The time it was about Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers

Posted March 13, 2023 by Stacee in Interviews | 2 Comments

When I got the invitation to interview Jesse Q. Sutanto for her upcoming book Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murders, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. I was borderline obsessed with Dial A for Aunties and the new book sounded like everything I could ever want.

Before we get to Jesse’s answers, let’s check out the book.

Title: Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murders
Author: Jesse Q. Sutanto
Pages: 352
Publisher: Berkley Books
Pub Date: March 14, 2023
Find it: PRH | Indiebound | Bookshop | Goodreads

Synopsis: A lonely shopkeeper takes it upon herself to solve a murder in the most peculiar way in this captivating mystery by Jesse Q. Sutanto, bestselling author of Dial A for Aunties.

Vera Wong is a lonely little old lady–ah, lady of a certain age–who lives above her forgotten tea shop in the middle of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Despite living alone, Vera is not needy, oh no. She likes nothing more than sipping on a good cup of Wulong and doing some healthy detective work on the Internet about what her Gen-Z son is up to.

Then one morning, Vera trudges downstairs to find a curious thing–a dead man in the middle of her tea shop. In his outstretched hand, a flash drive. Vera doesn’t know what comes over her, but after calling the cops like any good citizen would, she sort of . . . swipes the flash drive from the body and tucks it safely into the pocket of her apron. Why? Because Vera is sure she would do a better job than the police possibly could, because nobody sniffs out a wrongdoing quite like a suspicious Chinese mother with time on her hands. Vera knows the killer will be back for the flash drive; all she has to do is watch the increasing number of customers at her shop and figure out which one among them is the killer.

What Vera does not expect is to form friendships with her customers and start to care for each and every one of them. As a protective mother hen, will she end up having to give one of her newfound chicks to the police?

Sounds, good, right?

1. Please give the elevator pitch for Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers.

A lonely old lady discovers a dead body in her tea house and decides to solve the mystery of the murder herself.

2. Which came first: the characters or the plot?

I usually come up with the premise first, but with this book, the one that came first was definitely the character. I knew after writing Dial A for Aunties that Chinese aunties are just too good and too full of potential to not write about, so I had Vera scuttling around my head for a while before the plot eventually arrived.

3. Why do you love Vera and why should readers root for her?

Everyone who’s read Vera Wong has said she reminds them of their grandmother, and that’s exactly who Vera is! She’s the world’s grandma — loving, caring, and unbelievably meddlesome. And she has a murder to solve. What’s not to love?

4. Were there any weird things you googled while drafting?

I’ve googled some really questionable things over the past years. I’m sure I must be on the FBI watch list or something. But by the time I wrote Vera Wong, I was a seasoned murderer. Er, writer. So I don’t think I googled anything particularly terrible for Vera.

5. Without spoilers, which scene was your favorite to write?

The very first chapter. I outline my books meticulously now, but even so, I never know the tone that a book is going to take until I start actually writing it. When I started writing Vera, her voice just leaped off the page and she came out fully formed and I knew then that I was going to create something so fun and so wonderful.

Speed {ish} round:

1. You find out that you’re being published for the first time. Describe the next 5 minutes.

What actually happened was I burst into tears and shrieked into the phone at my poor agent, then I called my husband and sobbed to him uncontrollably and he thought something bad had happened to the kids.

2. What three things would you take to a desert island?

A cleaver. A water bottle. A tent. But let’s face it, I would totally still die in this scenario.

3. You can only read one book for the rest of your life. What is it?

WOW. These questions are TOUGH! Um…some really long-winded book, probably. Oh, I know, Lord of the Rings!

4. What is the one thing about publishing you wish someone would have told you?

That being published doesn’t magically fix every problem in your life. I know, I was shocked to discover this too.

5. You wake up and discover you are Bella in Twilight. You know how it plays out. What do you do differently?

Okay so I know the basic summary of Twilight, but I haven’t actually read it or watched the movies. Can we do Katniss instead? What I would do differently is nothing because clearly Katniss is hot shit and I couldn’t have done anything better than she did.


Jesse Q. Sutanto is the award-winning, bestselling author of Dial A for Aunties, Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers, Well, That Was Unexpected, The Obsession, and Theo Tan and the Fox Spirit. The film rights to her women’s fiction, Dial A for Aunties, was bought by Netflix in a competitive bidding war. She has a master’s degree in creative writing from Oxford University, though she hasn’t found a way of saying that without sounding obnoxious. Jesse lives in Indonesia with her husband, her two daughters, and her ridiculously large extended family, many of whom live just down the road and provide her with endless inspiration for her books. website | instagram


Huge thanks to Berkley for the opportunity and to Jesse for taking the time.  Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers releases tomorrow and pre-order links are above!

Have you read Jesse’s books? Will you be reading Vera Wong?

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2 responses to “The time it was about Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers

    • Stacee

      I haven’t read her YA, but can’t recommend Dial
      a for Aunties enough. It was one of my top ten favorites the year it released. I hope you love Vera Wong! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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