Welcome Sara! Thank you for allowing me to interview you! Can you start off by introducing yourself?
Hi! I’m Sara Fujimura. I write for intelligent, adventurous, globally-minded teens (and the young at heart!) who aren’t afraid to fall in love with someone completely different than themselves. FAKING REALITY is my fourth published book. My third contemporary YA book. My second book with Tor Teen. And my first book that required power tool research.
How has the publication experience been for you?
A little unusual compared to most authors. My second book BREATHE, which came out in 2018, was about the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. Who knew that we were all going to become experts on pandemic life two years later? EVERY REASON WE SHOULDN’T (also with Tor Teen) launched two weeks before the United States went into lockdown. Despite the general chaos and all of my in-person book events going *poof* overnight, this little book went on to do some incredible things, including being translated in Korean and being named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2020. Unfortunately, FAKING REALITY’s launch will also be during the pandemic, when in-person events are still limited, but we’re going to make the best of it. Good thing we are all now very proficient in Zoom.
How would you describe Faking Reality in one sentence?
FAKING REALITY is like the 80s movie SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL meets Kara McDowell’s JUST FOR CLICKS with lots of foodie fun.
Can you introduce us to the main character(s) of Faking Reality ?
Dakota McDonald (15) has been on TV since literally the day she was born. But now that her family’s HGTV show is ending, this talented builder and maker struggles to figure out who she is outside of the spotlight.
Leo Matsuda (16) works too much in his family’s Japanese restaurant. He dreams of being your average teen, too—one with free time, a social life, and a girlfriend.
Dakota and Leo have been best friends since childhood, but now they are getting older, and the hormones are kicking in. Life gets messy when you accidentally fall in love with your best friend.
Is there any representation in Faking Reality? If so, what representation will readers find in it?
All three of my contemporary YA books feature either a mixed Asian main character and/or love interest because this is what my family looks like. In FAKING REALITY, Dakota (1/4) and Leo (1/2) are both of Japanese descent. There is a lot of Japanese language, culture, and food woven into the story to reflect that. Again, because that’s what my family looks like. In full disclosure: I am a Scottish-American woman married to an ex-pat Japanese man with two biracial/bicultural children who goes to Japan each summer (usually) for about a month to stay with my in-laws. Only my husband is bilingual, but the rest of us are working on it.
Do you know from the beginning how your books will end or do you let your characters decide their journey?
I used to be a pantser and let my characters tell me the story as we went along. That is a very slooooow way to write a book. I discovered Blake Snyder’s SAVE THE CAT book after I’d written the first several drafts of EVERY REASON WE SHOULDN’T. I used his “Beat Sheet” to plot FAKING REALITY before I started writing it. Yeah, there’s a reason why FAKING REALITY took less than two years to bring to life, and EVERY REASON WE SHOULDN’T took eight. My biggest piece of advice for new authors: Invest in a copy of Jessica Brody’s SAVE THE CAT! WRITES A NOVEL. Game changer!
Do you have a favorite scene, moment, or quote from the book?
Dakota’s ridiculous date with C-list actor (who thinks he’s a superstar) Jake Yong was a lot of fun to write. According to the friends I polled, being a jerk to the server is a huge turn-off during a date. So, of course, I had to make Leo their server for the evening. Dakota and Leo’s BFF-to-BFF talk afterward will make your heart melt faster than mochi ice cream in the Phoenix heat.
Faking Reality deals with reality shows and the behind the scenes of those. Did you have to do any research for that aspect of the book?
So. Much. Research. I’m lucky that one of my friends is an award-winning unscripted television producer, so she could correct the lingo, explain how things work behind the scenes, and even offer a few little twists that I would have never thought of. In fact, the character of Stephanie is very loosely based on her because my friend has done that role behind the scenes too.
What are three books you would recommend if someone enjoyed Faking Reality?
JUST FOR CLICKS by Kara McDowell
A PHO LOVE STORY by Loan Le
SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW by Maurene Goo
What’s next for you? Anything you can share?
I just signed the contract to turn my first YA novel TANABATA WISH into an audiobook. The VO actor Caitlin Kelly also did the audiobook for EVERY REASON WE SHOULDN’T. I am also out on submission with the graphic novel adaptation of TANABATA WISH and have started the first draft of a follow-up book to EVERY REASON WE SHOULDN’T. This one is told from aspiring roller derby queen Mack’s POV the summer before her senior year.
ABOUT THE BOOK
My Big Fat Greek Wedding meets Some Kind of Wonderful meets Kara McDowell’s Just for Clicks with diverse characters, perfect for readers looking for feel-good YA romance and those who like “clean teen” reads
Dakota McDonald swore after “The Great Homecoming Disaster” that she’d never allow her romantic life to be a plot line in her parents’ HGTV show again. But when the restaurant run by the family of her best friend (and secret crush), Leo, is on the line, Dakota might end up eating her own words.
Leo Matsuda dreams of escaping his small town Arizona life and the suffocating demands of working in his family’s restaurant, but the closer he gets to his goal–thanks to the help of his best friend (and secret crush) Dakota–the more reasons there are for him to stay.