Daruma (Personal Writing) Update: This weekend I am participating in a five day long retreat for writing my current work in progress. I can’t say I will get much done because of work and family, but tomorrow looks to be a lot more productive.
Japanese mythology and Yokai have been an interest of mine for many years. I’ve done a lot of research finding out about the myriad creatures that inhabit Japanese folklore. I’ve also written several magazine articles, short stories, and an unpublished novel utilizing Yokai and Japanese mythology.
So now is the time for the next step: another novel with one of my favourite creatures from Japanese mythology: Yurei (Japanese ghosts). Yokai and other creatures have come across at times as cute and cuddly creatures. Not so Yurei. Yurei have never been portrayed as cute. Look at the Ring or the Grudge (Ringu and Ju-On). ‘Kawaii’ is not the term I would use for these vengeful spirits.
But I didn’t want to rehash Ringu or Ju-On. I want to create my own thing. So I decided on a couple things to make the novel stand out amongst the crowd of English language novels set in Japan.
First, it’s not set in Japan. It’s set in Oyashima, an entirely fictional setting. Oyashima is an ancient name for Japan that has no ties to it’s current name. I am trying to figure out the name of the city I plan on using.
Second, one of the main characters will be a Real Estate Agent who sells stigmatized properties (properties in which people have died in them by murder, suicide, or natural causes) and exorcises ghosts as a side gig. He is haunted by everything he has seen.
Finally, it’s set in the future: a future where climate change has ravaged the country forcing the government to build giant sea walls to keep the water out.
If that sounds interesting to you, keep following my website for more. I am already 20,000 words into the novel, but had to go back and re-jig the outline just a bit as the Real Estate Agent character wasn’t jelling and I think I figured out what to do with him. So that 20,000 words probably won’t increase much over the next month as I straighten out the outline and scene list. As soon as that is done, though, it’ll be full steam ahead.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) just announced it’s Phase IV lineup. I wouldn’t normally talk about it, but I’m really excited for one of their projects (okay, I like most of the movie ones – but this one, I’m really excited for): Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
I’ll admit that I was never all that excited about martial arts movies or comics as a kid and I pretty well stayed away from them. I didn’t get the appeal of Bruce Lee, didn’t start watching Jackie Chan until I was well into my 20s, and the likes of Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu just didn’t interest me.
So why now? Well, first, it’s the MCU. They’ve earned my money and respect. They’ve put my childhood on the big screen and I like almost everything they put up on it. So I have a lot of confidence that this movie will be done right. And the casting is off to a great start. Simu Liu will star as Shang Chi and the movie co-stars Awkwafina and Tony freakin’ Leung as the Mandarin. The REAL Mandarin. Not that fake one from Iron Man 3.
And second, it’s another movie with Asian actors on screen in leading roles. And that’s my jam. Stories set in Asia with Asian characters. Of course I’m excited. I write this stuff.
Can’t wait. I’ll keep you posted. February 12, 2021 can’t get here soon enough.
The writing never ends. This past few weeks, I’ve been mentoring several writers online. It’s something I never thought I would do, but joining a few Facebook groups dedicated to writing and helping other writers has opened up the opportunity.
I am starting my outline for a novel. It is still in the planning stages and I’ll have more for you when I get something more solid. Right now, all I can say is that it involves Yokai. And steampunk.
Speaking of Yokai, I got yet another idea for a story. I don’t know if it is a short story or a longer piece, but I cannot see it becoming a novel. It has been on my mind lately, so I thought I’d share it with you. My main character exorcises apartments and other places haunted by Yūrei, Japanese ghosts. Doesn’t sound too original, does it? The twist is that he is a real estate agent who specializes in cleaning and then flipping “stigmatized” properties – properties that have have dead bodies found in them. How the people died is irrelevant. It could be murder, suicide, or natural causes. Whatever the cause, he cleans them out. Sound gruesome? Yeah, I thought so too. Yet I can’t get it out of my head. I’ll let you know when I finish it.
Schedule for When Words Collide
When Words Collide is only a few weeks away and oh, man do I have a busy schedule. If you wish to find me, here is a list of panels I’ll be on during the festival:
The Stories We Hide (Friday 5 PM – Fireside ) Join the editors and authors of this year’s Enigma Front anthology. I am one of the authors in this year’s anthology. My story is entitled “I Travelled the World Between.”
How to Write for Roleplay Game Companies (Friday 9 PM – Canmore ) Which are the A-list RPG companies you want to write for? What makes one better than the others? What are they looking for? How familiar do you need to be with their worlds and rules? Must you stick to their Bible, or can you bring in your own creative ideas?
Living in a Multi-Cultural World (Saturday 11 AM – Bonavista ) We live in a world made up of peoples of diverse races, ethnicities, and cultures. Yet, as readers and writers, we often forget that we live in such a world. Panellists will discuss their experiences living as an ethnic minority in North America. Panellists may also have suggestions on further reading, favourite authors, and tips on writing characters who are persons of colour. Come with your questions and an open mind.
East and West: How Our Mindset Changes the Way We Tell Stories (Sunday 10 AM – Parkland ) If you’ve read manga, watched K-drama, or enjoyed a Kurosawa film, you may have noticed eastern storytelling often differs from western. Why aren’t the protagonists protag-ing? Why aren’t characters standing up for themselves? Why are there more than three acts? Join us to explore Asian storytelling, an ancient structure with millions of fans, as we discuss style differences, cultural shaping of art, and how you can use these tools to make your own work stronger.
#ownvoices: How Diversity is Taking the Writing World by Storm (Sunday 2 PM – Canmore ) #ownvoices is a movement that encourages diverse writers to include the lived experiences of their community in their stories. Why has this trend taken off, and why is it good for the literary world?