Book News

Entertaining stuff you may have missed because you have a life

Author Jonelle Patrick with sake cup
If you’re suffering from Too Much Jonelle, run! Save yourself!

Guest blog, podcast & video roundup

If you’re already suffering from Too Much Jonelle, run! Save yourself!

But I don’t often blog or newsletter about the how-to and craft of writing, or the stories behind the books, so if the links below look entertaining and you missed them when they went live, here are the most recent Q&As and guest blog pieces on everything from how cod testicles are more insightful than cherry blossoms, to my most cringeworthy foreigner moment. Enjoy!

Historical Novel Society

“Jonelle Patrick, author of The Last Tea Bowl Thief (Seventh Street Books, October 2020), a time slip novel that moves between modern and 18th-century Japan, believes that “illuminating stories about what it’s like to be an insider are often written by those who will always be outsiders.” …read more

Jonelle’s comment: This review is so beautifully written, I hope that the author is writing a novel herownself. But it’s not just a pleasure to read—it also thoughtfully reflects on the underpinnings of the story in a way that had me nodding and smiling, because you don’t have to winkle out all those things to enjoy the story, but I loved that she caught a glimpse of the bigger issues beneath the surface.

Tokyo Authority

Tokyo Authority blog header with headline

“In The Last Tea Bowl Thief, Patrick skillfully braids the various strands of the narrative, spanning centuries. The threads run through the past to the present day, connecting individuals living in different times through a set of shared experiences, beliefs and a powerful legacy passed down from generation to generation, as past events inform the present. This kind of storytelling is at the heart of some of my favourite historical fiction…read more

Jonelle’s comment: Mac Salman is the only person I know who loves Japan as much as I do. His unbounded enthusiasm is only matched by his memory for details, so I feel compelled to tell you that he’s the one you should thank for stuff like the 1970s Expo plates not being erroneously dated as vintage 1960s.

Guest blog post
The Sake Cup Iceberg

Seven Criminal Minds blog header

“So, most people take one look at me and ask, how the heckin’ heck did a steak ‘n potatoes American whose parents grew up in North Dakota end up writing a book about shifty haiku poets and Japanese tea bowls? I wish I could say that it’s because I trained for years to become a black belt in tea ceremony. The embarrassing truth is that I’m actually super gifted at…shopping. When we first moved to Tokyo in 2003, we thought we’d only be there a year, so we rented everything—right down to the forks and chopsticks—and arrived with all our belongings in five boxes. Two years later, we left with seventy-four…read more

Jonelle’s comment: The Seven Criminal Minds are all mystery writers whose books are perched on my shelves and are religiously added to every time there’s a new one <stops to fan self at the proximity to greatness> So honored to be invited among them, even for a day!

Guest blog post
Foreigners aren’t fish

Jungle Red Writers blog header

Is it possible for an outsider to write an authentic story set in a foreign culture?
As you can imagine, I get asked this question a lot. I mean—if you had to guess—what do you think someone who looks like Pandemic Barbie is most likely to know more about: the merits of saving all the marshmallows in a bowl of Lucky Charms until last, or Japanese tea bowls? And even if you knew that I came in the special edition Tokyo Pandemic Barbie set (complete with Japanese language school diploma, a set of swordsmith-crafted kitchen knives and a wardrobe of masks that all squish her beaky nose) you’d still be completely within your reader rights to wonder how a foreigner could have enough insight to write a book that’s not only set in Japan, it’s got some Japanese characters. If you can suspend your skepticism for just a moment, let me suggest something kind of counterintuitive: that illuminating stories about what it’s like to be an insider are often written by those who will always be outsiders…read more

Jonelle’s comment: Just feast your eyes on the line-up of mystery talent that hosts this blog. I feel famous just orbiting in their glow

How allergy season explains Japan,
why cod testicles are more insightful than cherry blossoms,
and the killer true story that DIDN’T make it into The Last Tea Bowl Thief

My Haunted Library blog header

MHL- You moved to Tokyo in 2003, and I understand you now live part time in San Francisco and part time in Tokyo. What initially motivated you to move to Japan? What was the transition like for you? If you could pick one, or, ok, maybe two things, what do you love most about Japan?
JP – Ha, that answer has changed soooo many times since the first time I woke up in Tokyo with killer jetlag at 3:00 am…read more

Jonelle’s comment: I love the reviews this book blogger writes because they are short and to the point, specific about what’s good, and candid without being unkind

Pandemic reading, embracing the irritating, and writing edgy mysteries without resorting to violence

Writer's Digest blog header

WD: What prompted you to write this book?
JP: The truth is, I love Japan, even the irritating bits. Especially the irritating bits. That’s what makes me stop in my tracks and wonder, “Why the heckin’ heck do they do that?” I’d been writing police procedurals set in Japan for years, but lately, I’ve been thinking that there might be a lot of readers like me out there who don’t find murder particularly restful (especially in these troubled times), but also crave something a little edgier than bookshops and cats. I wrote The Last Tea Bowl Thief to deliver a mystery that was utterly compelling but without violence…read more

Jonelle’s comment: Writer’s Digest. THE Writer’s Digest. So honored.

Guest blog post
Are you stuck?

Women Writers, Women's Books blog header

How to get past that brick wall and start writing again
It’s happened to all of us. Fingers flying, the word count is ticking up nicely, then suddenly, BAM. You sit down to write, and it’s like dragging a refrigerator up the hill. You make yourself finish the chapter, but it has all the charm of a lead balloon.Okay, no problem. You push back your chair and take a walk. Maybe let it stew overnight. You know the edited version is always better than the first draft, so you come back and face your keyboard with renewed energy. Make the dialogue punchier. The setting more vivid. Pull something out of left field to shake things up. Ugh, still no good. Now what?…read more

Jonelle’s comment: I love this well-written site that’s by women, for women. It’s got both reviews and writing advice, and it’s all great.

Guest blog post
My most cringeworthy foreigner moment

Karen's Killed Book Bench blog excerpt

“Have you ever felt like a stranger in a strange land? I’m not asking if you’ve stepped off a plane in a country that’s so many time zones from home that noon feels like midnight—I’m asking if you’ve ever walked into a classroom at a new school? Sat in a lobby, waiting for someone to show you to your desk at a new job? Walked into a party and realized that the person who invited you isn’t there yet? If so, we’ve got soooo much in common! The first time I moved to Japan, I thought I was prepared. I’d been there before, I’d studied hard. And my Japanese was pretty heckin’ good. Or so I thought…read more

Jonelle’s comment: If you’ve heard of a book, Karen Doctor has read it. Seriously, this superwoman is a stormin’ tornado of reading.

Read Between the Lines with Molly Southgate

Read Between the Lines with Molly Southgate podcast header

Molly gets Jonelle to admit which characters are most autobiographical, how she finds weird details to put in the books, and all kinds of other juicy stuff. Listen here.

Jonelle’s comment: It’s a testament to the professionalism of the interviewer and the audio editor that this is not a textbook example of what it sounds like when the world’s most nervous introvert knows she’s being recorded.

Jonelle reads the first few chapters of The Last Tea Bowl Thief

22:59 of me reading the first three chapters of The Last Tea Bowl Thief, for your treadmilling, spinning, or nodding off instantly pleasure.

The Last Tea Bowl Thief is an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense on Amazon!

Jonelle Patrick writes mystery novels set in Tokyo, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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