Emiko Jean is the New York Times and indie bestselling author of Mika in Real Life—a GMA book club pick (and Jean’s adult debut,) and witty young adult novels Tokyo Dreaming, and Tokyo Ever After—A Reese Summer YA Book Club pick. Her forthcoming novel, The Return of Ellie Black, will release in May 2024. Writing more is exactly what Jean wants to do, no matter the age group.
Growing up, Emiko Jean was always a big fan of fantasy novels. Dominated by white characters and heavily influenced by Western mythology, those books both drew her in and kept her at a distance. With her second young adult novel, Empress of All Seasons, Jean, who is half-white and half-Japanese, set out to address the issues that had once convinced her that writing fantasy simply wasn’t in the cards for a girl like her. But Jean was very intentional in her decision to write about such universal experiences through such a specific, Japanese-tinted lens.
Mika in Real Life is about love—particularly the variety between mothers and daughters. Again, Jean says, “I’m very careful to qualify that Mika represents one version of the Japanese American experience…there are so few authors of color, and there are so few novels that feature characters of color, that there’s such a strong desire for that novel to represent all of the experiences of a group… It’s kind of exciting, though, because it really means that I get to write more.”
When Emiko is not writing, she is reading and says most of her friends are imaginary. Before she became a writer she was an entomologist (fancy name for bug catcher), a candle maker, a florist, and most recently a teacher. She lives in Washington, where she loves the rain, with her husband and children (unruly twins).