Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Hello guys! Today, I'm featuring a YA contemporary starring a half-Japanese, half-American heroine! It's an engrossing read that tackles various themes. Readers who like character growth and family dynamics would enjoy this. I'm interviewing Akemi Dawn, whose name is so gorgeous, all about her writing and Starfish. Stick around for a giveaway at the end!

How does your background in the social sciences and in the US Navy contribute to your writing?
I don’t feel like they play a role in the stories I write, but I do think they’ve had an effect on my work ethic. I’m really good with deadlines—they keep me focused and I tend to work faster when I’m on a time-limit. There was also a saying in the military that went, “Hurry up and wait.” And patience is one of the most important things you can learn in the publishing industry!

How would you best describe your writing style?
Lately everything I write seems to be moody and emotional, and I don’t know why that is. A few years ago, I wanted to write stories that entertained people. Now I have a bizarre need to make everyone cry!

How is your writing process? Could you share it with us?
I’ve got a three-year-old and a one-year-old, and my husband works off-shore. When he’s away, I usually only get to write in the evenings after the kids are in bed. But when he’s home, I write every free moment I can. So it’s less of a process, and more of a desperate attempt to get all the words down immediately. I also start with very minimal notes—I write down character names, and a rough idea of where the story is headed. And then I get to know my characters as I write, and let their personalities shape the scenes.

What or who inspired you to write Starfish?
My inspiration behind Starfish was basically my desire to write the book I needed most as a teen.

How did you craft Kiko's voice? What are the defining points and limitations in establishing her voice?
Kiko is more like me than any other character I’ve ever written, and probably ever will write. So a lot of her voice was remembering how I would’ve reacted at seventeen, and what I was feeling. But she’s also so much stronger than I was too. She spends so much of the book trying to navigate these feelings of being “not good enough,” while also having big hopes and dreams and wanting to heal. She goes through such a major journey, so as much as I could establish her voice at the beginning, I also had to let her grow.

Which was the hardest scene to write, if any?
The scene where Kiko is in the car on her way to California. I find travelling scenes so difficult to write. Maybe because I hate travelling in real life! I find them slow, and kind of a necessary evil. If I could, I’d just teleport all my characters from one place to the next. The driving could be all over in a sentence!

What is your favorite line from the book?
Almost every chapter ends in a line that describes what Kiko is drawing or painting. And I love so many of these, that it’s almost impossible for me to choose. But the one I think reflects the book the most reads, “I draw a very small fish swimming in the ocean and realizing it’s filled with planets and stars.” This is also in the same chapter where the reader will learn what a “starfish” is, so I think it’s really fitting for the book (and cover!).

If you could write something out of the YA contemporary genre, what genre would it be and what would it be about?
I’m actually working on a YA fantasy right now! But I don’t like to talk about projects this early in the drafting stage. I’m always a bit worried that the more I say, the more likely I am to feel burned out on a story. But I’m having a lot of fun with it, and will hopefully get to talk about it more in the future!

What's next for Akemi?
Book 2 was officially announced last week. It’s called SUMMER BIRD BLUE, and will be out in Fall 2018 with Simon Pulse. It’s about a teen songwriter who loses her sister in a tragic accident and is sent to live with her aunt in Hawaii while her mom deals with her own grief. It’s about loss, and family, and learning how to say goodbye to someone who is already gone. And one of the best parts is that I get to work with my incredible editor, Jen, for a second time. I’m thrilled, and can’t wait to share more soon!

Thank you, Akemi!

Photo by Rory Lewis Photography
About the Author:

Akemi Dawn Bowman is the author of Starfish. She’s a proud Ravenclaw and Star Wars enthusiast, who served in the US Navy for five years and has a BA in social sciences from UNLV. Originally from Las Vegas, she currently lives in England with her husband, two children, and their Pekingese mix. Starfish will be published later this year (9/26/17, Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster), with a second YA contemporary to follow in Fall 2018. She is represented by Penny Moore of Empire Literary.

Find Akemi: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

Book Description:

Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: September 26th 2017 by Simon Pulse

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

From debut author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.


Thanks to Akemi for sponsoring this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: Pre-order of Starfish
Scope: International

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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1 comment:

  1. This sounds amazing! I'm highly anticipating "Starfish" and am excited about the second book too. <3 Thanks for the Q&A! Shame that I can't enter the giveaway because I don't live in the US. :( Oh well. I'll hopefully pick it up when it comes out!

    Cass @ Words on Paper