Sunday, November 13, 2011

UK cover for THE HUNT and promo material

My editor at Simon & Schuster UK sent me some promotion materials for The Hunt that will be going out soon. It includes the UK book cover, blurbs, and details about a "kick-ass" marketing and publicity campaign. It looks absolutely stunning (both the cover and promo materials) and I can't even begin to express my gratitude for the terrific job the whole S&S UK's team is doing.





How do you like the UK cover? It's rather different from the US cover; I like the different take, how it wonderfully captures a more immediate sense of the book. Looking at the UK and US covers side by side, I feel like a father to fraternal twins, beaming with pride and joy over both.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Hunt cover!

I'm so happy to be able to show you the cover for The Hunt. St. Martin's Press and James Porto did an amazing job, and I'm beyond ecstatic over the end product. Here it is:

I've heard horror stories of authors detesting their cover, and of being given zero input by their publisher. So not true in my case. In fact, just the opposite. I love this cover!

And, let it be known, St. Martin's Press (especially my editor, Rose Hilliard) has been incredible. Every step of the way, they were gracious to ask for my (and my awesome agent, Catherine Drayton's) input, even down to selecting the models. The cover has undergone quite a few iterations (perhaps I'll blog about it in detail in the future) and the amazing Design team kept outdoing themselves each step of the way. I think the end result is wonderful. The mood of the cover fits perfectly with the book. I think it's a very unique YA cover with definite crossover appeal.

What's especially neat is the full wraparound dust jacket design (below). The color synchrony between the front and back covers is so pleasing to the eye, and captures such a vital essence of the book. And as for the absence of people on the back? - also a key aspect of the book. My editor tells me that the back cover is going to be blinged with the very generous and kind blurbs I've received from Richelle Mead, Alyson Noel, Becca Fitzpatrick, and Andrea Cremer. Can't wait to see that.

So...what do you think?

Friday, September 23, 2011

cover, music, etc.

As is pretty clear (from the author's printed name, etc.), none of these are the cover for my The Hunt. I was just curious and checked out other The Hunt book covers on Amazon.These are some of the results (turns out The Hunt is quite a popular title!).

Anyway, as I alluded to in my previous post, I'm this close to being able to reveal the cover to my The Hunt. So to my five faithful followers (alliteration!) not in the Fukuda clan, I'll reward your loyalty to my site by allowing you to be the first in the world to view it. Honestly, I can't wait to show it since I think the St. Martin's Press team and James Porto (that's my teaser reveal) have done an amazing job. Maybe in the next fortnight?

Moving on.

Things have been going well on the first draft of The Hunt Book II. I'm going to have to do a lot of chiseling and honing because right now, it's pretty War-and-Peace lengthy. But unlike many authors, I enjoy the arduous task of revising/rewriting because that's the stage in the process for me where my novels always seem to come into their own.

Hmm... hopefully, I didn't just jinx myself.

Anyway, this got me thinking about something. More than I expected, music has been a crucial component in writing book two. The reason: I've done the bulk of my writing in cafes and coffee shops, and have needed music to drown out the ancillary noise (which is often not so ancillary). Babbling gossipers, loudmouth biz dudes, babies crying, even mah jong players are often jockeying for my ear drums. So, with much thanks to Spotify, I've been listening to great music as I write, mostly film soundtracks, Gungor and The National.

Music has helped so much, it seems almost unfair, like taking writing steroids or that drug in the movie Limitless. There are some scenes (mostly action or romantic) which have been enhanced and stimulated and heightened by the music to the nth degree. One day, perhaps readers will have the option to play author-selected music alongside certain scenes. Definitely doable on the Kindle or Nook or whatever ereader has overtaken the market by that point.

If you've seen Warrior (one of the best films of the year), you'll know how the last scene in the wrestling cage was so poignantly rendered by the song About Today by The National. The scene would simply be a whole other scene, less powerful, if this unexpected song hadn't played when it did. You can get a taste of how a song can affect the whole tone of a scene - and movie - by checking out this clip (see below). It features the same song (About Today by The National) that is played in the aforesaid final wrestling scene. Anyway, this got me wondering if one day e-books might not come with an option to play author-chosen music for certain scenes. And if they did, would that dilute/violate or enhance/improve the reading experience?

Monday, September 12, 2011

random thoughts

I'm plunged deep into writing Book 2 right now, so my thoughts are a little scattered, but . ..

  • I'm really excited that my short story, lost, will be included in the Tomo Anthology, a forthcoming benefit anthology of short fiction set in or related to Japan for readers ages 12 and up. Proceeds from the sale of Tomo will support teens affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011. It's such an honor to be included in this anthology, and a real blessing to be able to use my talents to help, if even in the smallest of ways.
  • It's been a really terrific two weeks, book cover-wise. Both my US publisher (St. Martin's Press) and my UK publisher (Simon & Schuster) have sent me their respective covers for The Hunt. They're both very different, but incredible and awesome in their own ways. Both covers still need to be tweaked, and last-minute brush-ups are still being undertaken, but I can't wait to be able to show you in the near future. I've read so many horror stories of authors hating their covers, so I was a little worried. I shouldn't have been; I think both are terrific.
  • I saw the film Warrior this past Friday. I was really blown away by the intelligent filmmaking and acting. Although sometimes almost slipping into the maudlin, it stayed true to its vision. The last few minutes of the film, including that tap, were heart-wrenching.
And that's it for now. More later . . .

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The decline in boy readers and boy protagonists. Relationship?

The decline in boy readership is well-documented. In a recent New York Times article by Robert Lipsyte, a number of reasons are suggested for this disturbing trend.
  • Boys gravitate toward nonfiction;
  • Books with story lines about disease, divorce, death and dysfunction sell better for girls than do similar books for boys;
  • While teenage girls will read books about boys, teenage boys will rarely read books with predominately female characters;
  • Today’s books for boys are simply inferior: supernatural space-and-sword epics that read like video game manuals and sports novels with preachy moral messages, and which often seem like cynical appeals to the lowest common denominator.
Whatever might be the actual root cause – and there is some debate – there is little debate that the YA market today largely caters to the female reader demographic. To quote Lipsyte: “At the 2007 A.L.A. conference, a Harper executive said at least three-­quarters of her target audience were girls, and they wanted to read about mean girls, gossip girls, frenemies and vampires.” 

In other words, acquisition and marketing decisions by publishers are being made with this female readership in mind, and this indubitably affects other considerations down the road such as cover design and promotion strategies. The end product is leaving the teenage boys cold. And so the downward trend continues. Or so the theory goes.

Anyway, without entering too deeply into the current debate, I thought it might be interesting to see what percentage of YA books being released in the remainder of 2011 features a male protagonist. If the theory is true that teenage boys will rarely read books with a female protagonist (Hunger Games excepting), and if the Harper executive is correct (boys are only 25% of target audience), then you’d expect to see about 25% of the YA books featuring a male protagonist.
My analysis is by no means an exact science, and I certainly don’t hold it out to be one. Using the list of upcoming YA titles through 2011 from, I took a tally of the number of books with male (and female) protagonists. I did not include MG books or anthologies. To aid me in deciding the gender of the protagonist, I used the book’s description on Amazon; where that was inconclusive, I looked at the book cover to further guide me: did it predominantly feature a male or female? On occasion, where even that proved to be insufficient, I would check out the author’s website for more information. You can look at my full results here (and of course, let me know where I made a mistake! Again, this was just a rough-shod tally. Give me an intern and 5 hours, and I’ll give you an error-free analysis!).

There were times when I simply could not discern the gender of the protagonist. Sometimes, the book’s description gave inadequate information. Other times, the book’s synopsis suggested male and female main characters, and the cover featured both a male and female model. Paul Griffin’s Stay With Me is a good example of this. A few books, like Marie Lu’s Legend, feature alternating perspectives of a male and female protagonist. For books such as these, I decided not designate a male or female protagonist, and did not include that book in my final tally.

The result: Out of 104 YA titles coming out in the remainder of 2011, 27 of them feature male protagonists. That is 26%.

Which is pretty darn close to the aforementioned 25%.

Some other interesting tidbits of info:
Number of female authors who wrote books with a male protagonist: 10
Number of male authors who wrote books with a female protagonist: 1 (Clive Barker’s Abarat 3:Absolute Midnight).

Monday, August 1, 2011

writerly inspirations

July was not a good blogging month for me! But August will be different. See, it's only August 1st and I already have a blog up.

One of the questions I often get is how I get my ideas. I'm never really sure how to answer because inspiration hits me in varied ways and places, and they often evolve so gradually before crystallizing into the final form that I can't really articulate where or how I got the "idea."

But there are two activities that - for me, at least - really seem to let loose the creative juices. One of them is running. I love to put on my running shoes, snap on my Garmin watch, plug in my earphones, and just take off. By the time I've hit mile two or three and my body is warmed up, my brain unlocks. The dam breaks, and creative waters start flowing. Plot holes, character issues, etc. etc., all seem to find obvious solutions.

The second activity is taking a shower. Something about the white noise of water splashing, the soothing impact of hot water spraying off me, has a calming impact on me, and in that zen mode, ideas really seem to rain down on me. I read a blog somewhere about one author who kept a diver's board in his shower to jot down his ideas so I guess I'm not the only one.

And sometimes, inspiration can come in the weirdest form. Last week, I was really stuck plot-wise with something in Book II, and neither running nor showering seemed to help. I was getting pretty frustrated when I read a retweet from someone in Simon and Schuster (UK) who had read The Hunt. That person (@kat99999) mentioned that listening to The National's High Violet had invoked thoughts about The Hunt because both were "haunting and creepy." That piqued my curiosity so I listened to the album. And wouldn't you know it, ten minutes later, as I listened to the album, my fingers started to dance across the keyboard. Writer's block, unblocked. Thanks, @kat9999.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On writing the sequel

A few months ago, my trilogy was picked up by St. Martin’s Press. The first book, titled The Hunt, is due to be published in Spring of 2012.

I’m now working on the second book in the trilogy. 

It’s a strange place to be in.

You’re writing full-time but, with the publication date for Book One almost a year away, it somehow doesn’t feel quite real. There’s no tangible proof that you’re an author: you can’t go into a bookstore and hold your book aloft, you don’t have readers emailing you, you don’t have a book cover or even design mock-ups to show yet. Your blog has one consistent reader (and he doesn’t count, because he’s your brother).

But it’s also a really neat place to be in. Because it’s given me the necessary space and time I need to plunge myself into the sequel without the distraction of marketing/promotional work. I know that time is coming (in about only a year!) when I’ll be promoting Book 1, editing Book 2, and writing Book 3, when I’ll wistfully look back to these quieter, more spacious days. 

The internet is rife with blogs about just how much work it takes to write a good Book 2 of a trilogy. Let me tell you: they’re right. Writing the second book is challenging. It has to advance story arcs, develop character relationships, deepen mystery threads, all the while without bringing final resolution. Yet it has to stand on its own, provide in its own way some level of resolution and plot climax. Pictorially, I liken Book 2 to an enticing bridge that people can’t wait to get on, provides enjoyment for those crossing it, but which also leaves them hungry for more, eager to embark on the next leg of the journey. A tall task! 

Which leads me back to why I love the quiet and space the next few months will afford me. Every day I wake up, knowing that I’ll have a chunk of time to dive into the world of Gene and the hepers, and the joy that brings me is at times intoxicating. That’s not to suggest there aren’t difficult (and sometimes %@#! frustrating) days; I’ve had many, and there’ll be plenty more ahead. But I love the feeling of turning on my computer, setting my ice coffee down next to me, and having the next few hours to make real the imaginary world in my head. It's a pure time, when all I have to measure my day's success is whether the pages I write are internally true to my own vision. When I won't be affected by reader's expectations (I read somewhere that it's the expectations of the glowing reviewers - and not the bad ones - who can most affect your vision) but only by my inner compass of uncompromised rightness.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The goal is not to get to the finish line.

Writing a book is long journey, one rife with all kinds of obstacles and hurdles. Plot, thematic coherence, characterization, dialogue, etc. - any one of these can become the barrier that proves insurmountable, pushing that manuscript into the forgotten recesses of your computer's hard drive. Every author I've spoken with has encountered at least one significant hurdle in the writing of a novel, and each has had to deal with it. These can be considerable setbacks, sometimes lasting several months as the author wrestles with the hurdle. But this is the point - the author wrestles and deals with it, refusing to simply quick-fix the problem with a roughshod job, because (s)he knows the novel will be all the better for their efforts. It's what transforms a mediocre novel into an unforgettable one.

Of course, you can just ignore the problem points and rush to the end, impatient to finally type THE END. Trouble is, if you don't fix the problems, if you just bludgeon your way past and through the hurdles, you may get to the finishing line, but you have not exactly won the race. See the hurdler in video below.

When my agent, Catherine Drayton, told me that there were some "hurdles" that had to be dealt with before submitting to the publishing houses, I wanted to pull my hair out. When I realized that these were not quick fixes but would require a bit of actual thought, creativity, and work, I wanted to pull my teeth out. Then I wanted to pull her teeth out. What I wanted was for her to submit the manuscript yesterday, already.

I'm so glad she didn't. Catherine was so spot-on in her critique. It took work - hard, bruising work - but it ultimately made the novel that much better. It was a good reminder that the point is not simply to write a novel, blazing through all the hurdles, but to take the time and effort to write an AWESOME one. And that means playing by the rules, putting the time in.

Friday, May 13, 2011

How my writer's block saved a cat

This morning, I was suffering from a bad case of writer's block. I did what I usually do when the writing doesn't flow: I drove to a nature preserve and put on my running shoes. Running has this way of unclogging my brain, something Nathan Bransford (whose excellent Wonderbar novel launched this week) (yes, that was a shameless piece of product placement) has also found effective.

Anyway, after my run, just as I was about to get into my car, I heard a meowing. I was in a desolate parking lot in the middle of nowhere, so my curiosity was piqued. I looked down, and this is what I found:

I'm not a cat person - I'm firmly Team Dog - but something about this cat broke me inside. It was famished, thirsty, and frail. When I patted it, it was sticks & bones. But clearly domesticated - it didn't have a feral bone in it. I poured it some water and it lapped it up. Finished a whole bottle, in fact. It kept meowing, clearly hungry. And it was starving for affection - it kept trying to rub its body on my leg. And then it crawled under my car, coming out only when it wanted to rub its body on my leg again.

(its eyes are focused on my leg it wanted to rub against. again.)

I couldn't leave it, so I called the animal shelter. They were great - they got there within minutes. The staff lady calmly put it into a box, then into the van. She told me a cat owner had called about a week ago, frantic about a cat she'd lost at that very nature preserve. Hopefully, this is the same cat, and there's a happy ending to this story. I'm going to call the shelter next week and make sure this cat found its owner. If not, I might just head down to the shelter myself and adopt the cat. It did a number on me, it did.

Anyway, this just goes to show that writer's block isn't always a terrible thing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Soba Ni Iru Ne by Thelma Aoyama

I might make this a regular feature on this blog: a weekly peek into Asian culture (music, movies, books). I'll keep it to one video (or movie scene/excerpt) a week, featuring an aspect of Asian culture that the western hemisphere is missing out on.

This week, I'm featuring a song, Soba Ni Iru Ne by Thelma Aoyama.  In my mind, it's an instant Top Ten song simply begging to be translated and brought over here. Beyonce (featuring Usher) would rock this song.

Not that Thelma Aoyoma is any kind of slouch, either. She grooves, silky smooth. Part Afro-Trinidadian and part Japanese, Thelma brings so much nuance and depth to this song.

Also, there's a companion song Koko ni iru yo. Same song with a heavier emphasis on the soft rap male part. Nice video, though not quite as good a song, in my estimation. Those of you who speak Japanese must love the ne and yo ending of both song titles.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Long Island Library Conference and more recognition from Booklist!

Had a great time at the Long Island Library Conference this morning where I was the keynote speaker. You couldn't have asked for a better audience - about 700 book-lovers otherwise known as librarians. They kindly laughed at my jokes and kept the egg-throwing and hissing to a minimum. It was a blast.

Afterward, when I'd gotten into my car and checked my email, my editor informed me of another distinction from Booklist! Crossing was chosen as a Top Ten First Crime Novel! I think the coolest thing about this distinction is being lumped in with Paul McEuen for his novel, Spiral. I just finished reading it and it was tres awesome. It certainly helped that McEuen - a Cornell professor - gave lots of detailed description about Ithaca in general and the Cornell campus in particular. It was, as the Japanese say, natsukashi.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I'm determined to be a better social networker.  Part of me is intimidated by this whole world, partly because I feel so late to the party, and partly because I'm not sure I have quite the "voice" for it.  Also, I hate the sense that I'm being nothing more than a used car salesman up to one of his gimmicky tricks, or a politician vainly trying to disguise self-promotion.  All the above . . . eeck.

But I'm going to plunge into this anyway and I'll be using the Roecker sisters and Nathan Bransford as role models.

  • The Roecker sisters: I really like the light and amusing feel of the Lisa and Laura Roecker's blog.  It's funny, informative, and just this side of educational.  I've already committed to memory their blogging manifesto.

  • Nathan Bransford: he said somewhere (a tweet, a blog post?) that the purpose of social networking isn't to promote or self-promote or accrue a fan base or look impressive, but . . . (drum roll) to be social.  Ahh...the light switches on...

So having said that, let's get a move on.  I will now be more social by . . .

Talking about Beth Revis' Across the Universe.

Or more specifically, about the cover.

Although I've heard great things about the book, I've resisted buying it for the silliest of reasons.  The cover.  Actually, it's not even the cover.  It's what I thought was on the cover.  My problem is that I've only seen the cover in thumbprint size on blogs and whatnot. And for whatever reason, it looked to me like a really odd image: two pink amoeba, facing each other, one on the right, the other on the left, kissing each other with puckering snouts. It just looked freaky. And once that image became impressed into my mind, it became difficult to dislodge.  Like the old hag/pretty young woman illusion - once you see the old hag, the pretty lady vanishes. And every time I saw the Across the Universe cover,  all I could see were the two pink amoeba with snouts, puckering each other in a kiss.  You tell me you don't see the kissing pink amoeba:

Only yesterday, at the library, I finally saw the hardcover. And boy, was I wrong. The cover, actually, is not bad at all.  And I was way off. Because it's not two pink amoeba on the cover.  In fact, there's no amoeba at all. Just a really cool picture of a young-looking William Shatner.


I was a fool to misjudge the cover so badly.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bologna Children's Book Fair

A formidable team from Inkwell (including my awesome agent, Catherine Drayton) just finished up four days at the Bologna Children's Book Fair pitching a number of books, including The Hunt, to foreign publishers.  I received some good news from the team last night - there are quite a number of foreign deals in the making, with publishers in several countries bidding for the rights to the book.  Pretty exciting.  I can't say much about them (yet) because nothing is final yet, but one deal that is final and which I'm ecstatic about is the signing with Simon & Schuster UK (press release here).  It's an incredible publishing house and I'm honored to be on their list.

The deal also created significant buzz at the Fair over The Hunt (here, here, and here) and I'm glad to be getting this early attention.  Can't let it sidetrack me, though, from the nitty-gritty task at hand: working on revisions. Any moment now, my doorbell is going to ring.  They'll be a package there, with edited manuscript and editorial letter.  Excited to read them, but, truth be told, with a little trepidation as well.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Announcing the sale of my trilogy!

Publishers Marketplace (March 18, 2011):

Andrew Fukuda's THE HUNT, a new trilogy about a boy who has survived in a world where humans have been eaten to near extinction and who is forced to conceal his identity when he's chosen to participate in the government-sponsored hunt for the remaining humans, to Rose Hilliard at St. Martin's, in a significant deal, in a two-book deal, for publication in Spring 2012, by Catherine Drayton at Inkwell Management (NA).


(I'll blog more later about this).

Friday, March 11, 2011

Shanghai Literary Festival

Just got back a few days ago from a trip to Shanghai where I participated in the Shanghai International Literary Festival.  I co-presented a session with Craig Silvey, a true artist and all-round good guy.  His novel, Jasper Jones, has garnered gobs of recognition in Australia; Knopf bought the North American rights and it's going to be released here in a few weeks.  Do yourself a favor and read this book.

During our co-presentation, it was great to chat with him.  Us writers can recognize that something in one another: an enthusiasm about the craft, a respect for the art, how writing can be such a blessing (but also a curse at times).  You can listen to our presentation here.

Craig and I also share something else in common - the same agent, Catherine Drayton!  It's a small world, after all.  Craig and I could not stop talking about Catherine, about what an uber agent she is.

Last, check out this TimeOut Shanghai story on me and a great review of Silvey's novel here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

love this duet

Something about this music video by David Choi and Kina Grannis really resonates in me.  I must have watched it five times now, and each time I find myself smiling and thinking.  It's perfect.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My new agent

I'm happy to report that I have a new agent: Catherine Drayton of Inkwell Management.  She's a major mover and shaker in the industry: her clients include Markus Zusak, Becca Fitzpatrick, and Nathan Bransford, to name a few.  She has a stellar reputation, and I know my book is being represented by one of the best.

The path to her was fast and furious.  I sent out query letters to agents I thought would be a good fit; within three days, I received nine requests for the manuscript.  On the fourth day, an agent I really admire and respect offered representation - it meant the world to me.  Per industry etiquette, I asked for a week to consider her offer and to give the other agents (including Catherine) who had my manuscript time to respond.

Over the next six days, six more agents offered representation.  I spent a good deal of time on the phone, and quickly realized that each brought something different to the table.  They were all kind, insightful, and - not to sound hokey - wonderful people.  In many ways, this was going to be a difficult decision.

But Catherine made the decision easier.  I knew of her terrific sales record from Publishers Marketplace, her reputation in the industry, and her impressive client list.  I even spoke to two of her clients, Becca Fitzpatrick and Nathan Bransford: they were wonderful and helpful (I thanked Nathan for his blog - it'd given me invaluable tips in writing my query letter) and both were effusive in their praise for Catherine.

Although I wrestled with the decision and really hated to write the "rejection" emails, once I made the decision, I felt absolutely thrilled to have Catherine as my literary agent.  I couldn't be happier.

I had a chance to meet her today at the Inkwell Management office.  It's an impressive office, the shelves bulging with books represented by Inkwell: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, Andre Agassi's Open, The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai, Hush, Hush, The Book Thief.  The Inkwell folks were engaging, interesting, and (this word kept popping into my head) formidable.  I feel so honored to have my book represented by that agency, and by Catherine in particular.

Catherine is a great agent who somehow already knows me well.  When I was leaving, she placed a gift in my hand she somehow knew would make me happy: an ARC of Nathan Bransford's Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Kapow! Fitting, I thought as I left, not only because Nathan indirectly (with the query letter tips) and directly (with the phone conversation) made this happen, but because that was the word that was beating in me afterwards as I walked the Manhattan streets: