Hi! I am David Gordon
Thanks reddit! This has been an awesome first experience! Back to my second-rate off-line life now.... Thanks again - David FYI: Here is my amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/David-Gordon/e/B002EJ3UO8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1 Here's my twitter: https://twitter.com/DavidGordonX Here is the reddit discussion of my book that has prompted this: http://www.reddit.com/r/books/comments/1v0jtr/big_in_japan_a_littleknown_american_novelist/?limit=500
Thank you. So you can back up my story!
Hey I really enjoyed reading your NYTimes article. You're an amazing writer no doubt, and I look forward to reading your books/stories etc. Come join us in /r/filmnoir, we're your literary constituency (okay, second rate literary constituency, after the japenese of course).
Thanks I will try to. I am brand new to reddit. Not to film noir. My more recent book Mystery Girl is very much movie obsessed.
That article was a great read! What elements in your novel do you think particularly catches the fascination of the Japanese people?
I don't know! They said it was because there is a tradition there of fictionalized first-person narrators. Also I think there is a longstanding interest in the sort of stuff I wrote about in that book: pulp novels, genre fiction, etc. Also they are just very cool, haha.
Even better! My new book Mystery Girl will be coming out in German by the way.
Mr. Gordon, I personally believe that Second Rate Novelist is a great title, and could have possibly have helped you here in the US. I will also be buying your book because frankly it's interesting and sounds like a good read.
So on to the question. Do you think that you can make it Big here because of this, will your fame from Japan leak over to the US?
I hope so. Maybe I will be known as a famous Japanese novelist here. Right now all the twitter posts are calling me like "obscure novelist is big in Japan" or "modest selling..." Oh well
Have you sold the rights yet for a Spike Jonze film about your experience as a surprise Japanese celebrity?
I am ready for his call.
How does it feel to be kind of a "regular" guy in your home country but at the same time being an acclaimed writer in an other country?
Do you ever think about moving to Japan just for the purposes of enjoying the fact that you're someone famous and well regarded?
As for myself, If I had the choice of being me where I am, or being me but just really famous somewhere else, I'd enjoy it until the tap runs dry.
Yes good point. You are all convincing me to move to Japan. But I am not sure how....
It is interesting that The Serialist has a japanese wiki page.
I hope you'll find similar success in US. Good luck and thank you for the AMA.
It does? Wow thanks!
Someone here kindly found my Japanese translators correctly spelled phonetic name: Aoki Chizuru, I salute you!
And yes I did thank her in person. And yes she did translate my second book and is I hope working now on my third.
What is it like to live two lives, David Gordon?
It is a bit surreal. Unfortunately, the other one seems more exciting than the one I am in.
Is it necessary for those two lives to remain separated?
Yes or the time/space continuum will be sundered.
One thing that I wanted from the article was some speculation as to what appealed to the Japanese about your article. Aside from about one line about your understanding of women, there was little.
Has anyone sat down with you and explained how your foreign novel resonated so deeply with a notoriously insular Japanese culture?
As I said below it is a bit of a mystery, except that there is definitely an interest in Japan in some of the subject matter I write about such as pulp novels, genre fiction etc. Also some of the things people sometimes critique me for here: discussing books and film and art, sexual content, etc etc were singled out there. Or maybe my translator just improved it massively.
I read on Goodreads that you have worked in pornography in the past. Care to elaborate?
I worked as a writer and editor at Hustler, Chic and Barely Legal in the 90s. Though if you care to start an internet rumor about my career as a major porn star, please do.
I got to shake her hand and thank her but that was it. I hope to buy her a dinner some day soon. She translated my second book MYSTERY GIRL too.
Strangely enough the Amazon Kindle edition is more expensive than the paperback edition. Oh well, I prefer the dead tree version anyway.
You have another sale there Mr. Gordon
Thanks! Yes that is strange...and you can re-sell the paper version if you don't like it.
Hi! Great article, by the way. I think I'll be picking up The Serialist, sounds great! Since becoming so famous in Japan, have you made a conscious effort to learn the language? And have you seen the film since the premiere?
No. I probably should try to learn more. I am not very swift with languages. As for the film, I am making arrangements to see a subtitled version but so far I have just seen bits on my computer, not the whole thing.
What kind of royalties did you make off of the movie sales? (If you don't mind me asking)
I don't get royalties from a film - they bought the "rights" to make it in Asia. I was still quite pleased of course, since it was totally unexpected.
Have you thought about turning your story into a novel? It seems just surreal enough to pass as a novel.
I'm also excited to read your book!
I am thinking about it right this second...
Hey, thanks for doing this AMA. I've always wondered how writer's feel when their book is turned into a movie. Have you seen the movie and how do you feel about it? So many times have I seen a movie after I've read the book and would get so angry that they left out so many things!
Hi...please bear with me I am not tech-saavy at all...
I did see the movie: but I saw it in Japanese with no subtitles at the premiere so I can't fairly say. It was awesome....for me!
The acting seemed very intense and emotionally they seemed to capture it but really it was hard to say. Maybe I would have been more picky and judgmental about an American film.
Thanks for the reply! That's really cool and congrats on making it to the big screen!
How did your Japanese fans react to your surprise at being famous? Some writers have quite a reputation for being eccentric or socially awkward, did you feel you were categorized that way?
Congrats on your success! Awesome story.
If my social awkwardness and eccentricity wasn't already obvious your fellow reedit-folks have pointed it out extensively! I am a person who mostly sits at home in my socks making stuff up so yes it was bizarre and amazing.
Well, there is "oh my gosh, he's so weird, isn't it adorable?!?" Or the "oh crap, this guy is going to start sniffing his armpits, how awkward!"
I don't know... He seemed pretty cute to me. I'd do him.
Thanks for the support kitty!
Which of your books is your favorite? Is it the Serialist, because it is the most popular?
Well I have only published two, and I suppose like children we love them all despite their problems. I do think my newer one MYSTERY GIRL is stronger, in terms of my skills as a writer. But really I try not to look back - I feel much more excited thinking about the one I am writing. Also I have a short story collection coming in Fall 2014, so that's pretty thrilling.
Hey David, congrats on your success, it is a brilliant story. Could it be because you had an excellent Japanese translator? Edgar Allan Poe was far more popular in France than the US initially because he had poet Charles Baudelaire translating him. Perhaps your translator has added something to the mix? Not to detract anything from you or your writing, but as a possible explanation for its explosion in Japan.
Yes I agree I said that in Japan: the translator must have improved it, but she says not. My book is popular in France too by the way, where it is known as Polarama.
It's out on DVD now in Japan as well. It even has a Collectors Edition. No subtitles, though for those who might need them, you'll have to wait until someone fan subs it.
Thanks for the info. You know more than me.
how much more money have you made since that link exploded on reddit?
Good question. Not much. Judging by comments I think I sold like ten books. One person said he was borrowing from a friend, maybe.
I think I need a break everybody! If I don't get up and move soon my legs will atrophy. I am going for a run, since I heard a rumor it is nice out in NY today. I will check back here and answer more later if you care to add. And thank you all for this amazing response! Really...this is almost as intense as the trip to Japan..in a virtual at home way of course.
To each their own! I will say I am interested in picking up your book now! American version of course...
Thanks! I hope the American version is as exciting as the Japanese seems to be
Relax! Reddit's got your back now. :)
Are your family and friends aware of your overseas success? How have they reacted? Also, will this influence future publishing of your novels? For instance, do you think that there will be more advertising/hype for your American novels now?
I am looking forward to reading your novels. Congratulations on the awards, movie and your newly discovered celebrity status! : )
Thanks! Yes all my family and friends know. But maybe they thought it was all a big delusion until now.
Have you seen the documentary "Searching for Sugar Man?" Similar event except with a musician. Do you ever have to convince people in the US that you actually are a famous novelist in Japan, and how do you do so?
I have gotten stuck in random conversations and felt obliged to show random people my FB page on my phone or links to the movie trailer. It's awkward.
Jay Kang sent me here. How do you two know each other? Could you see yourself writing for Grantland in the near future?
Yes I have the great honor of calling Jay Kang a friend! We went to school together.
Hi David! I loved your New York Times article; it was such an interesting and surreal piece, so I can only imagine what that experience was actually like. I realize how difficult it is to be objective about your own work, but do you have any suspicions as to why your novel took off in Japan? Is there thematically or structurally anything that you believe may be more appealing to Japanese readers? Or was it simply good exposure and a "lucky break", which unfortunately did not also occur in the states? Thanks!
Well Tit-wrangler, as I said below it is a bit of a mystery, except that there is definitely an interest in Japan in some of the subject matter I write about such as pulp novels, genre fiction etc. Also some of the things people sometimes critique me for here: discussing books and film and art, sexual content, etc etc were singled out favorably there. Or maybe my translator just improved it massively. Or maybe Japanese people are just super cool and have awesome taste in literature.
Now I'm curious what an English translation of the Japanese-translated book would read like!
But maybe I should add a question: what's your favorite novel?
Impossible to say! I am too much of a geek to pick favorite books, movies, bands - as you will see if you read my books. Some of my characters argue about these very things.
Is this your first time on Reddit?
Yes! I am a bit overwhelmed. hope I am managing ok
Congratulations on your success! I'm always interested about the writing processes used by various published authors. What does your daily writing schedule look like? How long did it take you to produce, from inception to the acceptance of the manuscript, The Serialist?
I pretty much wake up and write every day...if I can, which is a big if depending on life, work, travel etc. But definitely I need to keep at it and put in a lot of hours. I think THE SERIALIST took about 16 or 18 months, then a blank space while it was being sold and edited etc, then a few more months working with my editor. Two years all together?
Are you going back to Japan soon?
All of this excitement is making me think I should be there right now! I am waiting to be invited.
Has the success in Japan improved sales in the US?
nope! haha -- but I did get nominated for an Edgar Award and that helped. And who knows...maybe this will help too. Also this was some time ago. I have already published another book since, called Mystery Girl.
How do you live two lives? Secret identity? Hannah Montana?
It is easy because no one here cares.
i actually clicked on this link because i thought maybe the british prime minister was doing an AMA. you are a much more interesting guy than david cameron though! and my memory is obviously a little spotty! thanks for the advice about writing...
Thanks! Though if he did one it would be pretty lively I'm sure.
Did you actually cash in on the sales in Japan for your book before it became big out there? Either way congrats!! :-)
I will get royalties from Japanese book sales yes. I don't think I will quite be in Harry Potter land but it will be very welcome to me.
What was the first thing you did when you realized you were famous?
Google myself of course. Then wait for the fan mail, love letters and nude pics. I am still waiting...
Leave an email address at the end of your next book.
good idea thanks
Do you feel lots of pressure regarding your second book?
how was it watching a movie based on a book that you wrote in another language? Did you understand the plot? and was it the same thing you in-visioned?
It was dreamlike. I understood the basic plot but not dialogue. Still the big scenes seemed very emotionally true, and the characters felt like my characters. Though I didn't think they would all be Japanese.
Hi, thanks for this AMA, when you were writing your book, did you ever think that it would be turned into a movie?
Yes of course I'm sure all writers imagine it sort of vaguely, like what would be a good song for this scene, etc. But I certainly did not imagine a Japanese movie.
In what ways was the hotel 'futuristic '60s'?
I meant that it was very modern but in an older way. It was a very fancy, very luxurious but more traditional hotel, so for instance there was a console with huge buttons to control lights, drapes etc.
Do you like any Japanese Novelists, and do they like you? Do you ever get compared to any of them?
Banana Yoshimoto, Haruki Murakami, etc...
Yes. I like Murakami, Ogawa, Kono Taeko, Yoko Tawada. Also great older novelists like Kawabata, Tanazaki, Mishima. But as far as I know, they never heard of me.
Have you ever read Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein?
He is an American who became a vice journalist in Japan (and wrote in Japanese) and his memoir really opened my eyes to a lot of things about Japan.
Great article by the way, I think you're a great writer.
Thanks! I will check it out.
Do you speak any Japanese ?
No! I tried to learn a few words to be polite but I am already forgetting them.
Are you my English teacher? :O
It's possible. Do your homework.
Looking back, is there anything you would change about your book now that it's such a success?
I'd make it a trilogy!
I am definitely going to pick up a copy of your book sometime soon! I definitely share the whole Japanese fascination thing and I'm kind of starstruck that you're famous there. What are your best tips or tricks for writing? Writing habits?
Just to keep at it. Really I should be writing now, but I will count this as 'work.' I'm sure there are more clever schemes but I just kept writing stuff and getting rejected for a couple decades...
When did you decide to start writing?
I have been writing my whole life, since childhood. So it was really like a six-year-old's "decision."
Hello, David! I really enjoyed "The Serialist" and the NYT piece. It is nice to see that you're getting more recognition! I know that your first book was received well by critics, but has the experience in Japan, and the award nods, changed your previous views about the audiences you are writing for and, if so, how has that affected your writing process? Thank you, and good luck!
It is really gratifying and encouraging to feel like there are people out there who like and understand my work and that pushes me onward for sure. And a bit of money always helps. But otherwise the process is the same...I don't really feel like I have much choice: I get an idea that preoccupies me and try really hard to write it the way I imagined, then hope for the best.
There were a few questions posed in the original post that I'd like answered. 1) What's the money situation? Did you 'make it big' or get screwed out of Royalties? (Not asking for exact number) 2) How much credit do you think the translator deserves for the book? (Did they change it, or just do a well done faithful translation?) 3) When are you moving to Japan?
1) I answered some of this below. I get royalties for book sales and they will hopefully be substantial, but not Harry Potter big. I have gone from starving artist to lower middle class maybe. 2) I give the translator a lot credit but she gives it back to me. 3) I am thinking about it now...
How come you didn't realize you were Japan-famous untill the award ceremonies and such? Weren't you getting money from your massive sales in Japan?
I knew it was popular but of course I was still stunned. Plus I could not read my press there etc.
Hello there, great article! Will your future publications be aimed at your Japanese readers or be influenced by Japan in any way?
Not really. I wouldn't know how. Although as I have said I have been a huge fan of Japanese books, movies etc for a long time. I spent about ten years learning (as total amateur) about Japanese art so I am drawing on that for a project - but I don't know if anyone in Japan will care what I think.
How is Mystery Girl doing in Japan?
Well thanks! I think...it takes a while to figure it all out. But the critics and people I met there said they liked it better.
I have given a couple of Japanese friends the book in Japanese. But asking them to read it twice -- that would be a very good friend.
Do you know who translated your novel into Japanese?
Yes! I met her and thanked her profusely. I am searching for a phonetic English version of her name now...
Her name is Aoki Chizuru (surname first).
Japan is bizarre and awesome, your story is bizarre and awesome, and I wish you the best of luck.
I'm not a conspiracy nut but I'm curious...the Time article was a self submission (loved the writing there by the way) and now you're here following the reddit splash.
Was this all orchestrated as a fiendish marketing campaign?
(For what it is worth, I wish you mighty success and will be buying my copy of The Serialist momentarily!)
Well that is hardly a conspiracy! Just one lonely gun man
Hey David, I have an entire novel nearly ready to go conceptually, though I have a hard time finding the motivation to actually pen the novel itself. Do you have any tips on how to fight through such laziness?
Well honestly when the pain of not doing it outweighs the pain of actually doing it...you do it. I go through this every morning.
You said you went from starving artist to lower middle class on the back of your writing. You sir are my MF'n spirit animal..er, author. I'm just waking up after an all night writing sesh (pen and ink in a composition book) and this is exactly the type of article I needed today. Here is my question. Did you spend your decade in rejection purgatory whilst querying or did you already have an agent scouting for you? Also, was it harder to find an agent or a publisher?
You are living the dream and are my hero!
It was more like two plus decades I"m afraid and I was rejected by many agents, publishers, magazines, etc along the way. I also had several agents who for whatever reason couldn't help. Finally I got lucky. Who knows why? Good luck!
Loved prince avalanche
Thanks I tried.
You are such a humble person! What's the biggest difference about your life right now after returning from Japan? Are you still the not-so-known author or has it promoted your image? What has your friends/family said about your recent success, are you still being treated the same way?
My friends and family thought I was pranking them till now... Seriously there is not much difference, I'm afraid. My life is really good but no one cheers on the subway, no free drinks.
Do you wish you could go and live in Japan where you're successful?
All of your comments about how awesome it would be are making me want to now...
Have you considered learning Japanese? Also if you do become fluent enough in Japanese would you consider writing a novel in Japanese, rather than having to go through a translator, in the future?
Considering that I have learned like five words so far it would have to be a very simple story. Maybe I could write a poem.
Mr. Gordon, how did you first learn of your success in Japan? Was it a call from your publicist or royalty checks or something like that?
I knew it was being translated there of course. But I found out about the popularity bit by bit..as in the article I wrote. My Japanese publishers or the agents who handle things there would send a clip or a note about winning something...but I did not know what to make of it. I was just like, "that's nice."
No question. Big fan.Thank you for doing this :)
Great article, Mr. Gordon! I know your an author, but you mention that you like to run in your article, so I'd rather ask you about that! Do you have a favorite place to run?
Hi. Yes I am a runner. Not a star at all but I run 4-5 times a week. I live in NY so I run the parks here. Central Park, Riverside Park, East River and now Prospect Park in Brooklyn.
Konnichiwa, David! Loved the article this morning. Do you know if Niryuu Shousetsuka will be showing in the US?
I don't know of any plans. I am hoping for a commercial DVD release with subtitles at least -- so I can try to impress people here.
Did you keep a journal of your dreams while you were on this whirlwind trip?
I never remember dreams and I am too lazy to keep a journal
First, fantastic article ! Thanks for sharing your story.
Does any part of you want to move to Japan and relish the fame?
Several parts! I don't seem to be clever enough to make it happen yet.
congratulations Mr. David. it seems like you are living my dream bro ! im actually writing a fantasy novel with japanese mythology characters and since im studying japanese i hope to someday translate it and publish it on japan. any advice or suggestions ?
It sounds like you already know more than me! I would say just follow your own interests and enthusiasm and it will connect with the people who share them -- like with me. That is the great thing about books, it is a very close connection to strangers, across time and space.
Have you talked to the people who translated your book into Japanese? Did they work on your second book?
and have you though to ask someone to read parts of your Japanese translation back to you in English?
edit: found the answer to my first and second questions.
Yes and yes. I think that would be tricky. I tried plopping stuff I saw online in google translate but it was nonsense. I posted some on fb and twitter for fun somewhere.
Mr. Gordon, what do you do when you get "stuck" in your writing?
Well I just keep banging my head against the wall I'm afraid. Not sure that is wise advice but I am stubborn
Have you watched Lost In Translation?
Not since it came out but I am due to re-watch it with a new perspective I think.
Did writing for pornographic magazines prepare you in any way to become a novelist? If so, how?
I think so! I had to plumb my unconscious on demand and serve up things I might not have wanted the world to share or judge and expose them to the light and do it on deadline or I didn't pay my rent.
Is it fun doing an ama?
It is but I am going to have to stop soon and eat. I missed breakfast and lunch
Was the twitch here from sheer nervousness or do you just have that naturally?
Also, that article was an excellent read and I think I could relate.
Hmm...I never noticed it before that video...I hope I don't do it all day. Thanks for reminding me to be more self-conscious.
Do you intend or project on going back to Japan anytime soon?
Hello David Gordon, how are you? My question is simple. You can find it posed previously.
Do you like the tentacles?
Would you rather fight a horse sized duck or a hundred duck sized horses?
Horse-sized duck. I don't think they have teeth. Or claws.
Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus?
I don't really follow either but I would guess Miley seems like more fun.
I was living in Japan from 2009-2012 and even the English version of the book was being widely advertised at book stores. I bought and read your book for reading during train ride commutes thinking it was a New York Times classic! It was great, thank you for filling my void during my commutes!
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