Birthplace: Spokane, Washington, USA
Hobbies: Reading, gardening, photography
Role models: Poet Valerie Worth and fantasy writers Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett
Favorite flower: Daisy
Where I want to visit one day: Tokyo
Motto: Try again!
Birthplace / hometown: Born in Shinagawa, Tokyo. Raised in Kobe, Hyogo, then Onomichi, Hiroshima. After living in Kobe for thirty years, came back to her birthplace, Tokyo.
Hobbies: Writing stories, Cooking, Dressmaking
Translation goals: Smooth translation
Role model: Yaeko Nukada
Favorite flower: Blue Butterfly Bush
Where I want to visit one day: Milano
Motto: Nothing is untranslatable.
Hello. Nice to meet you. My name is Emiko Ayane. I translated two books of yours into Japanese; the first is Runaway Princess,
and the other is a picture book, Water Sings Blue, which was all
written in poetry,
Today, I am very excited to get to know about the things that you enjoyed or struggled in writing these books, and if you have any interesting stories to share with us, particularly from the author’s point of view, I would love to hear that as well.
Oh, thank you! I can tell you that the tricky thing about writing The Runaway Princess was keeping all of the subplots going at once—the witch, the dragon, the bandits, and of course the princes—in connection with what Meg and her friends were up to. I had a great time with those characters. I especially get a kick out of Gorba the witch with her romance novels and heｋr endless parade of exasperating frog princes.
Of course, some ideas just pop up while you’re writing. For example, I was writing the part where Meg is going to use the witch’s potion to make the rope hanging from the tower window invisible so no one will know she’s been climbing in and out. I was writing about her putting the potion on the rope when it flashed into my mind, “What if the whole tower turned invisible?” So I just went with it, and I sat there laughing at my desk. It was such a funny way for the king to finally realize that his daughter was no longer in the tower!
Every single page of Water Sings Blue is delightful and beautiful. Not only are the pictures magnificent and powerful, the skillful story creation and straight forward message conveyed by each poem present strength and richness to the readers’ mind. I feel so blessed to be able to know this book. I am very much interested in learning how this book was born.
Thank you so much, Emiko! I grew up near the beach in Southern California, and my family used to go there during the summer, where we would have picnics and go boogie boarding (a child’s version of surfing). I’ve always loved the ocean, so one day I decided to write a poetry collection about it. I made a long list of ocean animals and related topics such as waves, setting out to write a poem about each one. I tried to think of fun little twists on each animal, like the sea urchin poem, or how to convey their essential natures in just a few words, like the shark poem.
It took me about a year and a half, and I ended up with 80 poems, which my editor whittled down to 23. I did add one poem at the last minute—I was having lunch with a friend and when I told her about the project, she said, “Oh, good! My son loves sea turtles!” At that point, I was already working with my editor, but I did not have a sea turtle poem. I went home from lunch and wrote one. At first the direction I was taking didn’t work in spite of many revisions, so I tried something else and eventually it took off. The sea turtle made it into the book!
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