Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am a screenwriter and film-director and my co-author, Sho Kosugi, was a well-known actor and martial artists. This made our working together on a novel a very natural extension of we were doing in film. Sho was a native of Japan and I had lived there for almost 3 years, so it was easier to incorporate both our cultures into what we were writing. We both wanted to create a fictional work that would show a side of the Japanese culture that might surprise many non-Japanese readers. I love action-adventure and a good love story, so the Yin-Yang Code became an excellent writing vehicle for both of us.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
As we wrote the first book, the novel’s antagonist, Tenkai-Bo became extremely interesting and popular with many readers of the original who were providing us important feedback. They wanted more of the “villain” and some closure to the love-relationship developing between two of the books lead characters. The readers convinced us that a second book should be written but there was also another reason. In the first book, Yin-Yang Code: Drums of Tenkai-Bo, the location settings were in lands foreign to many of our English and Spanish readers. There had also been a matter of the historical context of the novel that began in the early 800s BC, continuing through until the present day. Having established this in the first book, my co-writer, Sho Kosugi and I, wanted to devote more time and space to the evolving adventure which was careening out of control at the end of the first book.
Penning a sequel is often tricky, most fans of the original work want things to go a certain way, and when they don't they tend to get upset. Did you have any reservations about penning a second part to the book?
Sequels often fail, so Sho and I had great trepidation about writing one. Both of us come out of the motion picture industry and so we were aware of the pitfalls. The biggest being that sequels are often a retelling of the original work. We were very determined that this would not happen in our sequel and it didn’t.
I wanted the question raised in book one to be a propellant for book two and I think we have succeeded if our early reviews are accurate.
I’ve always believed that a good hero is shaped by an even greater anti-hero. Jim Hawkins had Long John Silver, David Copperfield had Mr. Murdstone, and Sherlock Holmes had his Professor Moriarty There are numerous instances in literature and film, where the villain becomes as popular as the work itself. William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist, is a case in point. The antagonist was Satan, and Blatty held the books readers and subsequent film-goers in continuing suspense throughout, not to mention dread. Of course, most are familiar with the success of Darth Vader in the multiple Star Wars’ adventures. My personal preference has always been to develop a complicated antagonist first, one who has an even more complex end-goal and then to throw the hero and/or heroine into the midst of the turmoil created by the heavy.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I always go to bed at night, thinking about what I will write the following day. In my mind, I develop “film images” of what I hope to see on paper. The following morning after a ritual of twin mugs of strong coffee, I begin the chapter. As with screenwriting, it’s important to me to first get my thoughts and story down on paper. Later, I will return and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Naipaul’s, A Bend in the River, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, and John’s Grisham’s, The Firm and The Chamber.
Charles Dickens, Ken Follett, A. S. Byatt, Harper Lee, and Victor Hugo.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
The most important thing for a writer to do is write. When a book, screenplay, or article is sent off for publication consideration, don’t stop writing. Continue to write even if you get a rejection slip. If you believe your writing to be good, consider what the rejection comments may be, see if they have value to you, and then forget them and continue on.
Secondly, the most important facet of writing is rewriting what you have written. Never fall in love with the words that you write so much that you are unable to cut. A motion picture is made better by editing and post production. The same is true for writing. The writer is the first editor and the work should pass their muster before being passed on to knowledgeable others. Always heed what your publisher’s editor has to say. They may not be writers, per se, but they have experience in what sells and what doesn’t. When they make suggestions, listen.
Thirdly, never let “ego” take over your writing. A writer must have a strong ego to withstand rejections, a norm of the business, but never so much so that you lose reality in what you are writing. Never try to argue an editor off a point as a mode of self-defense. Listen to their input and thank them for it. Afterwards you can decide whether it is of value to you or not.
Finally, be nice. Mistakes happen and you will make your share. So, will your editors, publisher, printer and best associates. As an aspiring writer, your career is just beginning and you are starting the climb upward. It will have peaks and valleys, ups and downs and the people you are nice to on the way up will still be there. Those you are nasty to are also there on the way down. Over a lifetime of writing, you will be shocked at those who can help you or hurt you and often both come from areas of life where you least expect it.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I thought about a third book and Sho and I gave some thought to it on several occasions. In books one and two, we intentionally created several very strong characters in the book that could stand on their own. There are of course, the UCLA students whose lives are upturned by events beyond their control and there is Tenkai-Bo, the books’ anti-hero. Either could have their own sequel. The same is true for Captain Sato, a Japanese detective from both novels who is quite clever and who could also stand on his own. Also, I don’t want to neglect the hero’s grandfather.
We have many sequel directions that Sho and I can go it, if we decide to do a third book. It’s just that we haven’t made that decision, yet.
What is your favorite book of all time?
My favorite book is Charles Dicken’s, David Copperfield.
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