(No FCM this week. I wanted to finish up a post I started writing several years ago instead.)
Earthquakes are similar to first kisses in many ways. There’s that moment of uncertainty that starts it all off where you think something’s going to happen. Something exciting and frightening, but you’re not quite sure what. Nervousness works its way into your toes and slithers up your legs, sapping the strength from them. You’re afraid you’re going to fall.
Sometimes you do.
It’s still Monday somewhere. I promise.
A grueling gauntlet of cross-country travel delayed this post a bit. Four flights in barely 48 hours takes a lot out of someone.
Last week was full of grit and darkness, and this week’s first chapter isn’t much brighter. But where last week was grimdark fantasy, this week is a contemporary love story. A PETAL OF CHRYSANTHEMUM (are you seeing a pattern with flowers?) is a novel I wrote quite a few years ago, when I first started kicking the dust off of the keyboard and diving back into this writing thing that I’d pursued with such reckless abandon while in college. It takes place amidst the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. With a wife hailing from Japan, I’ve got quite a few emotional connections to that country, and the tsunami really hit me hard. I clearly remember not being able to work for several days as I stared in awe at photograph after photograph of a land that nature had all but erased. A land that on multiple levels I’ve fallen in love with over the years.
I put this book aside for a while to pursue writing middle grade fantasy for kids (and there’s some of that coming in future weeks!) but recently I’ve returned to it and started making edits. As with the other entries in this series, this is not a fully polished novel yet. It’s just a snapshot of a book that’s been through several revision passes and is currently undergoing some subtle (and even not-so-subtle) edits to see if I can really make it sing.
I originally drafted this novel in 2011-2012, shortly after relocating to Seattle, when my family was temporarily living overseas. I think that feeling of isolation bled into this one somewhat subconsciously. It’s fun going back and reading all these things I wrote, and thinking through what I was feeling and doing at the time. Each novel I write is a mirror into the state of my soul at the time. I only hope the subsequent edits don’t tarnish the reflection.
Without further ado, the opening chapter of A PETAL OF CHRYSANTHEMUM.
This many. For historical fiction, at least.
And that’s not counting the vast array of internet resources I had at my disposal or the copious amount of time I lived in, worked in, and traveled around Japan.
An island nation torn apart by warring houses, each vying for control of the throne. House O occupies the capital. An old friend of House O, the lord of House T from the north, turns on O and marches to remove him from the throne. On the cusp of victory, the lord of House T is mysteriously assassinated. Following a succession of betrayals and illnesses, T’s fourth son takes over the house. His poor leadership skills and inability to rally his house leads to its total dissolution, as internal factions split off to support neighboring houses. The House of T, long the ruler of the north and favored lord to win the game of thrones fades into the mists of time.
It’s been two years since I posted here last. Which may make things seem rather quiet, but they’ve been anything but.
I’ve been hard at work on a project. Something I haven’t really spoken of here. A project I never expected would be of interest to me, but I fell madly in love with it every day I thought about it. It called to me. I hope I’ve done it justice.
More details to come, because I’ve learned a lot on this journey that I want to share, but for now the key points:
- It’s historical fiction.
- The first draft is complete.
- It takes place in Japan.
- The below image is relevant.
First up, I finished drafting another book this week. It’s called CREATUREFALL and it’s kind of like Pokémon except the Pokémon eat people. I sent it off to my agent just yesterday. I updated the header for the time being with the cool artwork my friend Stephane Imbert drew.
I talked about it briefly in my last post about diverse books. The main character’s a thirteen-year-old dwarf trying to live up to the legacy of his mother who was a famous warrior in the last creaturefall. Talk about your 30,000 foot summaries…
But this post is not about that book. I’ll post about CREATUREFALL another time. This post is about creatures, though, so it’s at least tangentially related.
It is finished.
Last night I finished writing RYOJI AND THE RIDDLE MASTERS. And maybe someday you can read it. It’s a tale about a boy becoming so much more than he ever dreamed possible, about the difficulty of changing the nature of things. The virtues and follies of pacifism, the role of honor, the shattering of our innocent worldview as we cross that threshold from childhood into our teenage years.
Did I mention it’s set in a fantastical version of Heian-era Japan, steeped in Japanese mythology with a dash of steampunk? There are riddle duels with spirits in the underworld, pirates armed to the teeth with swords and metallic flame-throwing birds, jealousy, betrayal, and at the center of it a boy torn between his parents: his father of the old guard, his mother leading the rebellion of the new.
It’s been five years in the making, and now it is out of my hands, and into the hands of the illustrious Beta Readers.
I hope they like it. And if they don’t, I hope to use their feedback to forge it into something greater. And someday I hope to share it with you all.
Saddle up, it’s queryin’ time.