Yesterday we posted Jin Okubo’s excerpt from his book Kaoru: In Loves Shadow. Today he discusses the book, his different romance writing style, and where his characters come from.
Is this your first book? How long did it take you to plan it before you began writing it?
This is not my first book, though it is my first true romance. I went through a six month thought process before I finally started to put pen to paper as the saying goes. Though there was no true path that the story was to take, I did have an idea of what I wanted to do with the story.
Is this book part of a series? If so, when can we look forward to the next book being published?
This book is part of a duet. Kaoru: In Loves Shadow is the ending to a unique story arc. Love was the first of the series and it is already out.
Do you mostly write in this particular genre or do you dabble in other genres? If so, which ones?
I have a tendency to write romance. Even when I write fantasy, it tends to be have romantic undertones. There is just something intriguing to me about the relationship dynamic of romance. Especially when you can build a world and still have that romantic aspect shining through without taking away from the fantasy story.
What do you think makes your work stand apart from other works in your genre?
My romance is relationship-style romance, and while there are many works that deal with the subject, my work brings you into the life of the couple. You are right there with them. In Love you are actually in the head of the male partner while in Kaoru: In Loves Shadow, you are standing next to Kaoru as she plans, executes and lives the relationship.
I also focus more on the mental and emotional parts of the relationship rather than the physical.
Is there anything in your life that inspired you to write Kaoru: In Loves Shadow, Love, or was this purely from your imagination?
My life in relationships and the women in my life in general brought about the female lead in my work Love and Kaoru: In Loves Shadow. And while this question is asking for one book, these two books are so intertwined that they are different sides of the same coin. My life is the basis for many parts of the text, especially when it comes to how the critical points are resolved.
Are any of the characters in your book based on people you know or have seen/talked to in real life?
While Robert has a lot of my tendencies, Kaoru is an amalgamation of the women in my
life. To build her mental and physical self I took from my past and present. The events and how the characters behaved are in essence from the people in my life and my own personality and behavior.
Do your friends and family know you’re a writer? Were they surprised when you told them?
My friends and family know I am a writer. And I think it took them by surprise when I first came out as an author. Once they saw that this is a big part of my future dreams they all started to support me in one way or another.
What inspires you to write? Music? Other books? Real life events? Just an incredible imagination?
Given the nature of my writing and my own personality, I need music to write. The events in my life fit nicely into the story, but over all I want a certain tone to flow through my book. And for that I bring about a certain song and listen to it on a loop as I write. When I wrote Love, it was Meatloaf’s song “For Crying Out Loud”. When I wrote Kaoru: In Loves Shadow the song was “Jewel Hands”.
Are you part of any writers’ groups? If so, what do you like about them? How do they help you or inspire you? If not, why not?
I am a part of some author groups, which help in teaching me about marketing and presentation of my work. I find it hard to get inspiration from other people when they offer it. I tend to be more of a recluse in my writing until it is finished, then I bring it out and give it to beta readers and editors. Over all the support from the community for me has not been favorable, which has turned me into not asking too much in help for my writing.
In that case I have turned to some author friends for my fine tuning, but the inspiration must come and has come from me.
Do you plan your writing out with outlines, character development exercises, and other pre-writing activities? Or do you just write as it comes to you?
I just write. The planning I do before I start is just on deciding how I want the story told. Then the story reveals itself to me as I write. I do write in chapters with each chapter being a small mini-story but then the editing smooths it all out to fit nicely together in the end.
Did you do any research for this book?
During my six months of thinking about how I wanted to tell this story I did a bit of reading into mixed relationships, including my own. I also spent my days thinking about how two people drive each other forward and did a few questionnaires online about relationships and watched a few videos about how relationships fail and succeed.
Do you read the kinds of books you like to write? Do you watch movies similar to or the same genre as your writing?
The answer to both questions is yes, but with a BUT. I tend to read everything. If a book is put in front of me I will read it. The same goes for movies. I love entertainment – who doesn’t, right? So yes, I read the kinds of books I like to write. I also watch movies and listen to music and enjoy the whole genre.
Now what is different is that when I am in my writing bubble I do not read the genre I am writing. I also do not watch movies on the subject. It is just me, my chosen song, and my novel.
If you could write anywhere in the world – in a fictional or nonfiction place – where would you write?
I am writing there now. I live in Japan and this is costing me dearly as I am not able to do many things that other indie authors do in order to promote myself. But I love Japan and have wanted to live here permanently as far back as I can remember.
Now if you don’t mind I would also like to answer the fictional place. I would love to write in the holodeck of the starship Enterprise. The one from Star Trek: The Next Generation. My reason is because it could place me anywhere in time and space and bring me closer to some of my favorite writers. I could discuss poetry with Yeats, Poe, Whitman. I could talk character flaws with Shakespeare, Lovecraft, etc.
All Romance Ebooks website
There are few interesting things that can be said about my home town. I grew up in a mildly racist country town in the Santa Barbara mountains, though I am hopeful that things have changed there. Having grown up during the great migrant issues of California during the 80’s and 90’s, I was able to experience some of the issues when I was getting my higher education in university. The biggest part of my life was finding my self-identity, which was never truly clear to me as a youth.
Upon finishing my university studies I moved to the beautiful country of Japan only to bounce back and forth between the U.S and Japan for a couple of years. Finally, I received my Japanese citizenship in the spring of 2014. My life has been filled with many strong women which is one of the contributing factors for my protagonists tending to be women.
I am a lover of classical literature. I hope to bring in a new style of classical literature to the current age of fast paced easy to read cookie cutter style novels that are being pushed out in mass across the world. Choosing to stick to my own style of writing rather than to write for easy to sell books has made my work difficult to get into, yet it is the joy of writing that is the reason as to why I do things the way I do.
There is always the temptation to write easy to digest books that are made to sell, rather than books that are written for an experience reader and very few writers have mastered both. As I work to improve my craft, I am inching my way ever closer to that perfect balance of books that will satisfy the modern reader and the reader who focuses more on content rather than face value.
I would like to make a comment to my would be readers: “I write to challenge my reader. As you face this challenge you will find that you will grow to love the characters I have created. This love will bring a deeper understanding to my writing and my characters more.”
Facebook author page: www.facebook.com/Jin-Okubo-Author-1742935872603584/