Every month Sky at Further Up and Further In hosts a questionnaire called ‘Beautiful People,’ but this month’s is a bit different, designed for NaNo preparation (although it doesn’t necessarily have to be, if you aren’t doing NaNo this year). Instead of questions about characters, it’s questions about your novel.
- How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
I’ve had the idea floating around for a few months, ever since I watched Goemon with my friend Arielle. The movie had many flaws – horrible CGI (and way too much of it), a nonsensical character death that still really gets under my skin, and a completely tragic ending. However, I came away with a certain idea – Robin Hood, but a FUTURISTIC SAMURAI ROBIN HOOD. Because life is too short, or something like that.
- Why are you excited to write this novel?
I’m always excited to write the novel ideas I come up with, but I’m particularly excited for this because it has a) one of my favorite casts (some friends and I jokingly call it a futuristic AU for my historical Asian/liminal fantasy novel, The Color of Truth) b) I get to move feudal Japan into the future and c) samurai on motorcycles. Plus, it’s based on Robin Hood. I don’t think I could get much nerdier about this.
- What is your novel about, and what is the title?
I call it The Dying of the Light (yes, as in ‘rage, rage against’). The novel centers around Saizou, a lord who left his domain to serve his Emperor and fight in the gaijin wars. When he returns (+ one self-proclaimed bodyguard) he finds his country twisted into something unrecognizable. His domain has been given to someone else (along with Saizou’s childhood sweetheart) and oppression and injustice reign in the hands of the Emperor’s vile younger brother.
- Sum up your characters in one word each. Feel free to include pictures!
I’ll be honest – I have too many characters to sum up AND include pictures for. Just be assured that most of them look like jrockers with fabulous hair and too much leather.
Saizou (Robin Hood): passionate. Shi (Much): underappreciated. Tsuki (Marian): Daring. Shotgun (Little John): Impulsive. Kirikizu (Alan a’Dale): Resourceful. Hiro (Will Scarlet): Stealthy. Matahachi (Guy of Gisbourne): Tortured. Tokugawa Mamushi (Prince John): Vile. Winter (Friar Tuck): Hardcore. Haka (The Sheriff): Complicated.
Kiba: Silent. Otter: Determined. The Dog: Mistreated. Honey: Unpredictable. Riza: Clever. Virgo Zi: Free. Shima Zi: Practical. Capricorn: Sly. Ningyoo: Awesome.
- Which character(s) do you think will end up being your favorite? Tell us about them!
Well, that’s just nasty. I love everyone I mentioned above, with the exception of Tokugawa Mamushi (I just call him PJ for short). Honestly, just ask any of my friends – I’m horrible at picking favorites. They’re all special and important to me for different reasons – however, my friend Lauren believes that Virgo will end up being a reader favorite. We’ll just have to wait and see. (She’s already claimed Winter as her husband, anyway.)
- What is your protagonist’s goal, and what stands in his way?
His goal is to regain his domain and free the girl he loves. He doesn’t plan on rescuing Japan – that’s Shi’s idea. (Most things are.) Everything is against them – the ruler, the law, the general climate, the weather. Everything stands in their way.
- Where is your novel set?
It’s mainly set in futuristic Tokyo, Japan, around the year 2300. It’s going to be a fun mixture of old-fashioned feudal Japan (think late 1800’s) and the future, where androids work at bars and samurai carry laser-swords.
- What is the most important relationship your main character has?
Usually, people think of Robin and Marian as the most important central relationship, but if I’m totally honest, it’s actually Saizou and Shi rather than Saizou and Tsuki. Saizou would be dead if not for Shi, and Shi has saved Saizou’s life more times than Saizou would prefer to count. Shi is a steady voice of reason and a more loyal friend than Saizou usually deserves. Without him, there would be no novel.
- How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
While I want to keep most of the character development a surprise – that’s what reading is for – I will say that by the end, Saizou is not the same man we found at the beginning. (What? That’s it? Yeah, I’m sorry. But not really.)
- What themes are in your book? How do you want your readers to feel when the story is over?
Justice, loyalty, honor, love, relationships, and good versus evil are all strong themes for this novel (and themes I plan on mining to their full potential, if I can do such a thing in a month). I want readers to finish the novel feeling broken, pieced back together, and satisfied – but that’s what I want for every novel. Honestly, I’ll be thrilled if The Dying of the Light is as good as This Curious Madness (my JuNo).
NaNoWriMo BONUS: Tell us your 3 best pieces of advice for others trying to write a book in a month.
- Carry a notebook with you and write down every single idea you get. If you don’t have a notebook, use a paper napkin. If you don’t have a paper napkin, use your hand. Even if you lose it (the napkin or notebook, not your hand) the act of writing it down helps solidify it in your mind, making you less likely to forget it.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for word wars. I wouldn’t have finished my JuNo without them. Even if you aren’t good at word wars (I have two friends who are absolute queens of word-warring) the competition and exchange of results is both fun and encouraging.
- As always, don’t completely abandon the life around you. Make sure you stick your head out of your room/office/wherever-you-are for a breath of fresh air every few days. Also, showering and eating come highly recommended. However, it’s okay to skip out on things – if you over-stress during NaNo, your writing will suffer.
Oh, yeah – by the way, I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year. Sixth year in a row (+ a JuNo)! I can’t wait. It’s going to be the best one yet – I feel it in my bones.