I think I am so lucky to be able to introduce the wonderful and talented people I come across constantly. The decision to run a blog might have traumatised me at one stage but these days it only brings me pleasure.
This month I am particularly happy because not only does Kirsty’s writing have humour and warmth but so does she, and she is also generous with her time and desire to help others. When I asked if I could showcase her with a post, I immediately fell in love with her genuine personality and the joy she exuded in her voice and conversations. As a bonus, she is an Aussie (bias much, damn right 😘). As you will see below, Kirsty has had a very interesting life and she has utilised her experiences to add colour and authenticity to her characters and books. I’ll let her tell you in her own words.
Meet Kirsty McManus
I lived in Japan as an English teacher in 2004 and 2005, and every day, I would write down something that would later remind me of how different my life was to back home in Australia. For example, how I ate sushi nearly every morning for breakfast, because they sold it at the 7-Eleven next door to my building. And how I rode along the river each day to the train station, juggling an umbrella if it was raining. One day I collided with a drunken man coming out of a bar and shattered a bunch of video tapes I was supposed to return to the rental store, and I didn’t speak enough Japanese to explain to the clerk what had happened. (Thankfully, he had an English version of the store’s terms and conditions and it was covered under their insurance.)
And then there was the time I couldn’t afford to buy bedding when my parents came to stay, so I carried a futon across the city, which was permanently borrowed from a teacher friend who was leaving the country. She’d been a chain smoker and had burnt holes in the mattress. It required a whole bottle of Febreeze and a week airing on the balcony before it was even remotely suitable for sleeping on.
There were endless nights eating pizza and drinking cheap Chilean red wine with my colleagues before we headed out for hours of karaoke. I got quite good at rapping to Eminem’s Just Lose It.
And this was all just the everyday stuff. Once my husband and I left the city and started travelling around the rest of Japan, we encountered many other unusual experiences—like the overnight ferry to Kyushu, where you pay for a square of floor rather than a seat, and you end up sleeping with your face inches away from a complete stranger’s. Or the hot spring made of mud, where clothing is prohibited, and a curious Japanese man followed us around for a couple of hours.
It was all these things, combined with the copious amounts of reading I did that year (mostly Sophie Kinsella’s work) that motivated me to try and write my own novel. People had responded well to my travel blog, so I invented a few characters and devised a plotline that incorporated my adventures in Japan, and produced Zen Queen, my first novel. I haven’t looked back since.
Look forward to your thoughts
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