Saturday, June 28, 2014

Guest Post with author Anna Frost

Today you all get to spend some time with author Anna Frost.
I'm excited!  Hope you guys are too.

Three Cool Places in Japan That Inspired My Work and One That Didn’t

Hi! My name is Anna Frost and I’m the author of The Kitsune Trilogy, a fantasy set in a world designed to mimic Japan’s feudal era. In this guest post I’d like to demonstrate why on-site research is the absolutely best way to find unexpected ideas and inspiration.

I wrote the first volume of the trilogy before I visited Japan and I wrote the second volume after. This quickly becomes obvious if you look at the places I visited and the ways they influenced the second volume’s plot. I hope you like pictures, because there will be pictures.

1. Kyoto Imperial Palace

During the feudal era, Kyoto was the capital of Japan. The old imperial palace is now empty and carefully preserved. Since the palace burned down several times during its long history, I couldn’t rely too much on the details or layout of its current incarnation, but I did come away with a feel for its zen elegance and a burning desire to use it as a setting in The Fox’s Quest.

2. Osaka Museum of Housing and Living

The museum’s main attraction is a true to scale reconstruction of a city section in the Edo Period. It’s a relatively small area (a main street and an alley) but it’s enough to submerge you into the past. The difference between the alley filled with tiny single-room homes and the rich merchant’s house is rather shocking!

This is the place that spawned my desire to write a chase scene on city rooftops in The Fox’s Quest, even though it portrays a different city and era than the ones I mimic. Rooftops are rooftops after all. :)

3. All the Castles!

I love castles of all kinds but I have to admit Japanese castles have a certain flair and elegance that European ones can’t match. They look badass from outside, they’re beautiful inside (polished wood floors! tatami!), and many are built on top of hills so the view from the top tends to be amazing. We visited several castles during our trip and I’m not quite sure which one this is, but just look at that architecture!

After seeing that, you shouldn’t be surprised to find out The Fox’s Quest features an old, seemingly abandoned castle that hosts a tiny shinobi clan (in other words, ninja).

4. Lost Opportunity: Nara

Nara is one of the oldest cities in Japan. It boasts seven different Buddhist temples, among them the Great Eastern Temple and the Great Western Temple. Both of these temples feature in my made-up world, but they bear very little resemblance to the real ones since I repurposed them as training grounds for ghost-hunting monks.

I already knew I wanted my characters to go to Nara at some point, so I should have made the most of our time there and visited the temples, shouldn’t I? Well, oops. You see, modern Nara is known for its tame sika deer. Its adorable, want-you-to-feed-them deer. So instead of doing research, I spent the day feeding fuzzy animals. I should feel ashamed, but they were really cute.

There’s an ancient historical structure behind me but I’m too busy feeding the deer to pay attention to it. Bad author, bad!

I’ve since finished the trilogy (the last volume is coming out next month!), but I hope to visit Japan again soon. :)

About the author:

Anna Frost is a Canadian girl who spends winters writing and dreaming of summer. An overdose of Japanese culture and media has led her to write fantasy inspired by Japanese mythology. In a shocking break with literary tradition, Anna does not live with cats. Instead she lives with chinchillas, which can be just as demanding and evil as cats.

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A bit about The Fox's Mask:

Demon hunter Akakiba keeps many secrets from his human companion. The fact he's a werefox isn't the worst one.

In feudal Japan, magic is dying. As a demon hunter, Akakiba finds this problematic. The evil he's been trained to destroy is disappearing and, along with it, the shape-shifting abilities of the clan he left behind. With his only companion, a determined young human named Yuki, Akakiba traverses the country slaying demons and performing odd jobs.

But when an army of demon possessed humans masses to exterminate his clan, Akakiba must put aside old feuds and protect his family–all while hiding an important secret from Yuki. Will they find a way to defeat the demon possessed before it's too late? With magic dwindling, will it matter either way?

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