Tuesday, September 2, 2014

JOE CHIBA- Twelve Question Tuesday

Today I am pleased to welcome Oak Tree Press author Joe Chiba to Twelve Question Tuesday.

1.  Please tell me the three most important things people should know about you. 
I love traveling and I seem to migrate often. As much as I love New York, the city of my birth, I've always wanted to escape it and see the world. What I've managed to conquer so far are 31 U.S. states, a bit of Canada and Mexico, and a slice of China, Japan, Italy, Switzerland and France. I have lived in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maine, California, Hawaii, and Japan. And I'm looking for my next address now!

I love all things Italian. Denying myself the beauty and grandeur of my own rich heritage until 2009 was a pretty big blunder. As soon as I landed in Rome on that first visit, I became connected in a way I cannot describe. Now I can't get enough. I study Italian with Sonia Gil's Fluenz program, I listen to singers Andrea Boccelli, Il Volo, and Alessandro Saffina constantly, and I eat more pasta than ever. I have thousands and thousands of pictures of Italy on my computer. And some of them are not even pictures of food!

I am kind of musical. When I was 13, I started playing soprano bugle in the St. Matthias Drum & Bugle Corps in my hometown. I picked it up very quickly and was soon at the head of the horn line as lead soloist. As I matured, I moved to the Long Island Sunrisers, where, again as soloist, I won Rookie of the Year and Brass Player of the Year awards. I also played trumpet with my high school's Big Band. I loved being in front of the audience, featured as a soloist. Although I am not in a band now, I enjoy playing on my trumpet tunes from the 1940s and'50s, like Sinatra ballads, and popular Italian songs. 

2.  Are you a dog person or a cat person? 
If I had to choose, I'd say a dog person. I don't dislike either, and I do love playing with dogs. I miss Gabby, our white Scottish terrier who was part of my family in New York, and passed away earlier this year. And I can't wait to meet Gigi, the newest addition in New York. But I won't have a dog in my house. I don't know why. 

3.  Tea or coffee? 
Green tea from Japan. I got hooked on it while I was living and teaching English in Japan. I have one to two cups every morning. I believe green tea actually makes me healthier. And I love the taste. The only time I really have coffee is when I'm in Italy. Then it's always espresso or cappuccino. 

4.  Boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, or commando? (Either what you prefer or what you prefer on others.) 
Boxer-briefs. I like the way they hug the skin, but also leave ample breathing space. On others? Depends on who the other is. All three can all be terribly sexy on women. But don't tell my wife I said that. 

5.  What was the first thing you ever wrote? 
Being a romantic, and a family man, I tried to write a fictional time travel story based on how I met my wife in Japan. It's still on my computer. I was embarrassed the last time I looked at it. But I am considering using some of the ideas in it for my next book, The Matchmaker.

6.  When did you finally decide to call yourself a writer? 
About six months ago. When Sunny Frazier sent me an email notifying me I had won the 2013 OTP Romance/Timeless Love Award. I figured, if my book was good enough for OTP, and good enough for Sunny, I was good enough to call myself a writer. 

7.  Which of your works are you most proud to have written? 
I've never worked harder or longer on anything, writing or otherwise, than I have on Summer in Italy. When I read it today, I still get choked up in spots. And then I realize that others will soon read it, too. And I'm not afraid to have that happen. 

8.  What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you? 
In 1998, I found out I had testicular cancer. When I had the surgery to remove my testicle, I didn't know for sure it was cancer. I only knew that there was a mass there. After the operation, I found out. The next two weeks, waiting for my first CT scan, chest x-ray and blood test, and then the results were like being in Hell. But all the tests came back negative. No cancer was ever found. And the last 16 years of follow-up tests have all proved the same. So in a way, the scariest thing that ever happened to me was also a blessing. I had the testicle with the tumor removed, and I was able to get on with my life. 

9.  How did you end up getting published? 
Because of Sunny Frazier's persistence. About two years ago, after about 60 rejections from literary agents and big publishing houses, I decided to go down a different path and send out some queries to small publishers. At that time, Sunny Frazier had been working at Oak Tree Press as Acquisitions Editor, and she just loved my story. She pitched it to Billie Johnson, and they were ready to publish it. But I had sent in the manuscript too soon. An unsettling feeling was gnawing at me. Something had to be changed within the story. I knew that, but I didn't know what. So I held off publishing it then and went back to the drawing board. Eighteen months later, just as I was finishing up the long re-write, Sunny contacted me again. She was looking for a good romance novel for the Romance contest, and thought of Summer in Italy. She asked if it were still available, and it was. What kind of luck was this? I could not believe it. I jumped on her proposition, and we took it from there. 

10.  Would you be food or fighter if the zombie apocalypse were to happen? 
I don't play videogames, and I don't watch zombie TV or movies, so I am out of the loop. But I would fight anything that was trying to eat me. 

11.  What is the most daring thing you have ever done? 
Rock-climbing in New Hampshire. The rock was 800 feet straight up. What was I thinking? I did it, all the way to the top. But what was I thinking? 

12.  Would you rather be rich or famous--and you could only have one-- and why?  The fame would be based on something good, not something like being the best serial killer or anything like that. 
Famous. Because then I could use my fame to influence others to follow their dreams and enjoy the life they envision for themselves. When you're rich, you can buy things. But you can never buy happiness, no matter how much money you have. Like Lennon and McCartney said, "Money can't buy you love." 


When he finds a World War II letter hidden among his dead father's possessions, Joey recalls a long-lost cousin and flies to Italy determined to locate him. However, he never planned on Jeanette, a tall, stunning photographer with a tortuous laugh and a fondness for perfection. A season away from the wedding of her dreams, Jeanette agrees to tag along in a yellow Mini Cooper as Joey searches for his cousin. With lemons, cigars, and spiders along for the ride, a series of doomed misadventures sweeps them across southern Italy, changing them in ways they never imagined. But will their summer in Italy be enough to find the something they never knew was missing? 

Joe Chiba was born in Queens, New York, and spent his youth playing stickball in the street and soprano horn in a neighborhood drum & bugle corps. After Joe received a B.A. from Albright College in Pennsylvania, he packed his bags for Japan, where he taught English. Summer in Italy is Joe's first novel, which has won the 2013 Oak Tree Press Romance/Timeless Love Award. The inspiration for his story came in 2008, after his family in New York were reunited with long-lost Italian cousins. Soon after, Joe traveled to Italy to do research for his novel. Joe lives in Honolulu, Hawaii with his Japanese wife, Sakura.

Visit Joe on his website at http://www.joechiba.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/joechibawrites. And to find out what he thinks about Italy, visit him at his blog, All Roads Lead to Rome, at http://joechiba.wordpress.com

Buy Summer in Italy on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Summer-Italy-Joe-Chiba/dp/1610091590/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1409314563&sr=8-2&keywords=joe+chiba


Joseph Chiba said...

Holli, it looks great! I had a lot of fun with your 12 questions. Thank you so much for having me as a guest on your blog and helping to get me out into the publishing world! And for your very warm and special welcome to the OTP family, too!

Nancy LiPetri said...

I really enjoyed this interview. My married name of LiPetri sort of makes me Italian too, Joe ;) My mom felt the same as you about dogs in the house, so I never had one as a kid. And as an adult I have very well behaved ones that aren't allowed on furniture (that's where the cats are). And I feel the same about my green tea from husband's Asia travel.... Anyway, here's to health and happiness! Thanks for sharing your personal side.

Holli Castillo said...

Thank you so much for joining me here today, Joe. It's always nice to meet other OTP authors. We are definitely a widely and wildly diverse group.

Jackie Taylor Zortman said...

It was fun to learn about you, Joe I am a fellow OTP author. I love the way Holli does her blog with the 12 questions and participated in it myself when my book was first out. Very nice job

Ann K. Howley said...

Joe, I love your spirit of adventure! Thank you for reminding me of the wonderful time I had traveling in Italy years ago. And congratulations on your clean bill of health. Wonderful!