Have you seen it? Those of us who read get as fan-girly as every groupie you have ever seen for our favorite authors. When I saw the opportunity to get Amanda Sun here on my blog – I lept at the chance. Her debut novel Ink just blew me away when I read it for inclusion in my Children’s reads week. This YA novel uses imagery and mythology from Japan, incorporates the language and culture, and presents a story that gives a slice of life for an ex-pat teenaged girl. I loved her research and incorporation of all of the elements that gave the story a unique perspective, and her ability to imagine and then reproduce her characters, making them feel current and modern, and allow them to make their own mistakes made it one of my favorite YA reads of the year. And you can read my review after this lovely interview with Amanda Sun. PLUS – don’t forget to enter the giveaway here on my blog for your own eBook copy (US and Canadian readers only) of Ink, Book 1 in the Paper Gods series, sponsored by the publisher. Enter via this Rafflecopter – drawing will end on 9 August, with a winner announced on 10 August – notified via email.
And now – I bring you Amanda Sun
Thank you for being a willing participant in this process, I appreciate the time!
Let’s just get down to it:
Why a YA story? What difficulties did writing with a younger audience in mind bring?
I actually find writing for adults far more difficult. *laugh* I find adult characters can come across as tired or jaded, having dealt with too many “real life” woes. Teen characters have this energy to them; you can’t tell them they can’t do it. They know they can take on those evil fairy kings or moving drawings. You can’t stop them. There’s so much potential there, in their school life, their relationships, and their creative life—they’ll accept those paranormal powers and find a way to use them to succeed. That’s what I love about teen protags. I think YA fiction pushes the boundaries of what can be written, and it’s such an exciting genre to be in.
The only difficulties that come up are things like getting the parents and responsibilities out of the way so that the teens can go and save the world. Curfews, homework, and other drama tend to get in the way, so it’s a tricky balance to have those aspects of their life included without taking over the story.
The cover of this book is striking and beautiful – did the same artist do the illustrations in the book as well?
Thank you so much! I really love all the detail the design team put into INK. The cover is watercolor paper, which speaks to Tomo’s work as an artist, and there are also illustrations and flip animations in the page corners. All the art relates back to the plot, and since INK is written from Katie’s POV, the art gives Tomo a chance to communicate directly to the reader through his artwork.
The cover artist is Petra Dufkova, and the interior illustrator is Ross Siu. I think both styles really work well together to capture the style of Japanese ink wash paintings, and Tomo’s own personal sketching style. There are interviews with both artists in the back pages of INK, so you can find out more about them which is great.
There’s also an enhanced ebook version of INK available for iOS devices, in which the illustrations and cover come to life through animation. It’s a really great touch to a book about drawings coming alive, and I think it really adds to the experience of The Paper Gods series.
Your bio states that you speak several languages – which ones?
I love languages and I’ve studied quite a few, either on my own or by taking courses. I speak French and Japanese the most fluently. Then I understand Latin, Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphic, Ojibwe/Anishinaabemowin (First Nations language), Spanish, and a bit of Welsh. I hope to learn more Welsh and Korean next!
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given about writing?
Every word you write is getting you where you need to be. Don’t lose hope or be discouraged—it’s all leading somewhere. Just don’t stop writing. Keep going, and finish your stories. You’ll wander the forest forever if you don’t write your way back out. Sometimes writing is crawling a word at a time, and you’re covered in dirt and leaves and thorns, and you’re thirsty and tired. Sometimes writing hurts. It’s okay. That’s normal. Don’t be discouraged if your plot derails—sometimes it’s more exciting that way. Keep going, and your words won’t let you down.
What are your 3 must have items if you were to be stranded somewhere with only those items?
A stack of good books, my phone, and a giant pitcher of iced tea lemonade. Wait…you guys are coming back for me, right?…Right?
Slippers or socks? I actually prefer bare feet, especially in the summer. ^_^
Dogs or Cats? Birds! I have two, one with an awesome vocabulary that he uses in context. I love dogs too, but I’m allergic to cats.
Poutine or chips with vinegar? That’s a tough call. Being Canadian, I love both. ^_^ I think chips with malt vinegar wins out, but it’s a close call.
Anything else that you would like to share?
INK has an ebook novella prequel called SHADOW, which is currently free for download. It follows the events leading up to INK from both Katie and Tomo’s POVs. If you’re interested, please check my website AmandaSunBooks.com for info on how to download the novella. It can also be read on Wattpad for a limited time. Hope you enjoy it!
Thank you for taking the time to be my rockstar !
Thank you so much for having me on the blog! I think readers are rockstars too! 😀
Read on to see my review – and a larger copy of this gorgeous cover
Author: Amanda Sun
Format: Paperback and eBook
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Teen / YA Fantasy
Series: The Paper Gods, # 1
Best Read in Order: yes
Publication Date: 25 June, 2013
Purchase Now: Amazon § Barnes&Noble
About the Book:
I looked down at the paper, still touching the tip of my shoe. I reached for it, flipping the page over to look.
Scrawls of ink outlined a drawing of a girl lying on a bench.
A sick feeling started to twist in my stomach, like motion sickness.
And then the girl in the drawing turned her head, and her inky eyes glared straight into mine.
Ink is in their blood.
On the heels of a family tragedy, Katie Greene must move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.
When Katie meets aloof but gorgeous Tomohiro, the star of the school’s kendo team, she is intrigued by him…and a little scared. His tough attitude seems meant to keep her at a distance, and when they’re near each other, strange things happen. Pens explode. Ink drips from nowhere. And unless Katie is seeing things, drawings come to life.
Somehow Tomo is connected to the kami, powerful ancient beings who once ruled Japan—and as feelings develop between Katie and Tomo, things begin to spiral out of control. The wrong people are starting to ask questions, and if they discover the truth, no one will be safe.
Combining a stranger in a strange land, ancient mythology and oddly morphing sketches this was a book that was filled with action and description, all setting the stage for what will be an enthralling series.
Katie’s mother has recently died, and the will states that she is to live with her aunt in the city of Shizuoka Japan. Struggling with her loss, learning a new city and language, and being wholly gaijin in a city without many foreigners, Katie is lonely, depressed and understandably at odds with everything. Her first encounter with Yuu Tomohiro, the ‘boy with a reputation’, was less than stellar, and left Katie feeling as if she was seeing things: sketches that fell from his notebook were moving.
Despite the uneasiness, Katie needs to satisfy her curiosity and follows Tomo, demanding answers. From that point forward, the ink seems to take on a life of its own.
Katie is a wonderfully written and created character: there is a core of strength and resilience within her that shines through. Her character felt honest and real: her confusions were easy to understand and feel, and despite all of the changes she was still determined to move forward and onward.
Tomo was a little more difficult to like and appreciate, sending massively mixed messages throughout the story, it took a while for his true nature to shine through. Although Katie saw glimpses of the good boy beneath the veneer of cold-hearted slouching teen boy, for quite a while there she was the only one to see the worthwhile bits.
The Kami influence was an interesting and often scary paranormal / mythological element: weaving through the story, effects ranging from awe inspiring to deadly frightening, and there are still more questions left to answer as the story continues.
This was a highly entertaining book, Amanda Sun manages to imbue a sense of Japan through her descriptions and the often confusing, to a non-Japanese, customs and social conventions. There is a solid sense of understanding a bit more of Japan and her people, if only from one teenaged girl’s perspective than one would expect. Secondary characters are all developed with enough detail to give them solid voice and presence, although this story does really focus on Tomo and Katie and their interactions and adventures.
I received a galley copy from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions were my own responsibility.
See more from the author Amanda Sun by visiting her Website