I’m very pleased to annouce a guest blogger for today’s post. My friend and fellow writer Jacquie Pearce has a new book out — and we are celebrating her wonderful accomplishment!
MYSTERY OF THE MISSING LUCK is an early chapter book, published by Orca Books in the Echoes imprint.
And to add to the festivities, I think a little contest is in order. Tune in at the bottom of this post to find out more. But first…here’s Jacquie!
Thanks, kc, for helping me celebrate the launch of my new chapter book, Mystery of the Missing Luck (Orca). The story (for kids ages 6-8) is about the relationship between a young girl and her grandmother and what happens when a lucky cat statue disappears from the grandmother’s Japanese bakery (more info on Orca’s website: HERE).
In this post, I thought I’d give you a glimpse into how the lucky cat got into the story in the first place.
The lucky cat statue with one raised paw is a popular welcoming figure in Japanese and Chinese businesses (especially restaurants). It’s often mistakenly called the Chinese Lucky Cat, but it’s actually from Japan (where it’s known as Maneko Neko, the beckoning cat). Maneki Neko’s beckoning paw is said to attract customers and good fortune.
I first became intrigued by the beckoning cat figure while travelling in Japan to research a contemporary YA novel and a possible historical novel. I found myself looking out for Maneki Neko statues and looking into the history and folklore around the Maneki Neko (the first Maneki Neko is said to have brought good luck to a poor temple near Edo in the 17th C).
I also came across Anpan Man, a popular Japanese cartoon character named after a Japanese bun filled with red bean paste. That took me off on a tangent of research on Japanese bakeries (the technique of making bread was introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in the late 19th C) – not to mention manga, anime and a bunch of other Japanese topics (including ninjas).
Does this sound like way too many ideas? That’s one of the dangers of story research (especially if it involves travel to another country where everything is novel and interesting). Even when I stick with one idea, I always end up with way more background information than I can use in a story (kc, I’m sure this happens to you as well).
I ended up writing both the contemporary YA novel set in Japan (Manga Touch, Orca 2007) and the picture book story, while the historical novel is still on the back-burner.
The picture book story about the first Maneki Neko was accepted by a publisher, then cancelled, and is currently sitting with another publisher. With the future of the picture book story uncertain, Maneki Neko somehow joined itself to the bakery research and found its way into a contemporary chapter book story involving a beckoning cat statue and a Japanese bakery, but set in North America. That’s how Mystery of the Missing Luck came into being. I’d also accumulated enough facts, stories and photos to create a
whole Maneki Neko-themed blog: http://luckymanekineko.wordpress.com/
If you’re still following this twisting tail, or even if you’ve jumped to the end, maybe you’re already a fan of Maneko Neko, the beckoning cat, or maybe you’re intrigued by this friendly-looking good luck figure. Or maybe you just like kids’ books. In any case, you’re welcome to visit my blog (http://wildink.wordpress.com/) or the Lucky Cat-Maneki Neko blog and enter the Lucky Cat contest (to win a Lucky Cat prize pack).
We’re also giving away a copy of Mystery of the Missing Luck here on kc’s blog (just leave a comment and let us know you’re interested). There will be more book giveaways on other stops on my blog tour, too (all draws on May 20). Next stop: the blog of Orca Book Publishers: http://orcabook.com/blog/
Hey — me again! Thanks so much for telling us the long and complicated tail of your Maneki-Neko story, Jacquie!
Now, you heard the author — there’s a chance to win a copy of her new book, if you comment here or on my facebook page. And if you link to this post or to Jacquie’s contest, I’ll throw in a copy of Darby’s latest story, FACING FIRE, too!
What are you waiting for?