Jess Harper’s personal life is a mess.
She hasn’t had a haircut since 2006 and she doesn’t have time to find better friends than the self-centred associates she’s had since University.
And instead of searching for love, she’s settled for ‘friends with benefits’ status with one of her buddies. Yet none of that matters, because professionally she’s living the dream, and has just scored a highly coveted assignment in Japan with the promise of a promotion on her return.
But when she arrives in Japan, instead of the smooth integration she anticipated, Jess finds herself wrongfully fired, abandoned and broke in a country where she doesn’t speak the language.
Now she must rebuild her life and clear her name. But the friendly locals and allure of the ex-pat lifestyle soon have her reconsidering her priorities and challenging her views on climbing the corporate ladder. With a new job as an English teacher and the temptation of her cute (but already attached) roommate, Jess discovers that although life doesn't always turn out as planned, maybe that's not such a bad thing.
Zen Queen was inspired by a year I spent in Japan in 2004 / 2005. I taught conversational English at a school in Osaka, and it was one of the most fun and crazy jobs I’ve ever had. But because teachers were discouraged from socialising with students outside of class, I didn’t get a chance to learn much Japanese. As a result, I found myself at the international bookstore every weekend, buying a LOT of books. This was around the height of chick-lit’s popularity, so I was reading everything I could find by Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes, Jill Mansell and Jane Green.
At some point, it occurred to me that Japan would be the perfect location to set a chick-lit novel. Also, I had been keeping a blog on Yahoo’s Geocities (Wordpress and Facebook hadn’t taken off yet) - and all my friends said they loved reading the entries. I even had friends of friends say they enjoyed following my adventures.
So Zen Queen was born (although it took six years to arrive in a publishable form!). I tried to incorporate all the wacky experiences and places I visited while living in Japan into a fictional story featuring a slightly impulsive protagonist. I really wanted to showcase what life is like as an ex-pat – from going out drinking and singing karaoke on the weekends, to exploring the cultural attractions in every city, to the tight bonds you form with other Westerners, despite their home countries being on the other side of the world.
The book has recently seen a resurgence in popularity now that I’ve released my latest novel Saved by the Celebutante. The two books are unrelated, but are both in the same zany style and feature a main character who goes on an adventure-filled journey.
Where you can find Zen Queen:
Where you can find Kirsty:
Kirsty’s Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kirsty-McManus/e/B006QCN6AW
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bachelorfanoz (this is for the Bachelor recap blog I also run)
Author website: http://www.kirstymcmanus.com.au