Despite the level of censorship enforced in the Shima Imperium, Yukiko—from what I’ve garnered—still manages to be outspoken, to rebel against the system that seeks to smother her voice. Growing up in that kind of world didn’t carve her into a meek young woman, but impacted her personality in a contrary manner. In your case, how did growing up where you did affect the person you’ve become today? Is there a certain mold you’ve managed to escape?
Jay: I’m probably kinda similar to Yukiko in that respect. I went to a very strict school, and my dad wasn’t around much – so I had this combination of overbearing authority coupled with an absentee parent. I left home young, and I had to figure out a lot on my own, which in hindsight is probably a good way to be. But I developed a very healthy distrust of institutionalized authority, whatever guise it happens to be wearing. In my experience, most institutions aren’t really concerned with making this planet the most awesome place it can be for everyone aboard it.
In short, I don’t like being told what to do or think or say. But really, who does? Wow, that was quite a heavy question. Maybe I should do a little dance to lighten things up a bit.
*dances like there’s ants in his pants*
That Lotus Guild sure sounds terrifying, as if they make hell for those who live in the empire they control. Growing up, what’s one book or movie whose environment was so ghastly, haunting, and/or horrifying you were actually—even a little bit—frightened for yourself or your reality?
Jay: Probably Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. It’s about this ancient vampire who moves to this little American town, and just takes over. It begins slowly at first – a few disappearances, people calling in sick to work. But gradually, more and more of the townsfolk are turned, and soon they outnumber the humans.
There’s this tipping point in the book, when it’s become obvious to our heroes what’s happening, but the police aren’t able to swallow such a far-fetched story. They need to make a decision to fight or run, fully aware they’re the only ones who know the truth. They’re so isolated, and so unlikely to succeed. Are they insane? Can this really be happening? There’s a kid in the book called Mark Petri – he was one of my heroes growing up. I always wondered what I would do in his shoes.
One of my favourite books ever.
Now, I’m basing this off of what I’ve seen of the cover—in which the woman on the front is wielding what looks like a samurai sword. I can’t even imagine what kind of fighting techniques wielding that thing entails. Instead of using words to describe the main character, I want to talk about fighting, aggression. If Yukiko were to fight an opponent right now, and that was her only representation as a person, what fighting style or fighting tactic would not successfully embody who she is?
Jay: It’s actually illegal for anyone other than a samurai to wield a blade longer than a knife in Yukiko’s world (yes, she’s breaking the law on the cover – CALL THE POLICE). But she’s been trained to fight since an… unfortunate incident in her childhood. She doesn’t back down, even sometimes when it’s smart too. She’s kinda stubborn.
But it really depends on when in the book you’re talking about – once she befriends Buruu, who’s essentially a two-ton wrecking machine of feathers and fur and talons, her fighting style changes a little bit. But talking about that is spoilerific, so I’ll zip my lips :)
Let’s talk griffins. Or, more specifically, mythological creatures. If you could choose the fictional animal companion you’d be stuck with that best complements you in a story, what would it be? How would that differ from what you’d probably really end up happening upon whilst stranded in some thick secluded area—much like Yukiko stumbles across Buruu?
Jay: I’d choose a griffin, for sure. Buruu seems to be everyone’s favorite character in the book – he’s loyal and fierce and terribly sarcastic. I think we’d get along very well. Dragons are played out – everyone does bloody dragons. And that always confuses me, because traditionally, dragons are kinda jerks.
As to what I’d actually find if I stumbled out into the wilderness – well, I live in Australia, so it’d probably be something small and furry. A koala bear, maybe? That’d make for a fearsome legend, wouldn’t it?
Follow the immortal journey of one man as he battles injustice in a post-industrial wasteland with his faithful koala bear…
I’d name him “the Business”. I’d yell “IT’S BUSINESS TIME!” as my signal for him to drop from the trees and start eating people’s faces.
Yeah, that’d rock…
Seems to me that STORMDANCER has just about everything you could want in a book—steampunk, sci-fi, fantasy, dystopian, asian influences. The only missing thing popping into my head right now are… zombies, I’d have to go with zombies. If you got to experience a zombie apocalypse alongside your characters from STORMDANCER, who would be the most useful and most useless to have during the catastrophe?
Jay: Well, Buruu the griffin would be the most useful, since we could just jump on his back and fly the hell away from the zombies. Unless you’re throwing flying zombies at us, which I’m pretty sure is just flat out against the rules.
The most useless would be the Shōgun, Yoritomo. Basically because he’s used to telling people what to do, and given the immediate collapse of chain of command in any given zombie apocalypse, the dude would probably just wander around yelling at people to obey him until he got eaten. But considering what he does in the book, I think most readers would be totally fine with that.
He’s a bit of a jerk, too.
A DYING LAND
The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.
AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.
A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.
But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.
Make sure to stop by later today for my review of STORMDANCER!
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Thanks for stopping by my blog, Jay—despite the fact that I made you wait even longer for my questions than should be legal when requesting an author’s presence! I appreciate it. For serious. Comment down below if you're for the Shōgun's face getting eaten or if griffins are more your style than dragons.