First up...a big thank you to the Young Adult Chapter of the Romance Writers of America (YARWA) for awarding TANABATA WISH first place in the YA Contemporary category and Best First Book in the Athena Awards competition. Asian male heroes are harder to find in American romance novels than unicorns, and hapa heroes even more so. Yet a large percentage of my readers watch anime, listen to Kpop, are or aspire to be world travelers, are biracial and/or bicultural, and aren't afraid to fall in love with someone outside of their own ethnicity. I wrote TANABATA WISH for them. The fact that my peers think my art has merit is icing on the cake. I just wish someone would have invented a teleporter in time for me to zap across the Pacific Ocean to Denver for the 2018 RWA Convention award ceremony. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!
Now then, back to hapa heroes. When I was creating TANABATA WISH, I knew I wanted Ryouhei David Takamatsu to be some kind of athlete. Despite the stereotype, not all Asian males do martial arts. In Japan, soccer is huge and so is baseball. My husband was a baseball player (I'm #bandkid4life) and enjoys going to games in Japan when he’s there, so this was the obvious (read: easiest) choice. I’ve been to a couple of games inside the Nagoya Dome to watch the Chunichi Dragons play. I was the goober there taking notes throughout the game. If (when!) you read TANABATA WISH, know that all of the details from the game—the chanting, Sky not being able to read the scoreboard, the cheerleaders, and especially the food—came from my adventures. And, yes, the special towel that David gives Sky is a thing. You can see what the whole Japanese baseball fan package looks like here.
Though baseball still isn’t my jam, like Sky, I enjoyed sampling all the food associated with the event. No peanuts and Cracker Jacks. Instead, I found takoyaki (see my previous post about it here), squid on a stick, vanilla ice cream with cornflakes, melon soda, and my personal favorite—baseball bento.
There you go. Even if you aren’t a sports fan, if you are traveling abroad and have the opportunity to go to an event with a local, avid fan, I hope you’ll go. It’s a great cultural experience and a chance to try new things. For example, my mom (who isn’t into sports either) had the opportunity to go to an international rugby competition while in South Africa in December. She learned a lot about the sport from her hosts, enjoyed people-watching, and said the New Zealand team’s haka [something like this] was amazing. Give it a try!
If you enjoy a lot of fact with your fiction, stick around. I’ll be adding a few more behind-the-scenes posts about Japan before our annual summer visit comes to an end. Want to see how they connect into TANABATA WISH? You can order the paperback here and the eBook here.
BONUS: In BREATHE, I mention a famous American pro baseball player who had to put his career on hold for a bit to go fight overseas during WWI. This same man would go on to lead the 1934 Major League All-Star team as they toured around Japan playing the best Japanese players. Want to know who it was and more about Japanese baseball history? Go here.