Author Interview - LA CARMINA

Kawaii! Today we have something different--a non-fiction author! La Carmina is a Harajuku star for Japanese pop culture, fashion, and cuisine. She's come out with two books from Penguin: CUTE YUMMY TIME and CRAZY, WHACKY THEME RESTAURANTS. Doesn't that sound fun? I love bento-making and Harajuku! She's very good at building her platform so be sure to check out her site.

The illustration is of La Carmina! You can see her cat in the upper corner.

1) Thank you for joining us, La Carmina! What is CUTE YUMMY TIME about? And what are bentos?

Imagine opening up your lunch to find
Hello Kitty or Pikachu made out of rice, eggs and ham! Cute Yummy Time is inspired by Japanese “charaben” bentos, or box lunches that are arranged to look like cute faces. I created my own characters -- including one based on my Scottish Fold cat Basil Farrow -- and made recipes that focus on healthy, Western ingredients. You can find out more and order Cute Yummy Time here.

2) I enjoy making bentos! I'll have to try some of your recipes out. What are some examples of how you adjusted bento-making to suit the western palate?

My cookbook builds on the Japanese trend by “thinking outside the
bento box.” There are 72 recipes for all occasions: breakfast, meals, desserts, holidays. You don’t need any special bento equipment to make the cute faces (almost everything can be decorated in under 10 minutes). And I focus on healthy ingredients that are easily found in all Western grocery stores; recipes include a baby chick egg salad wrap, cow-faced cheeseburgers and hobgoblin dark chocolate cupcakes. Cute Yummy Time is a whimsical new approach to cooking that all ages can enjoy.

3) You also have a book called CRAZY, WACKY
THEME RESTAURANTS: TOKYO. It sounds like something I want to bring next time I visit Japan! Can you tell us about the book and some of your favorite wacky restaurants?

In Tokyo, a theme dining experience isn’t complete unless you’re molested by monsters, attacked by ninjas, or charmed by cross-dressing maids! I endured and photographed over 30 such cafes -- and wrote about my ridiculous adventures in
Crazy, Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo. My favorites
are Christon CafĂ© (which features church relics and a “disco Jesus”) and
Alice in Wonderland (you'll see how my friends cosplayed as the characters). I also visited the haunted jail restaurant, Alcatraz ER, with Andrew Zimmern for an episode of Bizarre World (airing this May on Travel Channel!).

4) What aspects of the Harajuku culture inspired you and drew you in? And what exactly is the Harajuku scene like?

As a teen, I remember walking through Harajuku and feeling like I was on Mars. I love the neo-Rococo fashions, cute-meets-Gothic aesthetics, towering Visual Kei hair and theatrical makeup… there’s an exhilarating, experimental pulse heard all through this district. I post street snaps and store photos from Harajuku in this section of
my blog.

5) You've got a popular blog and you have been on TV such as The Today Show and NHK, as well as writing articles for CNN. What's your advice to other writers on building an effective platform to promote themselves?

My blog and YouTube channel are ongoing portfolios for my creative work. I often land writing and TV gigs when people find my site and dig the spooky-cute adventure palace I’ve built. Social networks and blogging are great ways to be in touch with readers and make connections. Be personal, reach out, write diligently about what excites you -- and opportunities will naturally unfold.

Thank you, La Carmina!

CUTE YUMMY TIME can be ordered here. CRAZY, WHACKY THEME RESTAURANTS can be ordered here!




If you're an author, editor, agent, or illustrator and would like a five question interview and a drawing of your character (or of yourself), email me at rtlovejoy (at) yahoo (dot) com. Check out the FAQ page for more information!


  1. Okay, CUTE YUMMY TIME is seriously the coolest thing ever. I'm definitely looking for it the next time I'm at B&N. This was awesome!

  2. great interview! I got a copy of "Crazy Wacky Theme restuarants" for my friend in prison and he LOVED it!

  3. Thank you again for the wonderful interview!! I blogged about it on my site -

    My books are available to order from my site too,

    Domo arigato gozaimasu! ^__^

  4. Whee--thanks everyone! Thanks Carmina, for telling us about your fun books! (And I dig your blog post!)

  5. Wow--really cool interview!! CUTE YUMMY TIME looks awesome!


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