Today marks my fifteenth year in Japan; the Tokyo anniversary is tomorrow, as I initially arrived in Osaka and stayed overnight there. Who would’ve figured this on July 26, 2001, when I left Melbourne deathly early in the a.m. — and my plan for Japan was just six months?
Since we’re talking up Japan, I want to briefly slip back into the territory of second novel One Hundred Years of Vicissitude (2012), which was my homage to the recent century of Japanese history, and the incredible culture and people here — mostly written straight after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
I’m currently re-reading the thing, and I do believe it’s one of the better books I’ve written. Which isn’t saying much since I’m thoroughly biased and unworthy to critique my own work — yet still.
There was a remarkable image by photographer Jodi Cobb (above) that was one of the key visual influences during the developmental stage of One Hundred Years of Vicissitude — especially identical twin geisha Kohana and Tomeko; at one stage I talked with Jodi and National Geographic about using it for the cover, but the costs were prohibitive, and I’d by then discovered Julian Hebbrect‘s stunning picture (see right).
Still, I do look at this picture now and seem them together.
Another major influence on the novel was Satoshi Kon‘s 2001 film Millennium Actress — which to my mind is one of the greatest pieces of anime cinema. If you haven’t seen it yet, you must.
I love the representation of central character Chiyoko Fujiwara, who’s loosely based on past real-life actresses Setsuko Hara, Hibari Misora and Hideko Takamine.
The animation, design and story are innovative and mesmerizing, while the score by regular Kon composer Susumu Hirasawa remains his most memorable.
Anyway, without these things One Hundred Years of Vicissitude would not exist in the form it is, and the paperback version is selling on Amazon these days for just $7.58.
Otherwise, yesterday I received author copies of my seventh novel — Bullet Gal.
See the happy-snap below. I think it looks bloody beautiful. Hats off to Dominic, Maria, Stuart, Nick, and the rest of the JHP Fiction team.
This is not out until November via Roundfire Books, although pre-order is now available @ Amazon.
Oh, and Bullet Gal is the stand-alone prequel to my earlier novel Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? — which actually came out in sequence after One Hundred Years of Vicissitude in 2013.
It’s a 474-page tome, the longest I’ve written, with 35 illustrations. This is an homage to golden and silver age comic books, along with noir, pulp, and science fiction. Think major influences being Jack Kirby, art deco, and Raymond Chandler.
This is the original (discarded) front cover design for Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? by Mexican artist Rodolfo Reyes; a faded-out version was used on the back. Why?
Because the replacement image worked even better, I think, once all the text was laid atop. This original works best untarnished.
Now to go and have some saké to celebrate the big 15! 😉