Friday, June 14, 2013

Ink Blog Tour and Amanda Sun Blog Post

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. ^_^

Ink (Paper Gods #1)
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!

About Amanda Sun - website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

I’m a YA author and proud Nerdfighter. I was born in Deep River, Canada, a very small town without traffic lights or buses, and where stranger safety is comprised of what to do if you see a bear—or skunk. I started reading fantasy novels at 4 and writing as soon as I could hold a pencil. Hopefully my work’s improved since then.

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:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tour Schedule:
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
Kismet Book Touring


  1. I've been seeing this one around a lot lately. Very interested. Thanks for the post.

  2. I just love books that grow from personal experience, there's really nothing like it. And clearly free beer is the best thing about ANY place, Japan included. So it wasn't that big of a mistake, in my humble opinion. Not that I drink beer. *whistles innocently*
    I absolutely love this post and can't wait f0r my copy to arrive. Run, mailman, run!

  3. Drat, Nephew managed to press keyboard, I don't know what he's done but Rafflecopter has gone mad.

    Hearing lots of good things about this book, thanks for a great giveaway which (laughs) I'm not sure I'm entered for or not. Good luck everyone.

  4. I think this is just too cool and I would love to learn another language proficiently. Besides, is free beer a bad thing to say? I think it would have made you a lot of friends. LOL

  5. I do not have much to say today it seems...yup *wind blowing in the trees*

  6. Great book cover and interesting plot!

  7. Hahaha oops! I guess it could have been worse. Them thinking you want free beer isn't as awful as saying something dirty which is most likely what I would inadvertently do for sure. Japanese would be such a tricky language to learn, I'm envious of anyone with the dedication to do so!

  8. Thanks for the giveaway and great post!

  9. Awesome cant wait. Really want to read this one**

  10. Had fun on this tour. Can't wait to read this book!

  11. I love this post, Melissa, so thanks for sharing. Though I've heard mixed reactions to this one, I'm planning to give it a try soon for sure! :D

  12. Free beer! That's hilarious! I am not talented at foreign languages, and if I ever traveled to a Spanish speaking country (the language I studied in high school/college) I'm sure I would do something just as horrifying.


  13. I cant wait to read this book! thanks for the giveaway!!!

  14. Thanks for the cool giveaway! This book sounds really cool and I can't wait to get my hands on it. :)

  15. I can relate, I went to Germany at 16 and the language thing is very intimidating especially when you are trying to communicate with the elderly. I didn't have a free beer experience though!

  16. Hahaha I remember so many embarassing moments and funny language problems I had when I lived in Taiwan as a exchange student! The word for gift is very similar to the fruit called "Waxed Apple" in Taiwan. So once I bought a cake for my host family and I went to tell my host mom I had a gift for her and I thought I kept say "I have a gift for you" but really I was saying "I have waxed apples for you". <She couldn't understand why I was so happy about fruit.

    1. Hahaha that's a great story! Thanks for sharing. Good to know I'm not the only one embarrassing myself in other countries ;D *high five*

  17. Free funny! Thank for the giveaway, I am looking forward to reading this!

  18. LOL! Actually, I *would* look forward to free beer. However, you can get that anywhere. How cool you got to travel over there! That must definitely have added to the reading of the story.

  19. That would be SO cool to get to travel to Japan (or anywhere really) while in high school (or even college). I wish I had had that opportunity. My aunt lived in Japan when I was young and my grandparents had lived there for several years before. So we had lots of Japanese influence, like the foods we ate when with any of them and the gifts they gave us. It was fascinating to me as a child (well, even now as an adult). I'm really excited to read this one!

  20. I am super excited for this book!! It sounds amazing and I love the cover!!!!

  21. Thanks for the awesome giveaway. I would love to read this book. It sounds very good.

  22. Free beer! Haha. That sounds like something that I would do. Except my mispronunciation would probably be even more embarrassing! I am SO looking forward to this story. Thank you, Books and Things, for participating in the Tour!

  23. Love that she asked for free beer! I'm sure I would make more embarrassing language snafus if I were set loose on a foreign country with my awful pronunciation. I'd still love to visit Japan though, especially after reading this! :-)

  24. I got Ink at BEA a few weeks ago and it's nice to get a little background tot he story first. Great post.

  25. thanks for the nice post, I'm curious about this book.

  26. Love this book!! And I can totally empathize with the language issues...having the same experience with Korean. But time does make it better ^^

  27. Free Beer. Hmm when I went to Mexico I made sure to know how to order beer in Spanish. I think it's a good thing to know! It's a good story!

    Great way to make it believable for Katie to know Japanese. Glad you went to Japan so you could really make Ink feel authentic. Can't wait to read it!!


  28. My niece got to spend 2 months in Japan when she was 15 and the first week was so hard. She didn't speak a word of the language (it was a last minute trip)and the food was so out of her comfort zone. By the end of the second month, she hated leaving and didn't want to come home yet.


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