TOKYO DARE (The Sushi Chronicles) by Anne Van
Young adult contemporary
Sixteen-year-old artist, Erin Van Horn, doesn’t know an Unagi Roll from a Kaiser Roll. But on a dare from her best friend, Tori Mukigawa, she wins a spot as an exchange student at a prestigious Tokyo high school. Once in the land of the rising sun, Erin struggles to learn the culture and deal with a host family from hell. Otosan, the father, stops speaking to her after she “murders” his favorite bonsai tree. The mother, Okasan, believes Erin’s evil because she’s left-handed and their son is an Elvis impersonator who is convinced Erin’s the spitting image of Priscilla if only she’d dye her blonde hair black, and become his child bride.
But Erin has a bigger problem than her crazy host family when she faces the ultimate dare from Tori—a to-do list.Racked with guilt for winning the spot that should have gone to her best friend, Erin is determined to complete the list. All she has to do is find a rock star boyfriend, (sure, there’s one on every street corner), apprentice under a famous Japanese artist, (no problem, they’ll be listed in the Tokyo Yellow Pages) and visit Tori’s long lost relatives to find out what’s hidden in the family closet. So what if the only words she knows in Japanese are, “Excuse me eat pretty idiot.” How hard could it be?
A Japanese guy in his early twenties with a mop of long hair and a goatee blocked my way. Dressed in a black leather jacket and skinny jeans, all he needed was a guitar, and the rocker look would be complete. I stood speechless. He was the kind of guy that never talked to me back home.
He stretched out his hand and said. “Names Kenzo.”
I managed to squeak out, “Erin…. Um… American who’s totally lost.” Just as I was about to let go of his hand, water dripped down my arm onto his watch.
“Hey, I know it’s a sizzling summer but you’re soaked.”
“I had a little accident with a water bottle.”
His eyes moved up and down my body like a scanner. “I can see that.”
His stare confirmed I still looked like a wet T-shirt contestant.
“I was headed to Seda Academy and got lost. I couldn’t find anyone who could speak English to help me. Until… you.”
“You don’t speak any Japanese?”
“Only five words.” I gave him a smile and said in Japanese, “Excuse me, eat pretty idiot.”
AN INTERVIEW WITH ANNE
-What book and/or experience made you want to be a writer?
When I got back from living in Japan, I told some of my adventure to friends and they kept saying I should write a book. So one day I decided to sit down and see if I could. I soon found out after the book was critiqued that I needed to learn a lot more about the craft of writing to make a book anyone would want to read.
-What genres do you write?
YA Contemporary and Fantasy
-For aspiring writers, any tips?
My biggest piece of advice is also one of the hardest things to do, find a critique group and a critique partner. I’ve been in several groups and they have made all the difference in my writing. Without them I wouldn’t be published today. But finding the right person to work with can take a long time. It’s even harder to find a group. I think they are the key to learning the craft of writing. They truly have shaped me as a writer. They also have become life long friends. I’m forever grateful.
-What’s your favorite book/genre to read?
I love to read YA. I like the journey that the books take me on. Hard to pick a favorite but I really did enjoy the Hunger Games series and also John Green’s, Fault in Our Stars.
-What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?
My favorite is always the story I’m working on. I love jumping into a new story and letting the ideas take hold. I’m soon swept away. All my other stories are forgotten.
Anne Van is an artist, fashionista, turned writer. She has a Masters Degree in Fine Art and attended Waseda University in Tokyo Japan on a scholarship. She has exhibited her artwork all over the United States and one of her works was displayed in a museum in Picasso’s hometown of Malaga, Spain. After several years toiling as a fine artist, she switched gears to pursue another passion, fashion. Anne graduated from FIDM in Los Angeles and designed sportswear for major retailers. All the while she heard stories in her head. So one day she quit fashion and finally put her stories on paper. Since then Anne has published an article in a national magazine and an award winning travel story about her time living in Tokyo, Japan. She has also published short fiction. Anne continues to write the stories that fill her head. She lives in a Victorian home in a historic landmark district in Pasadena, California along with three rescue cats, including one that has six toes, and her TV composer husband who thankfully doesn’t.
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A friend of mine went to Spain with his Spanish class in high school. Before leaving, the teacher taught the students three phrases: where is the bathroom; where is the embassy; don’t shoot, I’m Canadian! I kind of wish “excuse me, eat pretty idiot” had been on the list, too.
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