Tuesday, April 3, 2012

All Things Asian: Jay Kristoff

Welcome to our All Things Asian event! Visiting today is the hilarious and awesome Jay Kristoff, author of  the upcoming novel Stormdancer, the first in his The Lotus War trilogy!
Jay Kristoff has managed to trick the world into thinking he's an author. His debut novel, STORMDANCER, billed as a dystopian Japanese-inspired Steampunk Fantasy, will be released Spring 2012 through St Martin's/Tor UK.
What made you choose to write the genre you do?
I’ve always loved fantasy. Ever since I read the Hobbit as a nine-year-old. I’m just a huge nerd like that. And I really liked Steampunk as a genre, but I felt like it was way too Euro-centric. Everything was set in Britain or maybe colonial America. And at the close of the 19th century, the world had some AMAZING cultures. I’ve always loved the samurai age of Japan, so I thought ‘why not set a Steampunk book in a Japanese-inspired civilization?”

And here we are :)
Young adult fiction often features protagonists' awkward moments. What are some of the most awkward moments of your teenage years?
Lol, you really wanna go there?

Hmm, let’s see. Probably the single most awkward moment of my teenaged years, and possibly still one of the most hideous moments of my entire life, was when my girlfriend’s father caught us being… intimate. OMFG. Seriously, it was just deeeeeeath. If I could have summoned the power of Hades and have the earth swallow me whole at that moment, I would have.

He was a big dude, too. Kinda scary.

(obviously he did not kill me)
What are some of your oddest writing habits?
I read aloud to my dog. He’s an awesome listener.
What is a completely random fact about yourself?
Well, everyone tells me I look like Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters :P
What advice would you give to another writer?
There are no rules other than ‘write it well’. Nothing else matters. If you write it well, people will wanna read it. Everything comes from the words.

And believe in yourself. Because for a long time, it will feel like not many people do.
What are some of your favorite books with Asian characters?
Katsuhiro Otomo’s AKIRA is one of my favourite comic books of all time. I loved Lian Hearne’s TALES OF THE OTORI. Neal Stephenson’s SNOW CRASH featured a half-Japanese MC called ‘Hiro Protagonist’, and he still ranks up there as one of my favorite MC’s ever. I also recently read a history of 16th century Japan called TAIKO, which absolutely kicked ass.
Do you enjoy anime or manga? If so which ones?
Manga and anime have been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up watching shows like Astroboy, Marineboy, Starblazers/Yamato, Robotech, Gatchaman and lurrrrved them like a fat kid lurrrves cake. God, there’s so many. Akira. Ghost in the Shell. Ninja Scroll. Gundam. Appleseed. Battle Angel Alita. Domu. Katsuhiro Otomo is GOD as far as I’m concerned (well, he was until I found out they’re setting the AKIRA movie in Neo-Manhattan, and Tetsuo and Kaneda are both going to be WHITE). I’m watching Avatar; The Last Airbender atm, and am simply blown away by how awesome it is.

I still bust out my AKIRA comics and re-read them every couple of years. In STORMDANCER, I actually named the Shōgun’s father ‘Kaneda’ as a bit of a tribute to my favourite manga of all time :)
Do you think there needs to be more diversity in young adult fiction?
Oh, helllllls yes. Not just in terms of race either, but in terms of religion, politics, sexuality, everything. We as a species are more diverse, in every sense, than we’ve ever been. Our art should reflect that. If you could somehow channel the frustration I feel when I hear about book-covers or movie projects being ‘white-washed’, my rage could power a small African nation for a year. And I’m a WHITE dude. I can’t imagine the frustration that must be felt by people who belong to the culture being white-washed.

The power of one person to make a positive change in the world is a real theme in STORMDANCER, and I truly believe in that principle.

Conservatism is a disease. But you are the cure. Raise your voice. Speak out. Stand up. Be counted.
Thank you so much for sharing, Jay! To learn more about Jay Kristoff and Stormdancer, stalk him on his blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
All Things Asian
To follow the rest of the event, go to our All Things Asian event page for all the posts and giveaways! Click HERE to see more awesomeness. (And no, you don't have to be Asian to participate!)

And don't forget to check out That Hapa Chick and My Words Ate Me today for more posts!


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