It started while watching the 2009 Kazuaki Kiriya film ‘Goemon.’ The actors were stellar; some of my favorite. And Goemon is Japan’s equivalent to Robin Hood, so the story concept was excellent. The movie itself, unfortunately, was not so great; and the ending was tragically bad. I was beyond miffed. This was exactly the kind of thing I wanted to see more of, done in a way that almost made me regret watching it….but not quite. I still had to write my novel for NaNoWriMo that year, and it came easily to me. It was going to be a futuristic, cyberpunk-esque science-fantasy reimagining of the Robin Hood/Goemon myth. In my head, I saw it as an anime, or perhaps a half-anime like Castlevania (although Castlevania hadn’t come out yet at the time). I knew the cast of characters. Robin Hood and Much would be Saizou Akita, returning to Japan after years fighting in China, and Much would be Shi Matsumoto; ex-guerilla fighter and steady voice of reason. The Sheriff of Nottingham would now be Haka, the head of the Shinsengumi force within Tokyo Proper. Guy of Gisbourne would be the cold, soft-spoken Matahachi, and Maid Marian would be Lady Tsuki; the young noblewoman torn between helping Saizou and saving the people who might get hurt by his endeavors. Shotgun would be a tall red-haired giant with a big heart and a bigger mouth; Friar Tuck would be an ex-mercenary living in a shinto temple after a vow of peace; Alan-a-Dale would be an assassin working for ‘Prince John,’ or Prince-Regent Mamushi: i.e. the most hated villain I’ve written to date. [Even I can’t love him, even though I pity him.]
It came together beautifully, but I was absolutely not alone. I wrote constantly alongside my parabatai Arielle [also my editor], and there were consistent, wild, and driving conversations with my Lauren [also my cover artist]. Characters were born out of seemingly random conversations; including Alucard [no relation to the vampire], a Frankenstein-like little monster with boundless potential and a story arc I can’t wait to write in books 2 and 3. I watched almost exclusively Japanese films and listened almost exclusively to Japanese rock, although the playlist has expanded a great deal since then.
If someone asked me what my two favorite books were, that I’d ever written in my entire life, I would have to say The Dying of the Light and The Eigengrau (hopefully coming spring 2021 but that’s another story, quite literally). The Dying of the Light has a huge and varied cast of characters. I was invested in every single one of them. I was able to explore a vibe I love – a mixture of cyberpunk, urban fantasy, and science fiction, while keeping it grounded in personal struggles. Every character got a chance to be three-dimensional, even the secondary antagonists (and the antagonists are some of my favorite characters I’ve ever written). I got to write redemption arcs. I will get to write descension arcs. Characters surprised me. My love for this book, and this trilogy-in-the-works, is boundless.
It’s also not a young adult novel.
I wanted to write an adult novel that read like a YA novel. As a reader, adult novels frequently annoy me by getting too stuffy or pretentious, by altering dialogue to sound Intellectual or stiff because adult novels can’t be as fun or engaging to read as YA, right? I had tested the waters with Dark is the Night, which had that ‘a 13-year-old could read it but so could a 35-year-old’ feel. This book was going to be different. This book is not for young teenagers and it is not for more sensitive readers. With this book I explored darker and more uncomfortable real-world themes; I was able to personally address issues like abuse and savagery in wartime without sliding it out of frame for younger readers. This book means the world to me.
And finally, after enormous amounts of hard work from Arielle (editing), Lauren (the cover), and Morgan (the formatting + designing), the book is nearly ready. At midnight on December 31st, The Dying of the Light will be available on Amazon and other internet sellers. Be warned: She is T H I C K. This novel is 656 pages long [I struggled with the publisher over pricing because this sucker is not cheap to print, apparently]. She’s a beautiful book and I can’t wait to have a physical copy in my hands; but never fear—an ebook will also be available. I can’t wait.