Category Archives: Megume and the Trees

Belated Introductions

Hmm…The length of time between posts here may be proving why I write novels to say what I want to say.  If it takes me four years to write a relatively short novel, and another year to publish it, how long should it take me to write a blog post?

I suppose I’ve skipped a step, and should have begun with an introduction.  You are, well, you.  And I, as I hope you’ve gathered by visiting sarahtoshikohasu.com, am Sarah Toshiko Hasu.  Authoress of Megume and the Trees, publisher at Megami Press.  I’d actually never heard the term “authoress” until I read an article about why it was becoming “correct” to refer to all actors as “actors,” and never specify gender by calling someone an “actress,” much the way – according to the article – we never calls authors “authoresses.”  Naturally, I fell in love with authoress.  Bad feminist me.  But I don’t consider being referred to as female a slur, and I think the feminine phrasing of “authoress” doesn’t hold any diminishing capacity since it has never been widely used during our time.  I suppose if you call me an “authoress” in a really snotty, condescending manner – but you could accomplish the same effect using a gender-neutral term, so…If you for some reason hate women and condescend to the idea that women can write literature…You are very much in the wrong place.  Stay, and seek enlightenment.  Or, please find your own way out (Tip: type a different URL address above).

Other facets of my personage which may make appearances here: I am a Japanese-American, lesbian, yogini (Again with the gendered terms!  Translation: I live yoga.  [I meant to type “like” and typed “live” – I firmly believe those sorts of typos are revelatory.  I do try to live my yoga, so let’s leave it at that.]), dog mama to a small speckled hound named Daphne and a tri-colored corgi named Dylan, indie publisher, feminist, former (and sometimes still) music industry, vegetarian, smart aleck, have Buddhist and Shinto and just plain pagan tendencies, and I used to be a confessional poet.

I don’t know why I stopped writing poetry.  When trying to explain to a friend once how the poems had simply stopped coming as such, I trailed off and she very adeptly filled in, “because you’re done confessing.”  I suppose I am, at least in that manner, and for now.  But one simple element holds true, no matter what I’m writing: my work is emotionally honest.  The rest may be fiction, but the emotions are real.  Maybe that’s why I’m leaving some of my old poems up on this site.  You might notice some themes they share, which has everything to do with the circumstances in which I wrote them – more on that later.

It also seems a good moment to note that you do not have to share any of those above personality facets with me to be here or read my work.  I actually don’t know anyone else who shares all of those characteristics with me, and I know a great many people with whom I share none of them.

I was born in Rochester, NY and have lived in Avon, Ithaca, and Greece, NY; Charleston, IL; St. Paul, MN; Tempe, AZ; and now, finally, Nashville, TN.  I moved to Nashville when I was seventeen to study music business in college, and I most definitely figured out I was gay while working backstage at a country music award show.  The college I attended used to be most famous for its music and music business programs, now it’s most famous for firing its lesbian soccer coach (and that’s actually progress since I was there, because the students and faculty were able to stand up for the right thing).  I changed my college major to English when I got what I wanted out of the music industry and it turned out that what I really wanted was to write.  Unfortunately, realizing you’re a lesbian while interning and working in the Nashville music industry and then becoming a lesbian poet at a Southern Baptist school is a pretty lateral move.  Two things I did not know when I began college: 1) that I’m gay, 2) that the student policy prohibited “homosexual behavior.”

So that’s what I mean by common themes in my poetry…I was coming out in a place where I couldn’t come out in my own writing or I’d be expelled.  As terrible as that sounds, and as terrible as that was, now that I’m older, I’m gleeful about the fact that two of my poems appeared in the university’s literary journal – which was heavily censored, as the school considered the journal “promotional material.”  “In Praise of Wolves” – totally about being in love with a woman, thank you very much.  And totally used in promotional material for a school that wasn’t okay with their soccer coach coming out as a lesbian by having a baby with her partner.  And now my publishing company shares a zipcode with Music Row (some of which is very liberal and loving, contrary to its public image) and said university (ditto).  Because that is how YOU make it better.  Just surviving goes a very long way, even though I can personally attest to what very little comfort being told that offers before you find your way to your own life.

Kate Bornstein said it best: “Do whatever it takes to make your life more worth living, just don’t be mean.”

Personally, I feel you should read my novel.  Because that’s why I wrote it.

Love, peace, and soy nog (I’m rather addicted…),

Sarah

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Trick & Treat: Megume and the Trees!

Megume Proof

Happy Halloween!  So I thought that Samhain would be an excellent time to announce that Megume and the Trees will be released on November 22nd.  But the trick’s on me – Amazon and Barnes & Noble are already selling it!  Crazy, especially since I only approved the final proof on Spirit Day (October 20th) and the ARCs (you know, the advance copies) only arrived at 5:00 PM on Friday.  What can I say?  We live in an on-demand world.  And, really, what better day for Megume to enter the world than All Hallow’s Eve?  It’s all terribly apropos, so I shan’t argue with the universe.

You can now have your favorite local bookshop order you a copy!  In need of a favorite local bookshop?  IndieBound can help you out!  And please, pretty please, ask your local and/or school library to order a copy?

The Kindle version came out long ago – on January 9th, when I celebrated by curling up beneath my little Christmas tree whilst snow glistened picturesquely outside.  I believe I also made my favorite pumpkin spice soy pancakes and coffee…It might have been post-holidays, but I was still in winter wonderland.  Similarly, I shall celebrate the paperback release today by enjoying the chill air and a fancy new Halloween playlist, courtesy of my friend, DJ Lo.

Why the long lapse between the Kindle and paperback versions?  Well, Megume was originally supposed to come out last year, but releasing it in the midst of all of those suicides covered by the media last fall didn’t feel right.  I wrote a novel about suicide because I had to, because I am all too familiar with that state of mind (sixteen years worth of familiar, in fact) – Megume and the Trees is the novel I had to write, the emotions I needed to put to the page before I could let any other story out of me.  I’d already asked To Write Love On Her Arms, The Trevor Project, GLSEN, and the Japanese-American Citizens League if I could include their information in the back of the book.  I didn’t know how much time should pass between the events of last fall and my novel release, and I spent all last autumn agonizing about what the right thing to do might be.  All I learned from that agonizing is that no one can tell you what’s best; you just have to listen to your heart and your gut.  So when the final proof showed up on my doorstep early in the morning on Spirit Day this year, that felt like a good sign to move forward, and to let Megume tell the story she and I have spent years forming for you.  And that’s why I can’t argue with an earlier than expected book release on All Hallow’s Eve, either – the day spirits return to walk the earth truly is the day Megume would come back.  I hope you hear what you need from her story.

Anndddd…If you haven’t seen it yet, me and Goodreads are giving away ten signed copies!  You have until November 20th to enter to win!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Megume and the Trees by Sarah Toshiko Hasu

Megume and the Trees

by Sarah Toshiko Hasu

Giveaway ends November 20, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

So happy Samhain/Halloween/All Hallow’s Eve to you!

Sarah

P.S. Did you know that it was traditionally turnips, not pumpkins, which were carved for Halloween lanterns?  Now you know.

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