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. ^_^
by Amanda Sun
"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."
On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is 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.
Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they’ll both be targets.
Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.
The Paper Gods series by Amanda Sun is coming!
In university I took English, Linguistics, and Asian History, before settling into Archaeology, because I loved learning about the cultures and stories of ancient people. Of course, I didn’t actually become an archaeologist—I have an intense fear of spiders. I prefer unearthing fascinating stories in the safety of my living room.
The Paper Gods is inspired by my time living in Osaka and travelling throughout Japan. That and watching far too many J-Dramas. I currently live in Toronto with my husband and daughter. When I’m not writing, I’m devouring YA books, knitting nerdy things like Companion Cubes and Triforce mitts, and making elaborate cosplays for anime cons.
There are 2 giveaways sponsored by Kismet Tours!
The first giveaway is to win one of 9 copies of the book!
The second (and Grand Prize) is an authentic Japanese Yukata (like the dress shown)!
Just fill out the rafflecopter form below to enter:
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Monday, May 27th ‚Supernatural Snark
Wednesday, May 29th ‚Page Turners
Friday, May 31st ‚ Reading Angel
Monday, June 3rd ‚ Alice Marvels
Wednesday, June 5th ‚ Chapter by Chapter
Friday, June 7th ‚ YA‚ As the Word by Katja
Monday, June 10th ‚ Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, June 12th ‚ Oh Chrys!
Friday, June 14th ‚ Books and Things
INK tour page: INK tour page