A few weeks ago, a remarkable thing happened: I received a nice check from Kensington for a foreign sale of my novel, ONCE MORE WITH FEELING which they had published back in 1998. The buyer was a Japanese publisher who wanted to turn it onto a “Manga” romance novel, which, according to Google (yes, I looked it up), is a cartoon or comic strip book. These books can be about romance, mystery, horror, science fiction, or sports, and are popular in Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and even France.
The story in ONCE MORE WITH FEELING, which is currently with a different publisher and available as an e-book on Amazon, is about a young woman stock broker who falls in love with a customer who might be involved in illegal insider trading in the U.S. I didn’t see why Japanese readers would be interested until I remembered that the book is set in San Francisco, which is where I lived when I wrote the novel so many years ago. I worked at that time as a P.R. person for a large shopping mall and frequently was asked to escort a group of Japanese tourists through the facility. I even took them through the underground delivery tunnel where vendors unloaded merchandise for the hundred-plus stores in the mall.
I learned then that Japanese have been coming to San Francisco to live and work since 1850, and a Japantown survived the 1906 earthquake. After World War II, immigration dropped off, but soon resumed again. The Japanese people loved the city and still do.
By coincidence, this unexpected sale of foreign rights came just as I was finishing work on a novella set in the city. Writing A STUDY IN AMBER reminded me of the things I, too, enjoyed during the twenty-five years I lived there. The magnificent Golden Gate Bridge, the cable cars, sailing in San Francisco Bay, bicycling in Golden Gate Park, the smells, sights and sounds of the city.
The Japanese, being especially polite, often rewarded me for my work as their tour guide with a gift, and I still have a special one that I’ve saved for all these years. It’s a pair of jade earrings from Gump’s. As I was then, I’m grateful to those kind people and hope, even though I’ll never read the “Manga” version of my novel, that a story set in our lovely City by the Bay will bring them as much pleasure as writing ONCE MORE WITH FEELING did for me.