aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Dead Baby Girl

My agent sent me a note, saying my Japanese royalty statement had come in for the latest royalty period and I had sold over 6,000 copies of Square in the Face in Japan. Soon I'll have a copy to put in my files. It will be printed on the thinnest of papers - almost translucent, and a slightly odd size for an American filing cabinet.

Last spring, I was at the Portland outpost Uwajimaya, an Asian American supermarket chain in the Pacific Northwest. I was buying food by looking at the picture on the package, a practice I learned when I lived in Germany, and which sometimes is not such a great idea. {Full disclosure: In Germay, I once bought something thinking it was pancake mix, when it was really baking powder. The picture on the box was to show you what you could make with baking powder.) They have books at this Asian store, too, so I tried to find some of mine (three or four have been printed in Japan), but since it was organized in a Japanese way I couldn't find them.

I asked the clerk to check. First she had to get past her amazement that I was an actual author of books they carried. Next, she found something in the computer and told me the name in Japanese. Then in accented English she said, "Book is called Dead Baby Girl?" Well, there are babies in the book, and dead girls, but not dead babies, at least not that I remember. Still, the image on the monitor she turned toward me was familiar from the copies they had shipped to me earlier. I nodded to let her know that yes, I was the author of Dead Baby Girl.

Japanese books look strange to American eyes. Looking like an undersized paperback, they are printed back to front, with a shiny cover on what we would think of as the back. The characters run up and down in long lines. There are little cards inside that are ads, and bound ads, too. I had wondered what they would do with the vanity license plates in the book, since they are jokes or plays on words or letters that work only in English. They just left them in English. Thinking about it now, I wonder if those little in-joke vanity plates hurt my foreign sales in other countries. One of the books sold in France, but that's about it for the series. That and Japan. My stand alone thrillers have sold in several more countries.

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