Author Jesse Q. Suntanto talks about her charming new mystery, 'Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers.'
By Emily Calkins
Jesse Q. Sutanto's newest novel, 'Vera Wang's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers,' will be available to read March 14th, 2023.
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Jesse Q. Suntanto is the author of Dial A for Aunties and four other books for teens and adults that masterfully combine humor, romance, and thrills. Her new book, Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers, follows a Chinese lady of a certain age who sets out to solve the mystery of the dead body in her tea shop and comes out March 14, 2023.
Likewise: Vera is such a fun and memorable character. What inspired her?
Jesse Q. Sutanto: 100% my mom! Vera is basically just my mom with the dial turned up to a hundred. I was very nervous to have my mom read it, but luckily she LOVED Vera. She devoured the book in less than two days and said, "I like this one. I shall give a copy to all my friends." Which is like a standing ovation coming from her.
Likewise: Readers hear from a big cast of characters over the course of the novel. What intrigued you about writing from multiple points-of-view?
JS: I thought it would be fun to do a murder mystery where each POV character is a possible suspect. It was so interesting getting to dive into such different characters' heads, although I definitely found it challenging having to hint at some kind of secret with each of them without revealing what the secret was.
Likewise: What's your favorite part of writing a mystery?
SH: The big reveal! There's something so incredibly satisfying about pulling back the curtain and finally revealing the truth and showing all of the little bits of clues that I've sprinkled along the way.
Likewise: Tell us about three books that inspire you.
JS: So many! Gone Girl is definitely one of them. This book single-handedly changed the entire suspense genre. I used to not read too much suspense even though it's my favorite genre, because it was so male-dominated and every story had some kind of graphic rape scene. But Gone Girl shook things up and now we have such a rich subgenre–psychological suspense–and every day I am thankful that Gillian Flynn wrote this brilliant masterpiece. The second book would be Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett. It's just so hilarious and so subversive, and the witches have totally influenced me because they made me want to write about older women who have run out of f*cks to give! Third book would be Babel by RF Kuang, because it's one of those books where as soon as you read the first chapter, it becomes obvious that it was written by an actual, real-life genius. It's a work of staggering depth and I really need to read it a second and third time over to fully grasp the breadth of Kuang's research.
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