Author Interview: Sanae Ishida
Sanae Ishida wrote Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl, which we will have available to buy at our UCU booth. Check our schedule to see when you can get it signed by Sanae!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m originally from Los Angeles but I’ve lived in Seattle, Washington, for almost 15 years now, and I love it. I try not to let the mess get out of hand in my small-ish duplex that I share with my husband and my almost 9-year-old daughter. When I was younger, I was a traveling fiend and I’ve explored many, many parts of the world, predominantly in Asia and Europe. The first time my parents took us “around the globe,” my mom foisted a little backpack on me and another one on my brother and we criss-crossed Europe by train. I was four and he was three. I’d like to do the same with my own daughter one day. In college, I studied Communications, Business and Education and adamantly refused to take art classes. It’s rather ironic that I’m a terrible business person and a lackluster teacher (I taught high school in Japan for a while and my former students can attest to this).
Tell us about Little Kunoichi and what inspired you to write it.
Little Kunoichi is a ninja-girl-in-training who is fumbling in school. Ninja skills don’t come naturally to her, and she’s not sure what to do. It’s mainly a story about learning the value of practice and perseverance and forging friendships – one of the main concepts I included was a Japanese philosophy called “shugyo” which is the training required when embarking on the path toward mastery. It’s a term often used for apprentices in all realms, not just martial arts (e.g. a sushi apprentice would normally shugyo under a master sushi chef for several years). My wish is to emphasize incremental progress and not perfection. I also wanted to draw a really cute ninja girl.
Little K, as we often refer to her in my household, is largely inspired by my daughter, though I’ve had some version of this story in my mind for decades, before I was even married. The idea started percolating as I watched my daughter go through various developmental stages. I was taken by how she would fall, get back up and try again, then fall again, a look of determination plastered on her face. There was one particularly memorable incident on an ice skating rink that really showed her fortitude, and I wanted to somehow capture that spirit of practicing and having “grit”. With a side of humor (or so I hope).
Your book just came out; what was your favorite part of it being released?
The launch party at Queen Anne Book Co. was pretty spectacular. I was grateful to celebrate the occasion with family and friends and my amazing editor, as well as a couple of additional folks from Sasquatch Books (my publisher), who have made the whole book process so fun. We had a pink dragon piñata hand-embellished by my editor — need I say more?
Where can we find your book?
Most places, I believe! From online giants and big box bookstores to independent booksellers and beyond. I highly encourage supporting local book shops.
Do you have any other projects coming up that you can tell us about?
I’m getting close to finalizing book #2, which is non-fiction and completely different from “Little Kunoichi”. This one is for grown-ups, and we’re calling it “memoir-istic”. It will contain personal essays + sewing projects. Also published through Sasquatch Books, it will be available Spring of 2016.
Thanks, Sanae! We’re looking forward to having you at our summer show.