing and I don’t think there is any right way to be a family. But in this case, in this book, Izumi’s driving motivation is her family, namely her mother. It is one of Izumi’s greatest strengths, I think, how much she loves her mother, but it also becomes one of her weaknesses too. The sacrifice she makes begins to eclipse her own growth.
3. A major part of the book’s narrative are the waka poems interspersed throughout it and poetry plays a role in the way that Izumi expresses herself. Can you speak to the significance of poetry and the role it plays in the book?
Waka poetry has been a tradition of the imperial family for centuries. In Tokyo Ever After Izumi used as an entry point to Japanese culture, it was also a way her and her bodyguard eventually turned boyfriend, Akio, communicated. Izumi continues to use waka poetry in Tokyo Dreaming and she uses it as an outlet to explore her identity, her conflicts and emotions.
4. Something that Izumi and her tutor Eriku share throughout the book is their love of music. What was the significance of music throughout Tokyo Dreaming and the role it plays in the characters’ lives? Did you listen to music when you were writing?
I listen to a lot of music when I am writing. In fact, I have theme songs for books, chapters, scenes etc. that I will listen to on loop. Music for Eriku and Izumi very much reflects their artistic souls. They’re both creative types and one way they channel that energy is through music.
5. Who was your favorite character to write in this book besides Izumi? If you were to write a spinoff of the duology, which character’s story would you explore?
Honestly, I’d love to write Hanako and Mak’s story. I started writing a novella about their college years, some of the stories made it into Tokyo Dreaming.
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