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How has creating these stories stretched you as a writer?
The greatest challenges were writing faster and juggling the books. Books 1 and 2 were due in December of 2015, book 3 due in April 2016, and book 4 due in December of 2016.
🙂 * What inspired Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen, and how did you go about developing Jasmine’s character?
In 2010, I came across a newspaper article about a multigenerational Japanese American family who got together every New Year’s to make mochi (a chewy rice treat) the traditional way, by pounding steamed sweet rice into a sticky mass and rolling them into balls.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the family and how fun it must have been to make mochi together like that. Traditionally, men pounded mochi while women rolled mochi. She was persistent and I could no longer ignore her.
As for stretching me as a writer, I think it made me realize that I could work faster. For books 3 and 4, I sent Grace earlier drafts than I would have had I been querying/subbing.I feel like we work well together and she truly helps me be a better writer.I’m thinking Jasmine Toguchi is the first early chapter book series to have a Japanese American girl as the main character — very exciting (and about time)!When I was growing up, I loved reading books like by Jeanne Watatsuki Houston, about Jeanne and her family and their experience being interned during World War II due to their race.While the book interested me, I didn’t directly identify with the characters.