Skip to main content

Emiko Jean: On Writing About Complicated Mother-Daughter Relationships

Author Emiko Jean discusses the seed of an idea that became her new novel, Mika in Real Life.

Emiko Jean is the author of Tokyo Ever After, Empress of all Seasons, and We'll Never be Apart. When Emiko is not writing, she is reading. Most of her friends are imaginary. Before she became a writer, she was an entomologist (fancy name for bug catcher), a candle maker, a florist, and most recently a teacher. She lives in Washington with her husband and children (unruly twins). She loves the rain. Follow her on Instagram.

Emiko Jean: On Writing About Complicated Mother-Daughter Relationships

Emiko Jean

In this post, Emiko discusses the seed of an idea that came her new novel, Mika in Real Life, her advice for other writers, and more!

Name: Emiko Jean
Literary agent: Erin Harris at Folio Literary Agency
Book title: Mika in Real Life
Publisher: William Morrow, HarperCollins
Release date: August 2, 2022
Genre/category: General Fiction/Women’s Fiction
Previous titles: Tokyo Ever After (Flatiron), Tokyo Dreaming (Flatiron)
Elevator pitch for the book: A woman’s long-lost daughter comes back into her life after 16 years and she fabricates her life to impress her; to unexpected consequences. Mika in Real Life is about motherhood, daughterhood, and love—how we find it, keep it, and how it always returns.

Emiko Jean: On Writing About Complicated Mother-Daughter Relationships

IndieBound | Bookshop | Amazon

What prompted you to write this book?

I wanted to write a book about the complicated, beautiful, and frequently flawed relationships between mothers and daughters. That is the seed from which the story grew.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?

From first draft to publication, Mika in Real Life took around 18 months to complete. The fundamental idea, a story about a woman reuniting with the daughter she placed for adoption 16 years prior, stayed consistent, but the character arcs evolved over the course of the manuscript.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

I’ve written books in the young adult space and knew what to expect in the publishing process. Still, I think every book and every publishing/imprint is unique. William Morrow works as a well-oiled machine, and I have been so impressed by the team’s effort to champion Mika.

Emiko Jean: On Writing About Complicated Mother-Daughter Relationships

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

I wouldn’t say surprises, but there were many challenges. One challenge was that Mika suffered from a bit of inertia early on in the book, and it was difficult to rouse her from that state and make her a character that readers wanted to root for.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I hope that readers will find whatever they are looking for, whether it be a light read with lots of heart, a more serious discussion on intergenerational trauma, or a heroine that resonates with them.

If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?

Write authentically and passionately—find the story only you can tell and make sure you love it. Also, don’t confuse rejection with failure—they are not the same. Rejection is not yet, and failure is never.

Creative Writing 101

Creative Writing 101 combines teaching the key elements of storytelling with developing the protagonist. Once you understand who this character is and how to make sure you’ve included the key story elements, you are well on your way to writing that book you have been squelching.

Click to continue.

Phong Nguyen: On Freedom To Invent in Historical Fiction

Phong Nguyen: On Freedom To Invent in Historical Fiction

Award-winning author Phong Nguyen discusses his lifelong dream of writing his new historical fiction novel, Bronze Drum.

Historical Fiction Authors Don’t Expect Their Characters’ Battles To Appear in Modern Headlines, but Here We Are

Historical Fiction Authors Don’t Expect Their Characters’ Battles To Appear in Modern Headlines, but Here We Are

What happens to historical fiction when history repeats itself? Author Addison Armstrong discusses writing about the past and seeing it reflected in the present.

From Script

Art and Independence (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, exclusive interviews with Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman” television writer Vanessa Benton, Allegoria writer-director Spider One, Hulu’s Prey screenwriter Patrick Aison and director Dan Trachtenberg, and more!

Steven Hartov: On Shocking Truths in Historical Fiction

Steven Hartov: On Shocking Truths in Historical Fiction

New York Times bestselling author Steven Hartov discusses the surprising truths he discovered when writing his new historical fiction novel, The Last of the Seven.

Larry Beinhart: On Rejection Leading to Mystery

Larry Beinhart: On Rejection Leading to Mystery

Award-winning author Larry Beinhart discusses what he learned in the process of writing his new mystery novel, The Deal Goes Down.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: A Competition Announcement, 6 WDU Courses, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our self-published e-book awards, 6 WDU courses, and more!

Leah Franqui: On Killing Our Critical Inner Voices

Leah Franqui: On Killing Our Critical Inner Voices

Award-winning playwright and author Leah Franqui discusses how she examined her life through a fictive lens with her new novel, After the Hurricane.

Pacing Your Fight Scene (FightWrite™)

Pacing Your Fight Scene (FightWrite™)

Trained fighter and author Carla Hoch discusses how to pace your story's fight scene and shares three examples from writers who tackle pacing differently.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Rushing the Drafting Process

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Rushing the Drafting Process

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's mistake is rushing the drafting process.