Today I am delighted to invite Amanda Sun to talk to you all about her visit to Japan and her inspirations for her first novel in the Paper Gods series, Ink.
When I was in high school, I lived in Osaka on exchange. It was the Monday after I’d arrived, and my host sister, her friend and I were making the trek to her university—train, then bus, then walking uphill on steep streets. To pass the time, my host sister’s friend asked me, “What are you most looking forward to seeing in Japan?”
Keep in mind that, like Katie in INK, my Japanese was limited. I’d studied like crazy before arriving, but the forms of Japanese I’d learned had been so polite they were barely applicable to the casual speech of my friends and family. My strategy was to answer using words I knew, instead of struggling and flipping through my dictionary for every word.
What was I most looking forward to? I thought about the temples and shrines, the castle and the zen rock gardens. I didn’t know any of those words, so I tried to simplify. The old buildings? Yes, that was something I knew how to say.
So I opened my mouth and said, “furui biru.” Old buildings. EXCEPT. Because of my bad pronunciation with vowel lengths, and the strangeness of the words I’d strung together, it came out as sounding like “furii biiru.” Free beer.
You should’ve seen the look on my friends’ faces. But we all had a good laugh after, and I never made a mistake with long vowels again. At least, not one anyone’s burst out laughing about.
Writing INK was a challenge because I knew so well the language limitations that faced Katie. At the same time, how could I write a novel where no one could speak to each other? Katie needed to be able to have complicated conversations with Tomohiro and other characters. She needed to attend a Japanese school and take notes. So how could she accomplish all this with the language barrier?
First, I had Katie take a Japanese class in SHADOW before she arrived in Japan. Secondly, I added Japanese phrases to simulate how it felt for Katie, as well as to help capture the sound of what she was hearing. As the reader picks them up, so does Katie. Thirdly, I had some of the characters, like Yuki, speak quite good English and help Katie along.
And a couple times, Diane says to her, “Give it four or five months.” I met many exchange students in Japan, and they all agreed that after a few months, it was easy to speak to friends and family. INK takes place from March until July, so Katie gets more fluent as time goes on.
And here’s a behind-the-scenes secret. Katie has an unnatural aptitude for learning Japanese. But why? You’ll have to read to find out.
I hope you enjoy INK, and learn some Japanese as you follow Katie through her experiences in Japan. O-tanoshimi ni! Hope you look forward to it. ^_^
Thank you to Amanda and MiraInk for agreeing to stop off on my blog. Read my review here and below is some more information on author and book:
Amanda Sun was born in Deep River, a small town where she could escape into the surrounding forest to read. Ink is her first novel and The Paper Gods series is inspired by her time living in Osaka and travelling throughout Japan.
Visit her at www.AmandaSunBooks.com and on Twitter at @Amanda_Sun.
Available from amazon http://amzn.to/12FzSMN
Watch the trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7h51YUkiyGc