Book Jacket


rank  Editors Pick
word count 21712
date submitted 09.09.2010
date updated 17.09.2012
genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction
classification: adult

Yuko Zen Is Somewhere Else

Simon Paul Wilson

My name is Yuko Zen and I am somewhere else....


Have you ever read a diary that didn't belong to you?
Chris Winter had never done such a thing, but after a strange encounter in a Cantonese take-away, he happens across the journal of a girl called Yuko Zen.
Throwing his morals to the wind, Chris starts to read the journal and is quickly pulled into the world of the mysterious Miss Zen. A world with tales of Buddhist dogs, encounters with hedgehogs in yogurt pots, rumours of singing dragonflies and a girl named Pixie.
It is when Chris is totally hooked, that the journal takes an unexpected turn.
It begins to talk to him.....

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HarperCollins Wrote

‘Yuko Zen Is Somewhere Else’ by Simon Paul Wilson

While visiting his local Chinese take-away, a young unlucky-in-love man named Chris finds a journal. Inside he discovers the intimate story of a young woman called Yuko Zen, of her growing love for her best friend, Pixie, and of Pixie’s untimely death. Around the time of Pixie’s death, Yuko is haunted by a bad omen called Xue, who warns her that she is meant to be 'somewhere else'. This somewhere is with Pixie. Yuko awakes one night to find Pixie beside her, alive. She explains that they are in a separate reality and that they now have the opportunity to change their lives - with Chris’s help. Chris discovers just how important he will become inthe shaping of Yuko's - and his own - future.

I really enjoyed this novel. The story is relayed through Yuko’s journal entries, which act as chapters and give a great sense of time elapsing and of context. The relationship that develops between Yuko and Pixie is believable and filled with the language and emotions of teenage girls, though occasionally the language borders on being too cutesy/childish. The horror element introduced with Xue as an encapsulation of foreboding summons images from the Koji Suzuki books ‘The Ring’ and ‘Dark Water’ and fitsin seamlessly with the tale, adding a dimension of creepiness along with intrigue and suspense. However, several self-referential mentions of Yuko feeling like she is in a Japanese horror movie are unnecessary.

There are several weak areas in the structure. It takes quite a while for the story to get going; the first few ‘chapters’ are filled with recollections from Yuko’s childhood that don’t seem to be leading anywhere, so I would recommend condensing these. Once the story settles on Yuko and Pixie’s friendship, however, the narrative finds its focus. I also don’t think the shift in time where Yuko finds herself 'somewhere else' with Pixie after Pixie's death is well enough explained. This crucial part of the narrative needs to be made totally clear, but it seems rushed. That Chris and Yuko share special powers is also touched on but not developed which, again, needs to be clarified in the concluding chapter.

Chris’s role in the novel is slightly unbalanced. Little sense of him is gained throughout the novel and the few times where the focus shifts to him reading the journal need to be signposted by italics or indentation, to prevent them running together with the main body of the journal and jarring. I found it slightly unbelievable that Chris would read the entire journal, only to discard a letter that reveals his fate at the end. Perhaps adding more detail to these sections would flesh out his character and make the shifts back to him more substantial.

This is a supernatural story of love and the loss of friendship that reminds me, in parts, of Audrey Niffenegger - particularly ‘Her Fearful Symmetry’. Like Niffenegger, the central characters are well developed and the horror/sci-fi elements sit alongside a story of everyday life effectively, while not transcending far enough to classify this as a pure Suzuki-style horror story. The focus on crossed lovers in surreal circumstances also has minor elements of Haruki Murakami and, while this author may not have the same mastery of language that Murakami has, as I believe the story is aimed at a younger market, it succeeds in what it sets out to do. With the language itself reflecting the point of view of a young woman, I would steer this toward the female late-teens to late-twenties market and think that, while not obviously highly commercial, this is a sweet, well-written, involving and, for the most part, well-executed book that will appeal to anyone wanting a story of friendship with an alternative twist. I am recommending this be further considered - if the narrative can be tightened up and a thorough proofread performed to iron out a littering of small mistakes within the text.


Ellie S Lee wrote 989 days ago

Intriguing, enigmatic and quite remarkable.

We are drawn into the fascinating world of Yuko Zen and beyond, sneaking through her journal as she makes the transition into a young woman encountering good and bad, love and fear, the known and the unknown. There is a pleasing calmness about your book, whether this is the satisfying pace and flow of your writing, the tranquillity of Yuko’s mum, or the underlying philosophy I don’t know; a serenity almost, an acceptance, but with sudden jolting explosions and happenings.

I very much liked the form and structure of this, the journal (both what is written and what was written and is no longer there) holds the attention, the suspense builds and the double twist at the end is fantastic. It is thought-provoking, the flutter of a butterfly’s wing; a book for anyone who has ever wondered what might have been.

I shall be interested to read an HC review of this, it is so different and deserves to be recognised.


Lucia13 wrote 989 days ago

Yuko and Pixie are two of the most captivating characters I've ever read. I think you're really onto something with them. I felt that they were easy to identify with as a female reader and they were intrinsically alluring.

Yuko is a clever girl and it's fun to voyeur over the odd things she does. Her uniqueness is like staring at the sun; it morphs and is utterly lovely, and even though you know you should look away and stop reading her diary, you can't help it. Luckily her experiences were interesting and didn't burn my corneas.

I like the relationship between Yuko and Pixie. I see a lot of honesty in their relationship and it held this purity that made them even more compelling. I also enjoyed how you constructed a young female character that had a positive relationship with her mother. I feel like literature has strayed from this lately and it was refreshing to see.

Many passages carefully teeter on the verge of being a fantasy, but they never go too far. This approach emulates your story line, so I liked how it all fit. It reminded me of the geishas and how they were very skilled at only showing small portions of their skin yet could attract men easily by leaving more to the imagination. Along another theme, but fitting within the same technique is how Yuko divulged her other-timeliness but kept the explanation quite subtle.

This isn't only one of the more unique books on Authonomy, it is also very 'catchy'. I see this as a major positive for your book. The title is memorable, the characters are ones readers will want to invest in and things like this sell books. Good luck with this!

RossClark1981 wrote 1148 days ago

- LF40 Review -

Yuko Zen was a relatively recent discovery for me but has quickly become my all-time authonomy favourite. I got right into it from the first chapter, losing countless hours of sleep reading it, and there’s not a thing I didn’t like about it. Every time I thought about what I’d put in a review I was at a bit of a loss because there’s nothing about the book I’d change. Apart from the fairly regular occurrence of typos the book is incredibly polished and I always had the feeling that everything is as it should be – no changes necessary. Because of this, my comment here isn’t so much a review as a list of things I liked followed by one minor note. So, here goes. Things I like about Yuko Zen:

The Zen girl herself
-The narrative voice is deceptively simple and almost innocent. But Yuko nevertheless comes across as mysterious, strong-willed, intelligent and confident yet vulnerable and self-conscious at the same time. She’s cool. She likes weird stuff and unusual people. She likes cool music. She’s hot. She’s into girls, apparently. She must be my wife.

The mystery of it
-Having Chris find her diary is a great plot device. The girl is full of mystery and intrigue as soon as she’s enters the scene. We want to know all about her and as we read her diary we get a fantastic voyeuristic kick out of it. But the girl remains a mystery. No matter how honest she is with us she doesn’t give us everything of herself at once and we want more, more, more.
-And then the diary starts talking to Chris. He needs to know why – and we sure as hell do too.

The other characters
-As we read we find a whole host of characters that interest us, primarily because Yuko herself seems to be so enthusiastic about people and interested in them and we share that enthusiasm with her. As of chapter 30 none of these other characters is more interesting than Pixie.What a fantastic creation. She’s just as mysterious as Yuko, ten times as confident and sexy in her own way. But it’s the hints of malice in her that keep on resurfacing now and then that makes her so great.

The short chapters
-So many great scenes and deep developments contained in such a short space. That the chapters are so short really keeps you skipping along as the reader and involved in the story.

-There’s such an originality to this. The characters are all unique individuals and the settings, Yuko’s home, the nightclubs, the college, everything – is just that bit out of reach so that we feel almost as if in a dream. Where the hell are we, by the way? Or, more to the point, who cares?

The minor wee point
-I really wanted to know what was going on in Chris’s head and every time I got to the end of a new chapter I was hoping I’d find out next. Usually a new chapter without Chris would start with an exclamation of ‘Goddammit!!’ on my part, followed by less caring as I became re-engrossed in the story and resumed my simultaneous sexual fantasizing about Yuko.

As I say – best authonomy book ever. If this doesn’t make it into print then...well, it'll suck.

daveocelot wrote 1052 days ago

Hello Simon,

I read all this book last night. Because I'm a big boy and I wear big boy pants.

I didn't think it was much cop at first. I like nice, clear concise prose but yours seemed a bit overly simplistic. That was just the first chapter or so though, when it was all from Winter's perspective. As soon as you shifted into Yuko's diary it was brilliantly fitting - mirroring her youthful, fun mindset. Also the simplicity of the writing made it much easier to grasp some of the big ideas that feature later in the novel.

Once I got into it I couldn't stop myself. There was alway at least one new or intriguing idea in each chapter, drawing me in to see what could possibly top it in the next. And I was never disappointed. Chapter 19 made me jump!

You spun such a convincing web to trap me that, like the narrator, "I didn't question the bizarre things that I had read. I simply took them as fact". The ending was perfectly realised.

This might be one of the oddest books on here, but that's also what makes it one of the best.

This book is the cat's pyjamas.


Nobody. wrote 505 days ago

Beautiful. Haunting. :)

Edentity wrote 514 days ago

WHAT???? Yes, of course I want to read more. Why isn't this published? WHY?

Tod Schneider wrote 573 days ago

Stunning opening chapter! Your writing is superb, the story line intriguing and the hook expertly set.
Critiquing-wise, the absolutely only thing I might tinker with is the script-style dialogue. I'm just not sure why it's there, as you handle dialogue expertly -- I'd stay in novel formatting. But that's just me, and it sure didn't stop me from enjoying myself. I'm so impressed when a chapter leaves my head spinning a little. Six stars!
Best of luck with this!
And if you'd like, do drop by for a look at the Lost Wink.

Shelley Jean wrote 578 days ago

As I sit here in tears, I remember my Jana. It is not the same. She did not die, but she did disappear from my world just the same. She is elsewhere and my heart will always be a little diminished without her sunshine. Thank you for writing this beautiful story. I sat here and read the whole thing hardly moving at all. It is unique and lovely as well as being modern and very young. It is fresh and wise. Very Zen. I think I may have to remove someone from my shelf and place this book there instead. I have to think about it. Either way I am giving you BIG Stars.The only thing that really needs attention is the change in format after chapter 11 or 12, and some typos starting in chapter 10.



Cyrus Hood wrote 721 days ago

The concept for this tale is intriguing, this guy Chris is kind of lost, seems to be living a kind of aimless existence ( it doesn't say that as such in the text, but that is the impression at least). His relationship with Mr Kim is humorous but clearly exists only on one level. And then there is this young girl Yuko Zen, a well drawn character that makes the reader sit up and pay attention from the first moment we come across her. The discovery of the journal opens all sorts of possibilities, some are kind of forbidden and are an expertly laid bear trap for the reader.

I have only read four chapters but I am already intrigued by this well crafted tale. I could not fault the grammar and saw no typos.

Excellent, intelligent stuff and it will go on my watch list right now with a fist full of stars. I assure you that I will come back to this book soon.


Cyrus - Hellion 2

riantorr wrote 757 days ago

Perhaps eliminate the title and white space at the top so we get right to the great writing!
Best Regards,
Rian Torr
New London Masquerade

riantorr wrote 757 days ago

Perhaps eliminated the title and white space at the top so we get right to the great writing!
Best Regards,
Rian Torr
New London Masquerade

Al Sucavacian wrote 789 days ago

I liked this book. Fun and fast to read, I wondered what would happen to Yuko next.

swhittaker79 wrote 817 days ago

Wow, this is very readable.

You've got an excellent narrative voice. I like, in particular from the first chapter, the exchange between Kim and Winter. It's so everyday, yet for some reason I was completely captivated.

Overall I didn't find much of anything that made me stop and say, 'this doesn't belong.'

It's very well written and you've got something really publisheable on your hands.

Simon R. Willis wrote 859 days ago

I don't suppose there's a lot that I can say after the rather lengthy review by HC. I will say, though, that I'm thoroughly enjoying reading it (5 chapters in!) and can't wait to read the rest. Very enjoyable book. I agree to a certain extent with what HC said about the story taking a while to get going due to Yuko's childhood recollections. I can fully understand though that this is very pertinent. I know this review won't be as much help as the HC one, but rest assured that I'm loving your novel. Keep it up. Highly backed and rated!

WiSpY wrote 860 days ago

Congrats - that's a decent review and further consideration is a good sign. Well deserved and well done :)

Scott Toney wrote 861 days ago


Wow! Wonderful review! Congrats!

Have a great day!

- Scott, The Ark of Humanity

Warrick Mayes wrote 864 days ago


A lovely opening chapter.
A wonderful description of a mysterious and beautiful young woman. A story told in a lovely flowing style, error free and at an easy relaxed pace..

Best regards

susannah wrote 936 days ago

Of course you will get a HC review soon but i thought i might as well add my own thoughts anyway. You have created very distinct and believable characters and i love the portrayal of the relationships between them. And i thought that the beginning was very effective- please don't cut it and replace it with Chris Winter felt hungry! (I had a quick look at the comments)
The structure is great, the list, the journal, the letters made for a very different and interesting read- especially for a book aimed at adults.
What i would say is that i felt that i was waiting a long time for something to happen. i read to chapter 24 and i still have this sense. the pitch is brilliant and really pulls the reader in- but the problem is that we know that the journal is going to talk to Chris and I spent 18 chapters waiting for this to happen. of course these are just suggestions...
i felt that the book left me expecting more mystery than it has given yet and i feel that this contrast detracts from the great scenes, characterisation and writing in the novel. if i hadn't read the pitch i think i would have given up and i wonder how many general readers will keep reading.
perhaps you could make the journal 'talk' to Chris earlier and give hints throughout that something mysterious is going to happen throughout the book. it would also be good to give Chris more of a 'part' - he was introduced so well at the beginning.
of course this is just my opinion- i'm really interested to see what HC says about it- the structure is very different from most other adult books and it is very well written.

PaddyClaretmen wrote 939 days ago

Just a small observation really. I don't know where this is set, but would there really be any ringtones on the Underground? Mobiles don't work on the Tube here (thank God!).

Andrew W. wrote 939 days ago

Yuko Zen is Somewhere Else

Hi Simon,

Had a peak at your pitch and was intrigued. I've read a few chapters and thought I'd offer my thoughts. You do first person very well, there is little excess wordage in the first few chapters and it reads smoothly. She is quite a character and you capture her allure with just enough left for the reader's imagination so that the job of experiencing her sets our interest alight. She is cool. I like the interesting reflective style of the first person narrative, our narrator has a quirky voice that is interesting to listen to, his compartmentalizing of the conversation with Mr Kim for example makes something ordinary read as extraordinary and engaging.

My offers of improvements would be around the necessity of that first chapter, can't we start at the take-away joint, the other stuff seemed to be you warming up. And your pitch seemed a little tired, in comparison with your prose, perhaps the first thing you did on authonomy when you arrived. I think it needs more white space and a few more questions, you have a great idea here, a strong, definitive style and good characters and wacky imagination, your pitch doesn't sell the glorious qualities of your book to me as yet.

I hope at least some of that is useful, I will pop you onto my shelf for the last few days of this month, the very best of luck - Andrew W.

Margaret Trevelyan wrote 941 days ago

Hi Simon

I have just read chapters 4 to 10 and am totally hooked on wanting to know more about YUko. Your writing style is so easy to read that it pulls me along with it. I will be back to comment more when I have read more but I am really glad I took a look and wishedc I had done so sooner.

In ch 10 you were writing about Pixie and you said she had a "heard" time because of her birthmark. I think you meant to put hard time but I have done tons of errors like this in my own work.

I will be back shortly to read more.

CommaSplice wrote 943 days ago


Amanuensis wrote 943 days ago

The telepathic stuff is brilliant. (Got there at last.) Yuko's naive voice grated for a while then, quite oddly, I began to like it. I still think the prose style before the start of Yuko's diary should be more refined. Let it accentuate the contrast between the adult's perspective and that of the gushing young woman. (In my opinion.)

Margaret Trevelyan wrote 943 days ago

I really like thiis. It has drawn me in and I am dying to find out mroe about YUko following her 50 questions.

I thought Mr Kim at the Jade Dragon takeaway was a briliant character and I had to laugh at his comments re his wife's shoes and that the plastic bags weren't as good as cuts needed to be made somewhere because Misses Kim needs new shoes..

I tend to avoid litfic as a lot of it is a bit over my head although I'm by no means thick which is why I it has taken me a while to look at this but I trusted a friend's recommendation and looks like I was right to do so.

I can't wait to read more but for now I will give you some stars and shelf space.

One thing though. In ch 2 you wrote descent man when I think what you meant tos ay was decent man

Best of luck with this one.

Jim Heter wrote 945 days ago

Cool story. I think one of your last two chapters should have mentioned Pixie. Jim

Diane60 wrote 946 days ago

Have jsut finished the entire 53....
This is fab. i can't wait for it to get published! i can think of so many people to buy it for (including me!).
one of the best books i've had the honour of reading on this site. unique, intriguing and gripping.
very very original..can't heap enough praise on it!

linyinf wrote 946 days ago

Welcome to ==== ==
Air Jordan (1-24) shoes $35
Nike shox (R4, NZ, OZ, TL1, TL2, TL3) $35
Handbags ( Coach Lv fendi D&G) $35
T-shirts (polo, ed hardy, lacoste) $16
Jean (True Religion, ed hardy, coogi)$34
Sunglasses ( Oakey, coach, Gucci, Armaini)$15
New era cap $16
Bikini (Ed hardy, polo) $18

Nathan O'Hagan wrote 948 days ago

Just read the first 25 chapters. I wouldn't say i was "gripped" as such, but there was enough that was intriguing and uniqe about this book that made me want to keep reading. I felt the diary elements slowd the plot down somewhat, i would have liked to see it interspersed with Chris' thoughts, though i can understand why you would have chosen not to do this.
I can see why this has ranked so high, there is omething about it that makes it stand out from other books on here. Not even just that its better, its just....different.
I will read more of this, continue to WL and will certainly back when i make room on my shelf.

Amanuensis wrote 949 days ago

Enjoyed the 1st sentence.

Stumbled at the 2nd. ‘Always / almost never / forever ; myself / myself…’ Clunk! and double clunk!

Hence I approached the 3rd sentence with antennae tingling. Don’t quite like the ‘have’. Sounds like a verb is looming… and fails to materialise. 'Any complaint that my empty insides [may have] ... er, something-ed. Easy though to track back, re-register the sense/tense. I think ‘registering’ a complaint would improve on 'having' it. Uber-fussy, but thought you should know.

Is ten some sort of magic number? ‘After ten minutes (4th sentence)… volume up to ten (5th) … ten meter radius (7th)…’

Sorry. Fussy old me.

Ian Walkley wrote 951 days ago

"Fresh" is the word that sprang to mind when I started reading your book. There are some obvious formatting issues you need to fix, but the content is good and the characters compelling. I would like to see a little more added to Winter's personality in the first/second chapter to show the motivation for him taking the book instead of leaving it there. I think the truth that he was attracted to the girl and maybe thought it might be an opportunity to get in contact with her...? Anyway that's only a small issue. I haven't read all you have up here but will do so when I have time. I enjoyed what I read. Good luck.

rhine wrote 951 days ago

good title and pitch. the first two chapters certainly grab the attention.
My only suggestion on the first two chapters would be to follow the convention of Mrs. and Mr.
I would also call it "her journal" or diary in the end of 2 instead of "the book"

Scott Rhine -- Houses of the Holy

belia wrote 952 days ago

Yuko Zen is Somewhere Else Chapters 1-15

One thing for sure: your book cannot pass unnoticed! It is intriguing and written in a style that could be described as original. Both the form of a journal that you have devised and the short chapters, give the reader almost no choice but to go on reading.

I absolutely loved the first five chapters. Very innovative, very skillful in creating an atmosphere and weaving the mystery. I liked Winter's phlegmatic nature and humour and Mr. Kim is also some figure!

But then, from chapter 6 to 10, I must admit that my interest fell a little flat. It started reviving slowly from chapter 11 and as I went on, I found again the interesting, provoking nature that the first chapters teem with. I understand (and admire) that in a girl's simple words you manage to plunge into really deep things and that's to your credit. Concerning the 5 chapters that I mention before, I have made some notes, which, as purely subjective, you can very well ignore if you feel they don't apply to your point of view.

1) The style of writing changes very abdrupty, since Yuko gets into the actual journal. In the prologue of your book as well as in Yuko's prologue in the diary, we are introduced to a clever, humorous, provocative and attractive nature, characteristics which are not present, not even as a hint, in the above mentioned chapters. I understand that this way you want to depict Yuko's change and her course to coming to terms with herself. But as there is not any sign of how much time ago the first entries of her journal were written, it stroke me as a bit absurd.

2) If I make no mistake, Yuko is supposed to be around 20 when she is given the diary. (If I make a mistake though, please ignore this note). But by the way she writes, I wouldn't say so. She is supposed to be a book-worm, so one would expect that at this age and with all that reading, she would be adept at both expressing herself in a more elaborate way and having slightly more advanced thoughts. The way she writes, I wouldn't make her older than 15-16.

3) There is a slight consistency problem concerning Winter reading the diary. We had left him shamfully peeking in Yuko's diary in Mr. Kim's store while he was in the kitchen. Then a large number of chapters go on, and up to chapter 15, we don't hear anything about him. One would suppose that whatever Winter's ability in fast reading, considerable amount of time has elapsed. That Mr. Kim never returned from the kitchen? You seem to have completely forgotten poor Winter, but that is neither fair or appropriate, since he is the person you firtst introduce in the book and since you have not done away with him, you must use him in between, even as a background figure. It would also be interesting to have a view in his feelings and impressions upon what he read.

As I stated before, you definitely have a notable book here, proof to this, I've come up with one of the longest, I think, comments I have written! You'll be on my WL and starred, hoping to get a chance to go on with it later.

All the best.

The Bitch. wrote 953 days ago

I must admit that I found your book to be funny, enlightening, entertaining and well written I almost felt I was part of you digestive system.
You have a good story keep it visible.

Q: The Bitch.
SPW: What does that stand for!
It stands for Simon Paul Wilson.
Q: The Bitch.
It stands for Simon Paul Wilson.
Q: The Bitch.
Where are you from
I'm from England but am now based in China.
Q: The Bitch.
That would explain the visual images in your book.
I just love what I have read so far.
Have you written anything else before you wrote Yuko Zen.
Q: Tyson.
Is Yuko Zen based off of anyone?
Not really. There are bits of myself in there, such as musical taste and being a fan of sharks. But on the whole, Yuko is a fresh creation. I think there are a few readers that hope she is based on someone and that they could meet her!
Q: The Bitch.
The flow of emotions and an assortment of descriptions of various stages of hunger is a very clever way to set the scene.
Would you say you were a visual writer, the story unfolds as you write.
I think that Yuko Zen is a very visual read and am very happy that people have commented on it being quite cinematic at times.
There were some scenes were I had an idea of which direction I wanted to go but ended up at a very different destination!
I always knew where the story would end, but there were some twists along the way that I didn't expect to write.
Q: Sharon.
I have a question:
What was the first time you saw your character? And what bit did you end up writing as a result?
Ok, that was 2 questions...should I leave?
The Bitch.
No please stay, SPW would welcome your questions, I´m sure.
The first time I saw the character of Yuko was while I was trying to write a horror novel. I had one chapter where the main character meets a quirky Japanese girl and thought she was interesting. When I scrapped the horror idea, I went back to this character and did the opening take-away meeting scene in Yuko Zen.
Q: The Bitch.
I had a little chuckle at this part.
When you describe the girl for the very first time you write that she could be a mixture of European and Asian.
So how could that mean she´s Japanese?
Haha! Yes, in Yuko Zen she changed from Japanese to a mixture of European and Asian. I kept her quirky behaviour.
Q: The Bitch.
I like Japanese.
The way you wrote it could mean that Japanese is a mixture of European and Asian.
Q: The Bitch.
The other one is Mr Kim says Morning Winter and Winter says ; Good evening Mr Kim.
You will have to decide what time of day it is, if he has just left work and was not doing the night shift then?
Q: The Bitch.
Well spotted! Actually, that opening 'good morning/ good evening' conversation is based on the owner of my local take-away. He always said 'morning', no matter what the time of day!
Ariom is a star. I can't thank her enough. I am now editing again and Ariom's previous help has made this time round a lot easier.
Q: The Bitch.
It´s great when others take the time to make a difference.
What does it mean to get to the ED desk.
To get to the desk is great but also very scary.
The thing that means the most to me is to have so many full reads, that means so much to me.
I have been constantly amazed by how many people like Yuko Zen and the support I have had on this site. A simple 'Thank you' just doesn't cut it!
Q: The Bitch.
I´m sure a" thank you" goes a long way.
This is a question for SPW and Tyson.
What do you expect after THE DESK
I expect to carry on editing and then see if there is anyone out there who would be interested in Yuko.
That and carry on writing my second book.
Q:The Bitch.
There always have to keep shouting!
Yep. I think you may be right!

iandsmith wrote 955 days ago

Hello, I’ve been reading and enjoying the opening of Yuko Zen for some time now, but I couldn’t, till now, put my finger on why I haven’t shelved it. It’s an accomplished piece, skillfully done and highly regarded (by me). It’s bound for the top, so I thought I’d get a rare criticism in first, before ED gets a chance, and then you can’t say we all failed you as a community (as if you would) if it bounces back (which I hope it doesn’t). For all we know, authonomy might have till Christmas to make some money for HC, and then they might pull the plug on our free fun, and slap on a fee, like other NI online enterprises.

It’s about Mister Kim: friendly, chatty, apparently works in his own business, and prepared to roll over and die for a sale to a regular customer. Really? I’ve heard of the laudable Asian work ethic, but this is just unreal. He even chucks in a two-for-one, killing off any sense that anything is going to happen in the rest of the novel (which it does). Maybe it’s the dream take-away, the one that’s always open, the staff are authentic, and they do a two-for-one, but not in my part of London.

So I started to read it from Kim’s point of view, trying his damndest, and imaging how Winter looks to him. Sadly, Winter started to sound like a toff: “Perhaps one day soon I will surprise you and order a meal for two.” The splitting of “I will” instead of “I’ll” makes me think he’s going to add “my man” at the end and toss him a sixpence. To me Mister Kim is as patronizing and unrealistic a character as if you’d written his opening dialogue as, “Harro Winter!”

Anyway, I said it. Do what you will. My comedy novel, THE MARQUIS OF QUEENSBURY RULES, OKAY has been here a week, and is full of likeable characters who have (I hope) a bit of edge that makes you think something’s going to kick off shortly, which it always does. Good luck upstairs, and maybe this will be The One.

AudreyB wrote 958 days ago

Hey - I thought I'd take a look at a top 5 book to see if it was really any good.....and it's great. My English teacher alter ego, the Grammar Hag, has nothing to do on this read. Well done. I wish you well.


bigmouth wrote 959 days ago

Here are some thoughts based on the first 20 chapters.


The dialogue is, in the main, pretty strong. This is often the weak point in a manuscript but most of the conversations in the book are realistic. People do speak this way and you capture that well.

The parts where you write in a style outside of normal narrative - the script-style conversation in the takeaway, Yuko's list of questions - work very well indeed. They break up the story and add something satisfyingly different.

You have also populated the book with an interesting cast of characters.

And you have an intriguing story, the reader wants to know where it goes next.


The main narrative is over-written. There is too much telling and not enough showing going on.

For example, the whole preamble at the beginning of the book. You want to tell us that the narrator is bloody hungry at the end of a busy Monday so pops into his local takeaway. That is all we need to know. The really interesting stuff happens once he is in there. So why delay? What you may have intended as an amusing introduction is actually 9 or 10 paragraphs explaining why some bloke is hungry. Do we really need that much? That sounds a bit harsh, it is not meant to. It is a common problem in many manuscripts I read. Whip out the red pen and slash any padding. The book would be better for it.

The diary is a problem. It can be a great device if used well but it needs work here.

First of all, we have the voice. Yuko in her diary does not sound like a young woman writing a diary or journal. She sounds like a novelist writing about a young woman writing in a diary. The tone and style - so well captured in her conversation in the takeaway and in her questionnaire - is lost and it just becomes another part of the narrative. This needs to be utterly realistic to work. Would she really describe whole scenes in this way, capture whole chunks of conversations in direct speech?

Also, similar turns of phrase and a similar style pervades the main narrative and the diary. The narrator goes sans-food in the opening chapter, Yuko is sans-hat only a few chapters later. Not an uncommon phrase to use but for two different characters to use it is such a short space of time reminds the reader that they are reading a construct, that both characters are from the same mind. It jars a bit.


Work on making sure the diary and the main narrative are two distinct and different styles. Yuko needs her own voice and that isn't coming out strongly enough in the diary.

The writer David Mitchell helps to bring his characters to life by having them write to him. He gets them to send him postcards, write letters or emails. It forces him to give them different voices, making them more real. Something like that might work.

You need to streamline the main narrative. No waffle.

I would recommend reading Who is Mr Satoshi by Jonathan Lee, particular for the part where the main character meets an unusual young woman, again in a restaurant. See how he does it, see what you can learn from it.


I enjoyed this, it has promise. There is a neat, quirky story there but it is hidden beneath too much narrative padding and the central device of the diary is not convincing.

I'd be keen to take a look at a re-worked version some time.

HarryLang wrote 960 days ago

Yuko Zen is a slick yet unorthodox tale written in a brilliantly imaginative style

Wezzle wrote 960 days ago

This was recommended to me by a good friend, no longer on here :(

I love it and will continue to read. I wish you everything with this, Simon ... and I would love to own it :)


Nightdream wrote 961 days ago

Chapter 3

From the beginning you go straight into the journal. You might want to put something down before it. Maybe you should say Chris sits down and flips open to the first page. The journal was worn and torn at the edges . . .etc . . . Just put something down because when I first started reading I forgot exactly what happened (since it's been a day since I read chapter 2). It was easy to figure out when I went back to the last sentence of chapter 2 but I think you always need a little note to the readers just in case they stopped reading after chapter 2 like I did. Or what if they stopped reading for more than two days? 10? I think they would find it confusing just for a second and you don't want that millisecond of confusion. You don't have to change it just take a look at it to see if you agree.

"Name: Yuko Zen" I don't think you need this. You already stated it a few lines up. Comes off as repetitive.

"DOB . . ." and "Age . . ." These are kind of the same thing. Think of a way of uniting these two.

Just an idea but you can also just have Yuko write a short one or two paragraph biography of herself instead you listing she did. Name. Sex. DOB . . .

I don't think you need a title for her 50 random questions "Yuko Zen and her . . .". Again, it's a repetitive thing that stood out for me.

Put 'Tibet, China' instead of just 'Tibet' because some people might not know where Tibet is. Many of your readers will be American and many don't know foreign countries that well. The hard thing about this is that I don't think Zuko would say it because it's not foreign to her. So you decide.

Zuko's favorite color: black to wear and green to see. nice answer

"denim jacket" repetitive. I know she likes denim skirts but I would use a different name for denim if you can

I will keep reading because I'm still very interested in this story. You have a talent to pull in your readers. Don't worry about the advice. It's just to make it a tiny better not a lot. Can't wait to read more.

Michaela Foster Marsh wrote 961 days ago

I have to be honest and say I haven't read all of this but so want to after reading the first 4 chapters. I have backed the book as I believe it is a rare gem!! I wish you all the best with the editors desk and getting published. I have no doubt you'll make it!! I will read on when I can - wish there were more hours in the day. But congrats on a great read! Michaela

Iris_W wrote 962 days ago

Good luck with reaching the desk!

Twist2010 wrote 962 days ago

This is really interesting. I truely hope this stays on the desk, as I would love to read a major review of this and hopefully someday soon have it in person. Definitely on my shelf.


Nightdream wrote 963 days ago

It's funny that it's okay for guys to stare at a pretty girl. :) The best is when a good looking girl walks by a group of men and all the guys turn their head at the same time to watch the back side of her. It always makes me laugh.

I love your description. I think I told that to you already, but it's really good. And it's simple which I love. I laughed when they were looking at her legs and she said it was okay for them to look at them. What a funny seductive woman you stringed together. You have the talent to make your readers laugh.

Once I read "My name is Yuko Zen' I was like this writer knows when to put in a good moment. I don't know if you did it on purpose or not but that was a pivot in the story; a huge turn down the rollercoaster that will make you continue to read without stopping. I had a feeling you would bring her book into chapter 2. You had to because then the readers would be angry. I would be angry with you.

Funny, that the reason why he took it, or the excuse, is that maybe if he opened it there would be contact info. Really? lol. Perfect ending to chapter 2. Can't wait to continue on.

I'm glad you don't have terribly long chapters.

barina wrote 963 days ago

This is really very good. Some of the best writing and story telling I have read so far on Authonomy. I will read more tonight.

Mylan wrote 963 days ago


This is a very interesting book in many ways. I have read a lot of what is posted here, though not all. I think it is a book that's time has come for ED. Unlike some here you don't seem to have had an all out 2 or 3 month assault on the charts. You have collected around 250 comments and made many yourself on many books.

I would only suggest the following for your consideration, and only because the beginning of a work can be so important. But it is only for your consideration.

The first line, perhaps remove the words 'all' and 'sudden'. 'all' is too much and too little of a word if you see what I mean. It takes away from the strength of the sentence. 'sudden' - if you remove this then it allows the reader to sense as they read that these things have been inside the MC for a long time, unknown to him consciously.

Then I might suggest in the second paragraph remove 'multitude' and replace it with 'all', which in this place would not be used to make such a sweeping idea but then allows the sentence to read more smoothly, but only if you remove it from the first sentence, otherwise it would look lazy to use it twice; once in each of the first two paragraphs.

I wish you every good fortune this month and hope very much you stay on the Desk until the very last day. Yuko Zen will remain on my shelf until you have ED.


Nightdream wrote 965 days ago

Great beginning. You are a talented writer, very talented. You deserve to be on the Editor's Desk. I wish the letter was in this chapter, but we can't have everything we want, right? But it's your writing that has pulled me in and wanting to read more than the first chapter. That is a good feet.

Katy Johnson wrote 965 days ago

- LF40 Review -

I’ll start with this – although far, FAR, outside my normal genre, I really like this book and have decided to back it.

And, I have to ask, have you ever read House of Leaves? It’s so similar at times, it was weird. I mean, your book is still very different from that novel, but sometimes I had to wonder (House of leaves is my favorite book, incidentally).

Chapter one – This is not a great start. Although the description is excellent, there is no hook to go on to Chapter two. Since your chapters often vary in length from short to long (which is fun and interesting), I suggest combining chapters one and two. Chapter two gives us some intrigue regarding Yuko and provides, in my opinion, a satisfactory hook. Most people will at least finish the first chapter no matter what, so I think combining them would get you more committed reads. Just a thought.

Also, don’t name your chapters. For example “Second Thoughts” is too obvious and this chapter could stand alone without you telling us the theme.

Although it is a difficult task, you did an excellent job separating the voices. The narrorators are constructed well and their writing is easily distinguished. My only critique is that, at least at the beginning, Yuko’s voice sounds too immature for a twenty-year-old. She “grows up” near the middle, and I wonder if that’s due to the tragedy that befalls her forcing her to mature? If so, well-played.

I love the simplicity and intrigue of the idea for this book. It is so universal and yet, such a rare concept for a novel. Being unique is hard nowadays, and you’ve certainly done it well. Additionally, the idea of a journal allows you to skip from interesting story to interesting story without the in-between and every-day aspects of Yuko’s life that are not vital to the plot. It’s a great idea.

Additionally, I love that she adds a location to each entry, and it holds such significance to the supernatural effect of the book. That was a genius decision on your part.

In the first eight chapters or so, you give us a lot of Yuko background without any real conflict for us to feel connected to. Maybe if you added a chapter with Winter again to keep us on track and interested. Or you could add another Yuko conflict? I don’t really know where to go with that one, but I know that in those first handfuls of chapters, I occasionally felt bored.

The dreams are PERFECT. I don’t say that lightly. “She won’t go till you do.” AWESOME! We get the message of each dream but they are still so beautifully cryptic. I don’t think I’ve ever read dream sequences so well put together.

Nit pick: In chapter 32, take out “a totally different side to what I had seen.” We know. Also, Yuko says “I hope I’m wrong…but something tells me I’m wrong.” It should read “…something tells me I’m not wrong.” And in chapters 33 and 44, you use “there” instead of “their.” And in chapter 45 and 49, stop saying babe. I wanted to kill Pixie…again.

Her “super power” is another brilliantly constructed universal desire. You’ve managed to give these ideas life and uniqueness. I am so impressed.

Also, chapter 37 is extremely well-done. It’s not cliché but it’s also not graphic or unnecessarily detailed. It’s the perfect combination.

You’re writing style is flawless and brilliantly constructed. Your words fly off the page as truly authentic, and it reads effortlessly. I am jealous of your abilities.

Near the end, the book sort of becomes a mesh between The Butterfly Effect and The Time Traveler’s Wife. But I like both of those movies, so it was a good thing ;) This novel is so deep and has such a wide grasp, it really feels like it is already published – or a movie. It would be excellent either way. I still can’t decide how I feel about the ending, though. I’ll get back to you on that ;)

Finally, I have to say that the cover turned me off for quite awhile. I may have read it sooner if it was more generic. The book is unique enough on its own, I think the cover may scare some more main-stream, non-fantasy readers (like myself) away. Also, there are a few typos throughout the book that I neglected to mention so that this comment didn’t become a novel in itself, but they are minimal and could easily be polished.

I truly hope HC loves this book. Good luck to you!

a.morrison712 wrote 966 days ago

Your opening line drew me in. I've glanced through Chapter 1 and so far your book appears polished and creative. I'm putting you on my watch list until I have time to read your book in more detail. In the mean time, I am looking for feedback on my book "Maddy Hatfield and the Magic Locket." Any critiques and/or comments are greatly appreciated! Best of luck to you with your book!


Little Miss E wrote 969 days ago

This is a delight to read. Not my ideal genre, but still it was easy to slip into this. You have some very engaging and enjoyable characters. No wonder this is ranked so high! I've read a couple of books on here, not many as I am new, but this is one of the better written ones. I thought the idea of the journal much be a bit cliched, but i think you handled it well. I think this is crafted well. And though I have only read the first couple of chapters, I'm certain the rest of the book is the same.


melody chen wrote 971 days ago

Wish you success

melody chen wrote 971 days ago

Wish you success

E. Yazykova wrote 972 days ago

Fantastic name, premise and after reading up to fourth chapter I feel really good about backing your work! can't really give any constructive criticism as this is very far from the genre of my "expertise," but I read and enjoyed it. You seem to have captured a lot of attention with this piece of work, and I must say the simplicity of your writing was a real breath of fresh air.

Elena ("Oko")

Stan_Stranger wrote 973 days ago

I loved chapter 3! Backed!

eluveitie6 wrote 974 days ago

nice cover and first chapter!