Skip to main content

Jesse Q. Sutanto: On Accidental Murder and Meddlesome Families

Author Jesse Q. Sutanto explains how she created the plot for her novel Dial A for Aunties and how she lets her characters dictate their story.

Jesse Q. Sutanto grew up shuttling back and forth between Indonesia, Singapore, and Oxford and considers all three places her home. She has a master's from Oxford University, but she has yet to figure out how to say that without sounding obnoxious. Jesse has 42 first cousins and 30 aunties and uncles, many of whom live just down the road. When she's not writing, she's gaming with her husband (mostly FPS) or making a mess in the kitchen with her two daughters.

Jesse Q. Sutanto

Jesse Q. Sutanto

In this post, Sutanto explains how she created the plot for her novel Dial A for Aunties, how she lets her characters dictate their story, and more!

****

Blogging 101

A key to success for any writer is having an online presence. Blogging is one way to share your expertise and—at the same time—build an author platform. Don’t know how to start a blog? Not sure what to focus on? Don’t fret! This online writing workshop will guide you through the entire blogging process—how to create and set up a blog, where to start, and much more. You’ll learn how to attract readers and how to market your writing. Start a successful blog today and get noticed by editors and publishers.

Click to continue.
****

Name: Jesse Q Sutanto
Literary agent: Katelyn Detweiler
Book title: Dial A for Aunties
Publisher: Berkley
Release date: April 27, 2021
Genre: Women’s fiction, romantic comedy
Elevator pitch for the book: Crazy Rich Asians meets Weekend at Bernie’s as a young wedding photographer enlists her meddlesome mother and aunts to help hide the dead body of her blind date while trying to pull off an opulent wedding for a billionaire client on the same day.

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

IndieBound | Bookshop | Amazon
[WD uses affiliate links.]

What prompted you to write this book?

Two things: My favorite trope, which is accidental murder, and my own very meddlesome family. I think there are quite a few stories involving meddlesome aunties, which is always so fun, and I thought: You know what’s even more fun than meddlesome aunties? Meddlesome aunties getting rid of a dead body!

(5 Elements That All Good Rom-Coms Should Include)

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? 

From idea to finishing up the book itself, it took me about three months—one month to plot and outline and two months to write it. Then it took my awesome agent, Katelyn, about two weeks to sell it. So altogether, a very fast and smooth journey!

My ideas always evolve in the writing process, despite the fact that I outline as much as I can beforehand. This is because I let myself discover new things while writing. I get to know the characters, and I let them surprise me sometimes. It’s great fun, but also leads me to getting stuck quite a bit while drafting.

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

So many! The first surprise was when we were out on sub and Katelyn started getting calls from film agents. We had no idea how the film people heard about it, but before long, Katelyn was getting inundated with calls from film scouts and even foreign scouts who had somehow heard about the book.

The other surprise was how quickly everything happened. Books usually take about two years from the time the deal happens to publication, but Dial A is coming out in April 2021, almost exactly one year after we sold to Berkley. I am amazed by the speed at which things are happening, and so grateful to my Berkley team, which comprises of superhumans.

(Love Letters: How to Spark Romance in a Story Without Using the L-Word)

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

So many! I didn’t foresee the aunties playing such a huge role in the book, to be honest. They basically stole the show, and I’m so glad they did. I adore these aunties. I was also surprised by how easily the scenes with the aunties flowed. I guess it’s because I knew them so well already. Their dialogues just sprang onto the page fully formed. Their feuds and relationships with each other all came so naturally. I wasn’t expecting it, though thinking of my own family, I should’ve seen that coming.

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

Above all, a good laugh. And a peek into Indonesian culture and how extravagant it is.

Jesse Q. Sutanto: On Accidental Murder and Meddlesome Families

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

Keep writing! DAFA was my ninth book. Ninth! Aaaah! I had sold two others before DAFA, but DAFA was the truly life-changing one. Rejection is, unfortunately, a big part of being a writer, so normalize it, shrug it off, and keep writing. 

Karen Hamilton: On Cause and Effect

Karen Hamilton: On Cause and Effect

International bestselling author Karen Hamilton discusses the “then and now” format of her new domestic thriller, The Ex-Husband.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: The Ultimatum

Plot Twist Story Prompts: The Ultimatum

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character give or face an ultimatum.

6 Things Every Writer Should Know About Sylvia Beach and Shakespeare and Company

6 Things Every Writer Should Know About Sylvia Beach and Shakespeare and Company

Sylvia Beach was friend to many writers who wrote what we consider classics today. Here, author Kerri Maher shares six things everyone should know about her and Shakespeare and Company.

How Writers Can Apply Business Tools to Their Writing

How Writers Can Apply Business Tools to Their Writing

Author Katherine Quevedo takes an analytical look at the creative process in hopes to help other writers find writing success.

Nick Petrie: On Following the Most Compelling Story

Nick Petrie: On Following the Most Compelling Story

Award-winning author Nick Petrie discusses how he listened to the story that wanted to be told in his new Peter Ash thriller novel, The Runaway.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 596

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a punishment poem.

Jacquelyn Mitchard: On Forgiveness in Fiction

Jacquelyn Mitchard: On Forgiveness in Fiction

Award-winning novelist Jacquelyn Mitchard discusses the chance meeting that led to her new novel, The Good Son.

Sea Bound

Sea Bound

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, write about someone connected to the sea.

writersMarket_wd-ad_1000x300 (1)

Get Published With the Latest Market Books Editions

Get published and find more success with your writing by using the latest editions of the Market Books, including Writer's Market, Poet's Market, Guide to Literary Agents, and more!