Demon Heart follows a a cop in Osaka who must hide the fact that she’s a demon hybrid while stopping a fanatic from acquiring an ancient artifact. What was the inspiration behind the idea for this suspenseful novel?
There were three important factors that contributed to the creation of this novel. The first was the exposure to the Japanese animation and cinema after my immigration to the United States in 1987. I am a great fan of the movies of Akira Kurosawa and also a great fan of Japanese anime, which is very beautifully made and with great attention to detail and emotional realism. My second inspiration came from the exposure to the Japanese customs and traditions as well as a unique way of thinking. Japan is the most technologically advanced country in the world and yet it is deeply rooted in old traditions. I admire their hard work, their designs and their great emphasis on personal honor and respect of people and nature. The third reason for the creation of this book was my strong and enduring friendship with my beautiful Japanese female friend, a young lady whom I met in college. My main character Naoko Kitamura is partly based on her character and her looks, and she is very beautiful!
Naoko Kitamura’s lineage and background were immensely interesting. How did you develop her background and what were some aspects that were important for you to focus on?
In my character design of Naoko Kitamura I made a reference to the formula followed by the writers and artists of Japanese manga and American graphic novels. This formula is simple. If you are an extraordinary person, it’s very hard for you to live an ordinary life. This is true of all superheroes, and Naoko Kitamura can be definitely classified as one. In developing her background and human-demonic lineage, I wanted to present her as a unique creature of both worlds, material and spiritual, a being of darkness and light blessed and cursed with immense powers and capability for great destruction. At the same time, I wanted her to take responsibility for everything she does. Since Naoko is Japanese, she does receive guidance and wisdom from her demonic ancestral memory and her mother, who is herself a demon hybrid. I wanted to present my protagonist as a strong, intelligent and independent woman and yet vulnerable both emotionally and physically, even if she can recover from almost any injury.
Osaka Japan is beautifully detailed in this story. What kind of research did you undertake to ensure things were accurate?
It is very important for every writer to get things right, especially if he or she is writing about another culture and people that represent that culture. A full year of intense and fascinating research went into creation of this novel. I wanted to understand not only how the modern japan works but to understand the intricacies of the Japanese mindset, their philosophy, history and their attitude toward life and death. I explored everything from food to movies to Japanese novels as well as interviews of my Japanese friends and study of books about Japan written by both academics and travelers, as well as fiction writers who studied Japanese culture and shared their findings with the world. Working on research for this novel was a great fun and a labor of love. I often try to place myself in my protagonist’s shoes and visualize their thoughts and actions to achieve the best literary as well as cinematic effect.
Do you have more stories planned that include Naoko?
Yes, I do have more stories planned for my demon hybrid protagonist Naoko Kitamura. Demon Heart is the first novel of the trilogy, which I plan to gradually introduce to our readers in the near future. Sometimes it is hard to determine whether or not the story would have a continuation. To make the series featuring a single main protagonist required a large amount of material to work with. I ended the Demon Heart novel with a scene that would hint on Naoko’s continuing adventures and a new life and a new identity that she would have to assume after making a heroic sacrifice to save her city from destruction. In the following novels, Naoko Kitamura will once again rise to defend her country and people she loves not just on the national but international scale. To my readers I would like to stay tuned for the more upcoming adventures of Naoko. One thing I would like to add is that she will return!
Voice of the Crimson Angel Part II: Poison finds Julissa ready to take on Chancellor Venloran while the United Nation Republic is gearing up to take over Mexico. Was this book an easy continuation of part I or did you have to plan and develop the story before writing?
VOCA Part II took quite a bit of planning, up there with End of Knighthood Part III: Ballad of Demise. I knew telling the entire story of The Expansion from start to finish wasn’t really possible (outside of a very, very, long novel), so I isolated the events that seemed most important and then tied the main characters to them. VOCA Part II, I think more than any other of my previous work, challenged my use of setting. Writing tests an author in odd ways, and one of those ways for me was geography. The setting in question, of course, Mexico. How big is this city? Is it dry or wet this time of year? Is it a metropolis or a small town? Luckily, my story takes place in the future, so I can tweak things, but I prefer going off reality. The first round of writing left VOCA Part II shorter than I wanted, but the final product I’m most pleased with.
Weird thing is at first, I was paying very little attention to the current situation. When I conceived of The Expansion, I was looking at it as a continuation of Manifest Destiny, where Americans expanded westward. The more I examined the history of expanded empires, The Expansion became more and more interesting to write. It went from being a small part of the original book to an integral backdrop for the Iranian characters. Now it’s the main focus in the VOCA trilogy. In future stories, I hope to explore neocolonialism more. Since 2016, immigration has become one of the most decisive topics in the American politics. It influenced me as I watched debates and heard different arguments, but it’s a bit different in VOCA Part II. In the book, the focus is more about imperialism reborn than the push for isolation that we’re experiencing now. What the book does do, I hope, is paint a picture of the circumstances that I feel are similar to current events. For example, I think no matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, people accept that we live in an era where patriotism is a very touchy issue. Even critique from a person within the system can lead to harsh cries of them being “unamerican.” Blind patriotism, more than anything, fuels a beast like Venloran and his UNR. What I also wanted to focus on was displacement. Civilians can be turned into dissidents when pushed. People have forgotten that the Mujahideen that battled the Soviet Union was propped up by the United States. This same organization became Al-Qaeda, and in the age of the “War on Terror”, we’ve seen an upsurge in the formation of radical groups. I would argue that intervention, this need to intervene and ‘democratize’ other areas around the globe, fuels fundamentalists. Former New York Times writer Chris Hedges (who was fired around the start of the Iraq War) called the usage of violence a disease. Therefore “Poison” was the proper title for this installment. What I wanted to do with the book was take the “War on Terror” and move it closer to home. Instead of across the Atlantic in countries most Americans have never been to, I wanted to imagine it happening right next door.
Have you tried exploring other mediums for your series; games, comic books, etc? I ask because you have developed such a rich backstory already.
I’m not much of a gamer, so I’ve never really considered that route. Comics, however, have always intrigued me. I’ve always been obsessed with visuals (one of my worst habits was the tendency to doodle during class). Comics, namely graphic novels, have always been a favorite medium of mine. You can say a whole lot with just a single frame, and not to mention a good use of color goes a long a way in establishing the mood. The look of the cyborg uniforms, namely the overcoat, was inspired by the Blade design from Marvel comics, while the armor itself is actually manga-based. As a child, I’ve read my share of manga, including Dragon Ball. Unfortunately, I can’t draw all that well. If I could meet a comic book artist who wanted to tell a story from Reverence, I’d be honored to be a part of such a project.
I’ve actually given some thought to this! After all, as I write I often listen to my favorite movie soundtracks. This helps me set the mood and envision a scene: scary might be Ennio Morricone, action-oriented Hans Zimmer, and somber along the lines of Michael Giacchino. Naturally, sometimes I envision certain faces of certain characters. The big one is Will, and for him I could see Will Smith or Denzel Washington taking the role. They are both older and can play action heroes, but all while still giving them emotional resonance. Another instacast for me is Liam Neeson as Chancellor Venloran. This is largely due to his portrayal of Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins (2005). He’s calm yet menacing, all without being over-the-top. One of my favorites to envision would be Jessica Chastain as Gabriella Neeson. After seeing her in Interstellar(2014), I was thoroughly convinced. She’s both gorgeous, tough as nails, and can portray a character who is anything but a damsel in distress (no thanks Cameron Diaz). Others are mind boggling. In the case of Marisol Leone, for example, it’s really hard to pin down. One of these days, I’ll sit down and sort them all out.
Julissa Marconi is finally ready to be a soldier again, and now it’s time to take on the tyrannical Chancellor Venloran. With Captain Halsey and her daughter Zaneta by her side, the resistance is the last line of defense preventing the United Nation Republic from seizing the country of Mexico. The combat will prove bloody as Venloran sends his cyborg warriors to squash all opposition. As bullets fly and bodies pile up, Julissa will be forced to consider what she’s capable of. To defeat the enemy, she may just have to become the enemy.
Welcome back to the world of the Reverence series with Voice of a Crimson Angel Part II: Poison. Witness the spark that lit the fire.
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Some time ago my friends and I were sitting in a small restaurant near our office in Amsterdam. Food was great, the conversation was flowing, and even though I don’t exactly remember what we were talking about, a spontaneous and intriguing thought popped up in my head.
Are my books bored?
Of course, I love all my books, and every time I bought one I always treated it with the upmost respect but, was that enough? How boring must it be to sit on a bookshelf…. forever?
Some of them, like ‘The Courts of Chaos’, I keep re-reading every month, but most of them I just read once and it is over.
I thought a bit more about the reason why. I feel like it is related to latest data-driven optimizations and profiling trends in all entertainment. Movies, Video games, Anime and Books, big studios/companies/mangakas are producing so much, and so much of it looks good-ish, but turns out to be just exploitation of the market. Very few want to put themselves out there and push the boundary so they can make me re-live their story over and over again. Kind of depressing when you think about it. I am not saying that great work is less than before, it is just harder (for me) to find.
Anyway, this was a bit off topic. After I thought about my books sitting on that lonely bookshelf at home, I thought, how cool it will be if I could just share them with my neighbors?
First I would meet someone who reads things that I read, and, for purely selfish reasons, I could ask this person to recommend me some books that I might like, or at least books that I would want to get from his re-reading book list.
That seemed really awesome!
I shared the idea with my friends, and they also loved it, so we decided to build a platform to facilitate borrowing and lending books. We launched https://www.booknomads.com.
Shortly after, I shared my first book ‘The Design and Implementation of the FreeBSD Operating System’ (https://www.booknomads.com/browse/book/165/1) and it felt great. I learned so much from it, it was a shame for it to sit all day long, bored and ignored on a bookshelf. Now it is on an adventure by being a booknomad 🙂
BookNomads is still quite young and you can help us improve it by giving us feedback, or adding your books.
Any feedback is invaluable.
Thanks in advance!
PS: My daughter(6 yo) also loves it, and now she is waiting for someone to borrow her books so she can make new friends.
PPS: I wonder if there is a name for that feeling you get after you finish a book, the more the book resonates with me the stronger it is. It feels like emptiness and completeness at the same time, as if I am stretched into the abyss. I want to get the books that made you feel like that!
Borrow books around you
because books deserve to travel
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Apocalypsia details a post-apocalyptic Earth. Demons comb the land and what is left of humanity struggles to survive and trust one another. What was the inspiration that made you want to write such an immersive story?
I had a lot of time on my hands (haha). I was in my early twenties, worked two days a week, living in my parents’ basement, and was addicted to video games. Writing was my way to keep my mind active and a way to escape my uneventful reality. It started out as some dark and depressing poetry (some of which appears in the book). I felt like the only way I could find meaning in this world is if it ended. That was the idea that sparked Apocalypsia. I wanted to go on an adventure, and if I couldn’t live it, I could at least create it. I also drew inspiration from authors like Edgar Allen Poe, and Charles Dickens, and stories like Beowulf and Lord of the Rings.
This story is a fun blend of science fiction, fantasy and post-apocalyptic. Did you plan the novel before you wrote or did this happen organically?
I was told to always know the ending of your story before you begin. Apocalypsia was the exception. I had no idea where this story was going to go. At times I felt the story was telling itself and I was just the messenger. I never thought about what will come next only what was happening now.
In its infancy I wanted to make Apocalypsia a graphic novel. I wrote it into twenty-five separate books in a little over a year and a half. Since I cannot draw or know an artist that could take on this huge project I rewrote it to read more like a manga, but without the art; since I was into Japanese anime at that time. About a year later I developed a love of screenplays and the desire to write them. Apocalypsia was rewritten again into three different scripts due to its length and the 80-120 page constraint of a normal screenplay. When I discovered self-publishing the book that exists today got another overhaul. The book gained new content and became a little darker too. I was older so everyone in the story had to grow up also. Overall it took seven years and several rewrites before Apocalypsia appeared in our hands.
What is your writing experience and how has that helped you write Apocalypsia?
I actually wrote all of my books as screenplays first until I learned about self-publishing. I reformatted my screenplays into novelized script versions by taking away all the screenplay lingo, headers and directions, but kept the name of the speaker before my dialogue to cut down on “he said” “she said” throughout the entire story. Screenplays taught me about plot points and showing not telling. I learned to write a good ending and a good beginning and then finding out how to link the two. I learned how to write books by thinking about them as movies. Usually screenplays are the product of books. My books are products of screenplays.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have started writing a steampunk story. I think that will be a cool genre to explore. I have the beginning written and several notes about the world, technology and devices that exist, and character backgrounds and personalities, but I’m still working on the plot so no release date in sight yet.
Much of civilization lies in ruins after the mysterious happenings of a demonic uprising. In this post-apocalyptic world survivors must scavenge for supplies while taking up arms against demons, goblins, and even each other.
When an ally’s fort is attacked; a small group of survivors take it upon themselves to unite and stand against the further spread of demons. Along the way new allies agree to stand with them. Encountering stronger demonic threats and the discovery of an ancient artifact, which could destroy the boundaries between Hell and Earth, causes a collision of the human resistance into an epic final battle with the demonic forces.
Posted in Interviews
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The Genocide Gene is the third book in the thrilling Onryo Saga and continues the adventures of the teenage superheroes in their fight to save humanity. I felt this story was very well written. What is your experience as a writer?
In addition to term papers in grad school, I wrote fanfiction about my favorite shows growing up. It was great practice to hone my craft and experiment with my original concepts. As fun as that was, nothing beats creating original characters and guiding them on a hero’s journey.
One thing that stands out to me in The Genocide Gene is the creativity embedded in this world. What was your inspiration for creating such and imaginative world?
As I was researching Africa, I had to come up with ways to integrate what I had learned into a creative storyline. I read about the business of portable gas stoves, so I had a battle in a factory. I read about the African boda-boda drivers, so I envisioned a chase scene on their mopeds. Every time I read something interesting, I wondered how I can utilize it in an exciting way.
I also created my own African country so that I could integrate the culture, history and issues of other countries into it, such as civil wars and age-old divisions brought about by European colonization. That way, I could write about the political problems of places such as Uganda, the Congo, South Africa and others all at once.
The Genocide Gene has an intriguing setup to a novel that is high in social commentary. What was your moral goal when writing this novel and do you feel you’ve achieved it?
Bringing people together in harmony has always been my main goal, whether it be American liberals and conservatives or feuding African tribes. I wanted to present a war-torn nation keep impoverished and dysfunctional due to prejudice and hatred, but it was important to show people of other backgrounds getting along in spite of what their groups teach them. While the political extremists seek to tear their nation apart through fear, those who serve the cause of unity and understanding are the only ones who can bring peace to their people. While my conclusion can’t happen in real life, I can only keep the faith that the people of these lands find ways to bring about prosperity.
When will the fourth book in the Onryo saga be available and where will it take readers?
The Tree of Zaqqum will take readers to Israel/Palestine, and others Middle Eastern locations too. My heroes will have to stop a mysterious mastermind and his followers from destroying cities with stolen WMDs and quantum technology. Their friendship is further tested as Chikara gains a new ally that may become something more.
I’m still in the research phase at that moment, but the story is coming together piece by piece. I’m guess it may take two years to complete.
“It has been only a few months since Chikara Kaminari was given strange powers and a mission from her precognitive mother. Joined by her friends Renka and Gen, she traveled the world and stopped a band of super-powered extremists from imposing their will upon humanity. Now, a new menace has surfaced to threaten the lives of millions.
In the segregated African nation of Ghadhia, two fanatical brothers are scheming to ignite a new civil war and commit genocide against the tribes they have been raised to hate. The heroic trio must unite with new friends and old enemies to stop them, facing African terrorists, Afrikaner supremacists and enraged mobs along the way. But as Chikara and her friends journey further into the heart of darkness, their deepest fears and hidden feelings threaten to tear their friendship apart.”
Posted in Interviews
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“Japanese teenager Chikara Kaminari, while heartbroken by the death of her mother, inherits a strange black ring. Her mother’s will tells her to share it with her best friend, Renka, and a socialist student named Gen, so that they can save the world from political fanatics. Guided only by cryptic clues yet honor bound to obey her mother, Chikara does as she’s told. As the three develop extraordinary abilities, including emotional manipulation and control over darkness, they set out to uncover the origin of the ring and its connection to their mind-controlling school bully, Michiko.
Their destiny becomes clearer as Michiko’s power grows beyond her control, setting a classmate on a murderous rampage. As predicted, dangerous extremists appear, seeking to use the ring’s power to force their political views onto all of humanity. Chikara and her friends must put aside their partisanship and become the heroes they were destined to be.”
The Onryō by Rocco Ryg is a science fiction fantasy set in Japan. It is reminiscent of a traditional manga where teenagers are the main characters and take on heroic roles with outlandish situations. Some of the outlandish situations include the supernatural elements that writers often feature in Japanese manga and their other works. The book follows the main character, Chikara, through mostly a third person point of view. You get to see the thoughts of Chikara along with other people who she comes in contact, which is vital. Additionally, the main character makes exponential growth from beginning to end.
The first line of the book immediately draws you in. The writing of the book comes off as a very well done first draft that could use a bit of reviewing. Some of the emotions are not explored much, there were minimal grammatical mistakes, and there was one instance in which what was explained did not match what was said beforehand. The writing style increasingly gets better as you continue reading it. As such, it could have done with a bit more reviewing before publishing, but it does not keep one from enjoying the book.
You can tell from reading it that the person is a fan of Japanese cultures, as it reads like someone who knows about the culture and admires it rather than from an individual who was born in Japan. But again, it does not keep you from enjoying the book. The author was clearly influenced by their love of manga, as it was mentioned throughout. Additionally, there were many manga elements within the book, such as focusing on teenage girls, supernatural powers, and teenage romance
The plot of the book was interesting, but a little slow moving. However, it picked back up toward the end. The written action parts are genuinely some of my favorite scenes of the book. The supernatural elements are fascinating and the way it was incorporated not only made sense, but it is an exciting read. Although, the book did have stereotypical women in some places, it still led to some intriguing plot developments and character clashes.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys manga, Japanese culture, and action. It contains much fast-paced action, which is exciting. I can only expect the sequel to be better than the first as the writing and character development of the story improves as it goes on, making any future works by the author promising. The ending of the book, while slow to build, was fantastic. I loved the ending and the change in the main character. It made me want to read the sequel.
Pages: 237 | ASIN: B0058KSKHW
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