We fell in love with exotic romance INK, so we were thrilled to chat with author Amanda Sun!
INK takes place in a totally different world than we’ve ever seen! Can you give our readers a quick introduction to the book?
Sure! INK follows Katie as she moves to Shizuoka, Japan, to live with her English-teaching aunt. There she crosses paths with her new school’s kendo star, Tomohiro, whose drawings come to life in dangerous ways. When the wrong people discover Tomo’s abilities and Katie’s effect on the ink, the pair find themselves on the run from the yakuza and the Japanese paranormal underworld.
INK draws on Japanese mythology and history, and it’s a lot of fun to have it set in Japan, where I used to live in high school. I like having the backdrop story of what life is like for teens there, from school life to the culture to the food.
Ink drawings that come to life? What is it about Tomohiro’s character that called to you to make him an artist?
I always saw Tomohiro as someone who was trapped by circumstance. He feels very alone in the world because of his secrets. He never asked for the ability to make drawings come to life. I mean, it sounds like a fantastic power—but the drawings have a will of their own, and a sinister one. Sketching allows Tomohiro to express himself—it’s one source of freedom he has to show how he sees the world. But because the drawings are so dangerous, he has to find somewhere safe to draw where he won’t hurt anyone else.
I’ve always thought that with each of Tomohiro’s drawings, he’s hoping that maybe this time it will stay contained, so they are both a source of danger and of hope.
How did your time as an exchange student in Japan influence your writing?
I lived in Osaka in high school, and it changed everything for me. I wanted to make this country I love accessible to others, and I’m able to do that through INK. Many of the experiences Katie has in the book are tied to things I experienced, although usually indirectly. For example, I never left my slippers on outside like Katie did, but I did visit Itsukushima Shrine and look for wild monkeys on the mountaintop. A lot of the foods Katie tries are things I ate in Japan, as well.
I think experiencing Japanese culture firsthand really helped me imagine what sort of life Katie would have there—how she would react to Japanese life, and how her Japanese friends would react to her.
Can you describe Katie with three adjectives?
Ambitious, headstrong, thoughtful
Tortured, brave, good-hearted
Who did you write first, Katie or Tomo?
Both, sort of. Katie moved to INK from a previous story, although she changed shaped a lot and evolved from that earlier work. But it was Tomo I saw first, sketching in his field. He was the first glimpse I had of what INK was going to become.
We’ve heard of Greek and Roman mythology but knew nothing about the Kami! Which Kami is your favorite and why?
I was lucky enough to get an unusual mythology book as a gift from my mum when I was little. It introduced me to the kami and some of the original Japanese stories. I think my favorite kami is Amaterasu, the spirit of the sun. She seems so radiant and benevolent, and she loves horses and weaving, so we have some things in common! She’s dangerous, though, as all ancient kami are. But I’d probably stand the best chance of staying alive being friends with her.
If INK were a drawing what would it look like?
Well, I think it’s been captured really beautifully on the cover! It’s a mix of the Japanese calligraphy style of the ink and wash paintings that Tomohiro so loves. In those kinds of paintings, no stroke can be undone, and each one must be made deliberately and with confidence. If mistakes are made, you must think of a way to incorporate them beautifully. I think a lot of that speaks to life, which is why these ideas are at the core of INK.
And just like the cover, I love the mix with the watercolor style. The art is beautiful but ominous at the same time, just like the ink in The Paper Gods.
OK, time for five quick questions!
Casting time! Katie, Tomo, Jun, Yuki…who would you pick?
For Katie, I think maybe Bonnie Wright or Emma Stone.
Tomohiro — Okada Masaki, Oguri Shun, or Satou Takeru.
Jun — Miura Haruma or Matsumoto Jun
Yuki — Shida Mirai
Most of these are actors in Japan. I’d like to see some fresh new Asian faces in Hollywood!
Tomo or Jun?
What a difficult question! Tomo…but I think Jun is very misunderstood and needs some love, too.
Favorite star-crossed lovers?
Vincent and Catherine from the Beauty and the Beast TV show back in the 80’s
Favorite scene or line from INK?
I really love the butterfly scene and the wind chime scene. I found them both very cinematic to write, and you can see all the paper butterflies floating around, and hear the chimes in the trees. They both put me into the heart of the Paper Gods world.
Gaming or anime?
Currently gaming, because I love being personally involved in the storyline. 🙂