1--What is the title of your latest release?
VILLAGE IN THE DARK
2--What’s the “elevator pitch” for your new book?
Detective Cara Kennedy thought she’d lost her husband and son in a hiking accident, but harrowing evidence has emerged pointing to murder–and she will stop at nothing to find the truth. Intertwined in the story are Ellie Wright, the innkeeper at Point Mettier (where all 205 residents live in a single high-rise building) whose estranged son has just been found dead, and Mia Upash, a half-indigenous young waitress from an off-the-grid village run by women.
3--How did you decide where your book was going to take place?
Since this book is a sequel to City Under One Roof, I knew that I was going to include the fictional city of Point Mettier. I also had had an idea for an isolated community run by women and Alaska is the perfect place to set it in.
4--Would you hang out with your protagonist in real life?
I would definitely like to meet her, but she would be too intense for me to be a best friend.
5--What are three words that describe your protagonist?
Relentless, haunted, righteous
6--What’s something you learned while writing this book?
I was surprised to learn about the similarities between Japanese Ainu and Native peoples of the Pacific Northwest. Their artwork is similar, their spirituality has common elements and the way their respective governments have treated them is also similar. I found that fascinating.
7--Do you edit as you draft or wait until you are totally done?
I try not to edit too much in the first “vomit pass” as I know a lot of things will change and it’s a bit of a waste trying to make things perfect in the first pass. Then I go through several editing passes.
8--What’s your favorite foodie indulgence?
Growing up on Hawaii, I think Leonard’s Malasadas was one of my favorite foods. While I can’t find a Leonard’s here in California, some of the pastries at Café Dulce in Little Tokyo remind me of malasadas and I love their unique churros.
9--Describe your writing space/office!
I currently have my own room/office. I have an ergonomic set-up with an ergonomic chair, an ergonomic keyboard and I use a Wacom tablet instead of a mouse. I also currently have two big monitors—one monitor is for working on and the other monitor is where I have research articles up or email. I love this set up.
10--Who is an author you admire?
There are so many authors I admire, so it’s hard to limit to just one, but I often mention Alice McDermott who was my writing instructor many many moons ago when I was still in college. She has such a poetic way of writing and reading her work has been very inspiring.
11--Is there a book that changed your life?
Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain had a big impact on me. The book is a memoir of a British nurse and activist during WWI and gave a very real and visceral sense of the devastation of war. Vera was also a very strong-willed woman who had to fight to be able to attend Oxford University. I found some parallels with my own mother’s story who was the only woman in her family to attend a university, and she also had some harrowing stories about WWII. Since I have written both about war and capable women, there is no doubt that I have been influenced by these two.
12--Tell us about when you got “the call.” (when you found out your book was going to be published)/Or, for indie authors, when you decided to self-publish.
Maybe not many people have seen or remember the movie Miss Potter about Beatrix Potter starring Renee Zellweger, and probably less people would remember a specific scene in it. However, I always think about the moment when Miss Potter finds out her book will be published. You see her trying to be composed and business-like when she finds out her book is accepted while clearly feeling euphoric on the inside, and once she gets to her carriage, it’s like a magical ride where everything is wonderful. It feels kind of like that.
13--What’s your favorite genre to read?
I’ll have to say literary fiction, but I have started reading more mysteries.
14--What’s your favorite movie?
Again, it’s hard to narrow down something to one, but the original Blade Runner is a favorite. The iconic “tears in the rain” scene with Rutger Hauer really made the movie. But I also love a sense of fun and whimsy so Back to the Future, Big Fish and The Fall are movies I can watch over and over.
15--What is your favorite season?
I love Autumn because living in California, the cooler weather is a welcome relief after the debilitating heat of summer. It’s also nice to see the beautiful colors of the changing leaves and being able to wear your soft, cozy clothes.
16--How do you like to celebrate your birthday?
My husband’s birthday and mine are 3 days apart and instead of having a party, we are pretty low key, so we usually plan to be out of town somewhere and have a nice dinner.
17--What’s a recent tv show/movie/book/podcast you highly recommend?
I loved watching the same series’ that I’m sure everyone else has been hooked on: The Crown, Lessons in Chemistry and Loki.
18--What’s your favorite type of cuisine?
Although I love a variety of cuisines, I’ll have to say that Japanese food is my comfort food, especially the home-cooked or street vendor type - musubi, okonomiyaki, tamago sando and bentos are food that I’ll never get tired of.
19--What do you do when you have free time?
I go on walks, play the keyboard and relax with app games. When I get the opportunity, traveling is always fun.
20--What can readers expect from you next?
I am taking a bit of a break from book writing to work on a radio drama series for BBC World Service. After that, I have an idea for a new mystery book set in Portugal.
Detective Cara Kennedy thought she’d lost her husband and son in an accident, but harrowing evidence has emerged that points to murder--and she will stop at nothing to find the truth in this riveting mystery from the author of City Under One Roof.
On a frigid February day, Anchorage Detective Cara Kennedy stands by the graves of her husband and son, watching as their caskets are raised from the earth. It feels sacrilegious, but she has no choice. Aaron and Dylan disappeared on a hike a year ago, their bones eventually found and buried. But shocking clues have emerged that foul play was involved, potentially connecting them to a string of other deaths and disappearances.
Somehow tied to the mystery is Mia Upash, who grew up in an isolated village called Unity, a community of women and children in hiding from abusive men. Mia never imagined the trouble she would find herself in when she left home to live in Man’s World. Although she remains haunted by the tragedy of what happened to the man and the boy in the woods, she has her own reasons for keeping quiet.
Aided by police officer Joe Barkowski and other residents of Point Mettier, Cara’s investigation will lead them on a dangerous path that puts their lives and the lives of everyone around them in mortal jeopardy.
Mystery | Mystery Police Procedural [Berkley, On Sale: February 13, 2024, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9780593336700 / eISBN: 9780593336717]
Iris Yamashita is an Academy Award–nominated screenwriter for the movie Letters from Iwo Jima. She has been working in Hollywood for fifteen years developing material for both film and streaming, has taught screenwriting at UCLA, and is an advocate of women and diversity in the entertainment industry. She has also been a judge and mentor for various film and writing programs, and lives in California.
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