Soniah Kamal

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'Islam is not Pakistan's religion; Marriage is'

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wendy Tokunaga, 'Burning Up', and Madonna and Me

Leading up to my 'Madonna and Me' talk at the Decatur Book Festival, I will be interviewing my fellow contributors. First up is Wendy Tokunaga. In her essay 'Burning Up', Wendy, a songstress herself,  tells a whirlwind tale of how she came to begrudgingly  respect Madonna until there was nothing begrudging about it. My favorite bit from Wendy's essay  "She's  is on a panel with John Oates of Hall and Oates. He doesn't know who the hell she is. She states with confidence that image and a video presence are imperative for pop musicians to succeed today. There's no avoiding it. Vidoe is killing the radio star. John Oates scoffs at her, saying music videos are a passing fad." 

And here's Wendy herself:

Favorite Madonna song and why?

I love “Get Into the Groove” because it makes me think of the scene when she was dancing in “Desperately Seeking Susan,” which was before she became big. But I also like “Burning Up,” especially the video; it’s very cinematic.

Favorite video and look?

There are so many to choose from! I loved how she looked in “Papa Don’t Preach,” but also “True Blue,” “Like a Virgin,” “Lucky Star” and “Like a Prayer.” It’s hard to select because obviously she’s been through so many different image changes and always looks fantastic. In “Music” she emulated the look of J-pop star Ayumi Hamasaki, something not everyone would pick up on, but I got it and appreciated it! She’s always on top of every trend but somehow makes it her own.

Madonna with Nicki Minaj and MIA: Ultra Diva or Desperate?

I refuse to criticize Madonna (unlike Elton John!)—she’s been around for so long now and has paid her dues such that you can’t help but give her props whether you still “like” her or not. She manages to cause controversy even now—this is what she does. She’s committed to her vision and her art and I admire her for that. She can do whatever the hell she wants!

Can you tell us a little about your writing and revision process for “Burning Up?”

As with all of my writing, I revise and revise and revise and then I revise again! And this is what I did with “Burning Up.” And I always read my work out loud, looking for the right rhythm, not unlike singing.

What are you working on now?

I’m about to release my latest Kindle e-book, a short story called “The Girl in the Tapestry” and I’m working on my sixth novel—a thriller/mystery.

Thanks Wendy!

Wendy Nelson Tokunaga is the author of the novels, “Midori by Moonlight” and “Love in Translation” (both published by St. Martin’s Press), and the original e-book novels “Falling Uphill” and “His Wife and Daughters.” She’s also written a nonfiction e-book, “Marriage in Translation: Foreign Wife, Japanese Husband.” Her short story “Love Right on the Yesterday” is featured in Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction: An Anthology of Teen Stories” published by Stone Bridge Press, and her essay, “Burning Up” appears in “Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop” published by Soft Skull Press. Wendy holds an MFA in Writing from University of San Francisco and teaches novel writing for Stanford University’s Online Writer’s Studio, and has taught for USF’s MFA program. She also does private manuscript consulting for novels and memoirs. When she’s not busy writing and teaching, you’ll find Wendy singing jazz, cool pop, bossa-nova and Japanese karaoke with her Osaka-born surfer-dude husband accompanying her on keyboards.

Buy Madonna and Me

Tomorrow Q & A with Laura Barcella



Sept 1, 2012. Decatur Book Festival. Local Prose Stage. 3: 15.
Soniah Kamal will be talking about growing up Muslim with Madonna. She will also read from her essay 'Through the Wilderness'. Please join her.



1 comment:

Anjali said...

What a wonderful idea for a series! I loved these answers! Can't wait to read more from your next guest poster!