Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas!

I was too stuffed yesterday to write a word so merry Christmas everyone! I truly hope you all got exactly what you wanted. All the best!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Fight like Jason Bourne?

When I set about writing the action scenes for The Gatekeeper's Son, I already knew the fighting style I wanted for Junya. I'd seen The Matrix, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and a whole bunch of other movies which feature elaborate Kung Fu fight scenes. They're fun to watch but are all rather ineffective as far as ending a fight fast. Enter Jason Bourne. In the first installment of the movie series, what impressed me the most was his brutal yet economical fighting style. And it was extremely realistic. When he fights the three guards in the US Embassy, that is a brilliant fight scene, using from what I can see, the Israeli fighting system Krav Maga. Another great fight was the one shown in the clip below. I think that has got to be one of the best movie fights I've ever seen! So, that's the way I wanted Junya (and Shoko) to fight. Fast, brutal, get it done and move along. I don't think long fight scenes play well in a book anyhow. But if the Gatekeeper's Son ever makes it to the Big Screen, I will insist that the fights scenes are choreographed like Jason's.        

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A street in Japan.

When I first visited Japan, it was little things that surprised me, like a street with shops and restaurants. At home, that means a straight row of buildings of different sizes, plate glass windows, maybe trees lining the sidewalks and a bunch of parked cars. A shop in japan is often at the front of the owner's house and they'll hustle in from a back room hidden behind a curtain to serve you. Often both the house and the store have been owned by the family for generations. Streets and shops like this are all over Japan. Of course, like in America, this way of life is being threatened by big box stores. 

Cool street scene pictures below. Very fun to find places to eat or drink. I need to add a scene like this in GKS2!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Shrine of love?

Ōkuninushi (Ōkuninushi-no-mikoto), famous as the Shinto deity of marriage is also known as  'En-musubi', the creator and arranger of relationships. The relationships are not simply those that bind men and women together in marriage. They are also the relationships that help us grow into respectable adults, create a bright and exciting society. Bring all things happiness and good fortune a create a feeling of brotherhood between us all.' (Taken from A Guide to Izumo Oyashiro). No wonder Junya and Shoko fall in love (Maybe) Stayed tuned for book 2.

Ōkuninushi-deity of marriage

Junya's Father? Can you tell me his name?

I'm getting a lot of people saying, "What's the deal with Junya's dad?" Well, it's true that he didn't show up very often in book one. He really didn't have a role other than showing that Misako (Okaasan) had a husband and Junya a dad. And when he did show up, he wasn't a strong character either. He was, and is, a quiet man who had his share of bad experiences and just wants a quiet life. However, he plays a larger role in book 2 where he will be an important role model for Junya and I hope, that will satisfy you readers! I do like him, after all, he's a woodworker and likes heritage renovations, just like me.

Friday, December 12, 2014

More on the ancient Izumo Shrine

If you remember, after Junya's nightmare, he described the Izumo Shrine as have massive posts: 3 huge trees, tied together and painted red. 'According to the Kuchizusami, a book written in 950 AD. the main structure reached 48 meters, topping the 45 Meter height of the Great Buddha Hall of Nara's Todai-ji Temple and making it the tallest building in all of Japan.'  The first records of the Izumo shrine date to 710 AD. Below are pictures of what archaeologists excavated at the site and a model of what they believed the posts looked like based on old records. The posts they found were three cedar trees with a three-meter (about 10 feet) diameter at its base. As I've said in interviews, with visuals like these, it's pretty easy to create the land of Izumo where Shoko and the Gatekeepers guard the home of the gods. 
Another look at the posts excavated at the shrine site as well as more documentation of the probable layout of the shrine. 
There the posts stood

Model of the posts as they may have looked 1000 years ago

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Izumo-Taisha Shinto shrine

One of the main locations featured in The Gatekeeper's Son is the great Izumo-Taisha shrine. It's considered one of the most important shrines in Japan and has a history going back a thousand years. The general area around the shrine is full of artifacts and archeological sites dating from the bronze age and reinforce how old the area truly is.
Izumo Taisha present day

Izumo-Taisha a 1000 years ago

On my many many visits to the Izumo shrine, it was easy to imagine what it would've been like back then because really, it hasn't changed much, other than its height off the ground. The theory that it once stood 40 meters high was reinforced when the remains of huge posts were found buried at the site. So, on the Other Side where the Gatekeeper's guard the gods, I made the shrine in the style it was once believed to be. That was, and is, a fun part of creating Shoko's world.  

Model of Izumo as it may have once looked
A Miko (Shrine maiden) kneeling near the remains of huge posts

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A different storyboard idea

I'm always on the lookout for ways to keep plot and storyline organized, especially since I have a terrible memory. I came across this one used by Joseph Heller while writing his famous novel, Catch 22. There is the expected vertical list of scenes/chapters on the left but what is really interesting is what he does across the top. In case you can't see it, Heller has a column for each character so in every scene listed on the left, he could plot and see what each character was doing (or not doing). Personally, I think it's brilliant and my version was really easy to make as a table in Word. For the Gatekeeper's Son II, I've given Junya three columns because, as a first-person POV, he has the most going on. I can refer back to it as I write and if I have a quick thought, I can add it easily for later reference. Cool eh?     

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Weekend in Whistler

I took my son to Whistler for an overnight stay. It was to celebrate his 18th birthday. Now I know being 18 means you still can't drink or vote but for me, it is the gateway to manhood. We didn't ski, the mountain just opened and the snow was sketchy, but we did ride the gondola to the top. Besides that, we mostly chilled and did a lot of talking. I think it brought us closer together at a critical time in his life. It's time to relate to him as a man and not my boy. I wish my dad had done this, which was one of the major reasons I made sure I did it.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The day my first copy arrived

This is from October 1, 2014 when the first copy of my finished book arrived. As you can see, I was very pleased with it. After all the years of hard work, I had it in my hands!

My new palm tree!

Here's my latest victim. I have to admit that I am a serial palm tree killer. My last one, which looked this good when I bought it, was dead down to its last stubby brown branch in 5 months. Apparently I drowned it. Usually I kill them by forgetting to water them. Is there no way to keep these things alive and thriving? I'll keep you posted.