Welcome Message

Welcome to my blog. Here, you will find information about my novels, life in Japan, as well as author interviews, discussions on writing, and more. Feel free to browse and if you enjoy a post, please comment. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Excalibur Books Asked, I Answered

In anticipation of my newest novel hitting the shelves, Excalibur Books asked me some questions about it. Without further ado, here's what I had to say.

Could you tell us a little about yourself and your background? Sure. I'm a SF fan living in Japan. I taught English in the Japanese public school system at the junior high school level for five years. I'm no longer a teacher but I still live in Japan. When I'm not working or writing, you can usually catch me watching movies.

What genre are your books? Zero Sum Game is a science fiction novel; and my first book Adventure Hunters: Similitude is fantasy. That's all I have released so far.

What draws you to these genres? Despite growing up in the nature and beauty of Wyoming, I love science fiction. I love the escapism, SF's uses to explore social issues, its glimpses into the possible what-ifs futures, and of course the cool tech.

What was the main inspiration for Zero Sum Game? I wanted to write a SF/superheroine novel where the protagonist's powers are derived from her school uniform. In Japan, the school uniform is a big part of a student's life. Some students even choose their future high school or university based on the look of the uniform. I worked backwards from that: why does her uniform giver her super powers, where did it come from, how did she get it, and all sorts of other questions. Using that as a basis, I came up with ZSG.

Kanae Yagi at the 2016 Rio Olympics
Give us an insight into Hina Takamachi. What does she do that is so special? Hina was a difficult character to write, much more so than her friends and teachers and other minor characters in the novel. I wanted her to be a good girl but certainly not a Mary Sue. One thing I wanted her to be was athletic. I originally made her a volleyball player but I changed it to her being an Olympic weightlifter. I wanted to show that girls could be strong and still like fashion and be somewhat girly and have friends that support her activities. Olympic athlete Kanae Yagi was a big inspiration for Hina.

What aspects of Japanese culture do you include in your fiction? Deciding to make Hina a junior high student was a difficult choice. I didn't want ZSG to be a young adult novel but I wasn't sure if such a young main character could sell a book. If I had made her high school or college-aged, it might have been easier. But I had only taught junior high students. I specifically wanted to include lesser-known aspects of school life and culture that most people might not know. The hardest part was trying to figure out what I could explain in the book, and what would slow it down too much and best be left as notes and annotations on my website.

What's it like being a non-Japanese author living and writing in Japan? It's interesting to say the least! By being a bit of an outsider I think I'm able to observe things a bit differently than natives. I hope I can further add touches of culture and traditions to my works set in Japan. What's been the most difficult is that most of my Japanese friends don't read English, so they can't read my books! I hope to have them translated into Japanese one day.

Starring...Miki Nonaka?
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? That is a tough one and something I have thought about. I based Hina's look on Kanae Yagi and a model named Mana Yuzuki. But both are too old now to play Hina in a movie. I'm not sure who the most current actresses are in Hina's age range but I think Morning Musume '16's Miki Nonaka would be a good fit.

What else have you written? The aforementioned Adventure Hunters: Similitude; as well as a variety of articles for the Star Trek international fan group the 1701st, In Genre, and the magazine Preview, which is distributed on a military base here in Japan.

Where can we buy or see them? Both novels are available on Amazon in ebook and paperback formats. Zero Sum Game can be found here and Adventure Hunters: Similitude is here.

Which writers inspire you? Christopher L. Bennett and Stephen Baxter for incorporating hard science into their books. Bennett's original novel Only Superhuman is a recommended book that mixes superheroes and hard science. Manifold: Time by Baxter has always stuck with me. Neil Gaiman uses words in a magical way. I love his style and prose. The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I love Jeffery Deaver for his thriller twist and turns that take you by surprise, even though the clues were there all along. I recommend his novel The Cold Moon. And of course the King, as in Stephen. When I'm unsure how to write something, I look at how he does it. On Writing is my writing bible.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? Like almost all authors it seems I never have enough time to write! When I am writing a first draft, I try to get 500 words a day done. If I know I can't or I'm in the editing and rewriting phase, I try to work for half an hour every day. I find my best writing time usually starts around 10am, but I can only write at night because of my job. On my days off work I try to write in the morning.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I am definitely a plotter. I tried writing a story with no outline and just got lost after the first act. I'm very particular about my outlines because I am a stickler for structure. I guess that comes from writing screenplays before I started writing novels. For short stories, while I may have a specific scene or goal in mind, I usually don't outline them.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books? Ebooks. Lately I have read and bought more paperbacks but I like the portability of ebooks. I can fit a thousand books in my pocket.

What book/s are you reading at present? Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Seas by Jules Verne, who was also born on my birthday.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit? Yes. After the first draft is done, I usually wait six weeks before returning to it. I have the day marked on my calendar. I try to start a new project and forget about the draft but it usually sits in the back of my mind.

Who edited your book and how did you select him/her? Nikki Bennett, a fabulous YA author and friend, edited my book for me. We met at a writer's meeting and she had already self-published several books.

Who designed your book cover/s? Steph's Cover Design. She also did great work on Excalibur's Voice trilogy and The Mists of Osorezan.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? Without a doubt, marketing. That is the biggest disadvantage for self-publishing and the biggest advantage for traditional. Marketing is a social and selling trade and most authors just aren't like that. Another advantage of traditional publishing is having a cover artist/designer. There are, sadly, some tremendously horrible self-made covers out there. The biggest advantage for self-publishing is creative control. You can write as niche as you want and not worry about editors telling you "It won't sell." As a reader, that adds a whole lot a variety to your reading.

How do you relax? Watching movies, usually at home on my days off. I average about two a week. And I love going to the Japanese movie theater a lot more than an American theater. It's a lot more subdued and easygoing.

How can readers discover more about you and you work? Follow me on my social media accounts. Don't be shy about leaving reviews, likes, or comments. I want to hear from my readers and interact with them.

Social Media Links
Resonant Blue (blog)
Facebook Page
Amazon Author Page

I'd like to thank Excalibur Books for the interview and I hope you enjoyed it. As always, thank you for reading.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Zero Sum Game Now Available

I can finally say: my newest book is available!

Zero Sum Game is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be published on September 16 and will come in both ebook and paperback formats.
Here is the official description "The resurrection of one world will mean the destruction of another.

The homeworld of the alien Noigel has been annihilated. Their existence as a species is on a razor's edge. But they have found a replacement: Earth. But it must be changed to suit their needs. If they succeed, all of humanity will perish.

When an alien secret agent is killed, his technology and mission are given to Hina Takamachi. The Japanese schoolgirl discovers the alien's battle suit gives her incredible powers, just like the anime heroines she admired as a kid. The battle suit's artificial intelligence, whom Hina names Voice, informs her that only she can save the world from the Noigel.

With Voice training and guiding her, Hina must overcome her own self-doubts and find the courage to stop the Noigel's plan.

For one world to win, the other must lose."

I've very excited about this release, as it is my first associated with Excalibur Books. I'll be joining other talented writers like John Paul Catton and Zoe Drake.

I hope you enjoy Zero Sum Game!