Amber A. Logan joins the Author Spotlight this week to discuss The Secret Garden of Yanagi Inn
Author Name: Amber A. Logan
Book Title: The Secret Garden of Yanagi Inn
Book Genre: Gothic Mystery / Literary Paranormal
Release Date: 11/15/22
Publisher: CamCat Books
Welcome, Amber! How would you describe The Secret Garden of Yanagi Inn?
I would describe it as an adult retelling of the classic children’s book The Secret Garden about an American woman who, while grieving her mother’s death, travels to Japan to photograph a dilapidated inn only to find herself mysteriously tied to the inn’s haunted past.
What sparked the idea for this book?
I love writing retellings because they give me the opportunity to expand upon or change elements of the original story. I loved The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett growing up, but was always slightly disappointed that there wasn’t actually a ghost. So I thought “why don’t I write a version where there are actual supernatural elements?” Knowing I was writing for an adult audience, I decided to really delve deeper into the main character’s grief, as well—an element that I felt was lacking in the original (probably since it was a book for a young audience).
What’s your favorite part about writing/being an author? What do you find challenging?
I love words, so one of my favorite activities is writing elegant sentences or, even better, taking a boring sentence and making it shine. I feel like I get a hit of creative dopamine when I’ve crafted a sentence I’m super happy with, and I’ll read it over and over again. I find my biggest challenge is writing book concepts that have any commercial appeal; I tend to write weird things that don’t fit well within established genres and which are surprisingly difficult to pitch. And the longer I’ve been writing the more I’ve realized how important a concise pitch (and knowing one’s genre!) is at every stage of publishing. This is something I’m always working on improving.
What about the writing/editing/publishing process has been the most surprising to you so far?
I have been pleasantly surprised by how involved I get to be in the publishing process, thanks to working with a wonderful, but smaller, publisher. I didn’t expect to be so involved in the cover design, the selection of the audiobook narrator, and other behind-the-scenes decisions that are involved in the creation of a book. I am super grateful that my publisher (shout out to CamCat Books!) works so closely with authors—I know this is not always the case with larger publishers.
Any words of wisdom you give your pre-published writer self (or to a new writer)?
The publishing process has a lot of ups and downs, and its important to anticipate this and prepare for it. I would tell a new writer to celebrate EVERY victory, regardless of how small. Sent out your first query letter? Celebrate. Got your first full manuscript request? Celebrate. Book out on submission to editors? Celebrate. Don’t wait until you bag that agent or that book deal—recognize the little victories and let them give you little boosts along the way. On the other hand, give yourself emotional buffers for all the rejections and disappointments. While querying, I would send out an initial batch of queries, and then would only send out a new query when I got a rejection. So every rejection gave me a burst of excited “hey, I get to send out a new query now!” and so each closed door opened up a new window of possibility. Also, every time I got a reply from an agent I made myself 100% convinced it would be a “no” so when I opened it up I was either vindicated (“yep, a rejection”) or super surprised and excited if it was a request for a partial or full.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I love travel—particularly international travel. My favorite countries to visit are England and Japan, but I’ve been lots of places (India, South Korea, China, Germany, Norway, Denmark, etc.). My daughter is Japanese, so my family likes to be involved in Japanese activities like learning to read and speak Japanese, doing Kendo (Japanese sword-fighting with bamboo swords), watching anime and Japanese dramas, etc. Almost all of my books involve Japan in some way.
Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.
I am always working on new projects! That’s another way I buffer myself against the peaks and valleys of the publishing process—always be working on the next thing so you’re ready with a new project if the current one doesn’t work out. I actually have three different books in different stages of editing (all retellings, of course): a gothic retelling of an old British classic called The Haunted Woman, a slipstream retelling of “The Shadow” by Hans Christian Andersen set in a near-future Japan, and a middle grade retelling of The Picture of Dorian Gray set at a renaissance festival.
Where can readers find you?
I’m on Twitter @AmberAnnLogan and Instagram @AmberALogan
Thank you, Amber! The Secret Garden of Yanagi Inn be preordered NOW.
Cracked doesn’t always mean broken.
Grieving her mother’s death, Mari Lennox travels to Kyoto, Japan to take photographs of Yanagi Inn for a client. As she explores the inn and its grounds, her camera captures striking images, uncovering layers of mystery shrouding the old resort—including an overgrown, secret garden on a forbidden island. But then eerie weeping no one else in the inn seems to hear starts keeping her awake at night.
Despite the warnings of the staff, Mari searches the deep recesses of the old building to discover the source of the ghostly sound, only to realize that her own family’s history is tied to the inn, its mysterious, forlorn garden . . . and the secrets it holds.
Amber A. Logan is a university instructor, freelance editor, and author of speculative fiction living in Kansas with her husband and two children—Fox and Willow. In addition to her degrees in Psychology, Liberal Arts, and International Relations, Amber holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.
When she’s not writing, Amber enjoys trips to Japan, exploring unusual vegetarian foods, and reading Haruki Murakami.