(This page is under construction.)
She tells me that my skin smells like coffee. I tell her it’s what happens after a few months of the same thing. Sometimes it’s necessary, I say. At least I don’t smell like a chain smoker. She looks away and plays with a pencil. If it’s a bother to you, I say, I can put on cologne or something. She admits she likes the aroma of coffee. But coffee and sweat is a little strange at times. Then she laughs. The sound is feeble before the darkness swallows it, like heavy smog on a summer day.
To someone like her, or anyone sane, living like this isn’t living at all. But a dark room, or perhaps physical blindness, opens the eyes of the soul. That is what I believe. It’s months since I’ve withdrawn from the “world”, but to me, the world I reside in is much more fascinating than what lies outside my doorstep. She still comes to visit, bringing in with her a light fragrance of rose and lavender, maybe a few petals of cherry blossoms in April, maybe the scent of rain and wet grass, maybe the hint of alcohol in her breath. Outside, I might hear the sound of a Saint-saens or Chopin playing from the radio I leave on. On summer days, some Abba or Bob Dylan. Every time she walks in, with her the taste of an old life, it’s like a jolt through my body, wrenching my spirit from a distant land where there is no anchor, no gender, no construct.
When someone asks why I write, I tell them that I have no choice. Sometimes it’s conscription and other times, imprisonment. In either case, it is warfare. I am called to march into another realm – most of the time, alone and reluctant – but I do so anyway. There isn’t a choice, because I don’t belong in the world that she belongs in. I exist on the vertical axis; I am called to transcend the concrete matters of history and politics, events and people, construct and subjectivity, experience and emotion, system and structure, into a world where abstraction and spontaneity of imagination and romance reign, a world of eternal philosophies and myths, interconnection between all that humankind has accumulated through the millennia, all of which are no longer contained within clear order or rules, where colours whirl and spin around like dancing cartoons on Saturday mornings and palpitate like a Pollock in ecstatic merciless orchestration of a grand symphony of human consciousness composed of ideas, thoughts, memories, archetypes and hidden themes and sharp insight and wise old sages; it all converges into a myriad of particles, and light shines through these particles. This is a world where there is no up and down, no left and right, no right direction. Being called to walk in this world, takes tremendous energy, but it is a noble task and a privilege.
When I am compelled to write, my hands tremble, my mind ricochets with automatic gunfire and my heart bloats with unbearable intensity, threatening to detonate if there is no release. But even when I’m not filled with the Muses, still, I heed the call and sit down and force myself to. Lock myself away from the world with a cup of coffee and begin to transcend to the realm of ancient imagination. There are not many who have access to this world above, and if I do not make use of every moment, what will my purpose in life be?
Those who are called to walk in pace with the eternal spirits, have a purpose. It is to show this otherworld to those who cannot perceive it. It is to create a bridge and merge both worlds together. Those who read will catch a glimpse of the wonder, heights and the depths and the infinite horizons of such a realm. It will resonate deep in the soul. We reveal truth behind the horizontal plane, the prophetic meaning behind symbols, the truth and lies behind monumental history, the conspiracies and secrets behind the system, the human condition behind the storm of emotions and conflict, the ebb and flow of the universe, the darkness and the light of life itself. We unlock minds so that they too can live a little more.
If someone asks, “why must you write?” my response is that my heart aches for those who are lost, hurt and broken; those who are blind and see no future; those who have fallen into the clutches of the tyranny of the system; those who are drained everyday of individuality, life and hope; those who can love no more and fight no more. To those, I must extend a hand, send a letter and open a window, however large or small. I have a conviction that I must provide what I’ve come to see and understand, share how I’ve grown, how my mind has matured, the philosophies and visions I’ve developed and received, a worldview on society, human life and the system around that decays. I wish to at least help my readers, one at a time, towards new perception, a new consciousness, one that will give and breathe life.
Author Introduction and Writing Profile
I’m somewhat of a contemporary mystic when it comes to literature or writing or perhaps the other arts I’m involved in: music and visual arts. I am influenced hugely by Haruki Murakami and all his magical-realistic or surrealistic philosophical strangeness, as well as names like Kafka, Hemingway, Orwell, DeLillo, Carver and the ideas of Jung, Freud, Baudrillard, Berkeley, Hegel, Emerson and Marx. But moreover, I kind of follow the traditions of the “visionaries” such as Dante, Rumi, Rimbaud, Whitman, Blake, or even Kerouac, Dickinson and so on, the idea of the greater Collective mind, the divine imagination, ancient wisdom or the transcendental unconsciousness, the universal intelligence of all humankind, which can be seen or understood in a variety of forms, whether people tend to look at it spiritually or religiously, as a historical and archetypal psychology, as the intertextual cross-pollenation of all myths, literature, beliefs and so on, or just as a moment of solitude and reflective silence in nature, maybe as creative energy or inspiration – all of this, also a major concept in my novel.
That said, my writing process will be something like self-discovery or self-rediscovery: I make sure I am clear of who I am, what my core values and beliefs are. What are my current thoughts and insights of the world and society around. Afterwards, perhaps a lot of conscious planning for the basic concept, the philosophies I will adhere to and the messages I want to convey, as well as the history, economy, politics, the concrete physical details of the context, and sometimes just a little bit of plot planning. But otherwise, as a crazy “contemporary mystic” I would sit down and tap into my subconscious, call on the Muses so to speak, bridge my subconscious and unconsciousness to a greater wisdom that is beyond me, make myself like an empty vessel or channel from which words will flow. It is often that I always feel this metaphysical connection that is beyond words, so I tend to be able to write anywhere and at any time, silence or music, as long as I focus and sink deep within. I do become influenced of course by my surroundings or what I’ve been reading or listening to, but for the most part, it doesn’t matter. I adhered to a schedule of at least 2000 words a day to finish my novel and didn’t sway from it. It is something like a meditative state but it is not necessarily religious or magical or anything at all – it’s something I believe all human beings are already connected to, just that we’re too busy or occupied with physical reality to tap into it.
That said, I think my work has several layers and on the superficial layer, there is a clear plot and lots of action or character tension/chemistry, but there are just many things that I don’t really control consciously and readers would point out many symbols or ideas and interpretations that I never realized were actually there. (For example, many writers will say their characters come to life and lead the story onwards; that happens to me at a very intense and overwhelming extent.)
I think I try to convey several messages in most of my work. One is to become the bridge for readers to look at the whole world or life as a whole, and reach into that “higher consciousness” (bear with me). Reach a realization about the flow of the universe or the entire world, and that we are limited human beings, especially in our day and age in an immense powerful system and complex cultural landscapes. There are many things we don’t understand, or cannot understand and is entirely beyond us. Yet at the same time, I aspire to inspire and encourage people in their journeys in life, so the idea that though we are infinitesimal, in our own small spheres we can strive to make our mark, leave our legacy no matter what suffering we may encounter and become a part of this bigger picture. And that life is never static and hope continues on. In my novel, it ends off with the imagery of the galaxy, each star may not be visible but they all contribute to the glow and the current of the massive Milky Way. Readers may also hear of my psychological stances, like that of Freud’s Super-Ego, Ego and Id. That our intellect controls the primitive emotional desires, and we need to balance it out in order to lead coherent lives of potential. I also tend to convey the idea that love means much more than just romance or lust, that there is a greater metaphysical deep, possibly spiritual, connections between people, in a form of agape unconditional love. Along that note, I follow the ideas of Plato/Socrates that the more abstract intellectual complementary connections between people (i.e. beliefs, values, ideas, goals, existential purpose, etc) are the strongest form, as emotions and desire and even personality tend to fluctuate, some day to day, some over years. But readers often will have their own understandings of my work that sometimes blows my mind, so this was just my attempt at putting down a finger on what it is that a reader may get from my work.
Now if I were to give advice to writers, it would be to truly know yourself as best as you can. Though we are all shifting, transforming and growing minds and individuals, it is necessary to continually discover and rediscover ourselves. What are the core values, core beliefs, what is that major message you would deliver to the world before you die? What is our purpose for being here on Earth? There are many major existential questions like that, which for me, I have my answers to them already. I think that will definitely aid in the writing process but also just life in general. What are we about? Our writing will gain power, gain passion, gain strength, gain focus and impact, and sharpen into a sword that pierces into the reader’s heart. We are in the business of inspiration. We are in the business of transforming lives and helping people grow. Literature is amazingly powerful. We don’t need schools if we can read and read a lot. Also, read a lot. That always helps. Build up a massive pool of influences, ideas, understandings about everything, the world, life, politics, history, economy, styles, how other writers write, etc. Everything helps because literature reflects every aspect of life and humanity. Fantasy, fanfiction, literary fiction, non-fiction, they all contain parts of the human soul and the questions of our existence. Northrop Frye, as a Structuralist, looked for the underlying patterns in literature. What is that one question, one theme that prevails in all work? It is the question of Who Am I? Identity in the world that we live in. There is not a single piece of work no matter how many students tried who could disprove him. If we ourselves have an answer to that question or have an attempt or approach at the question, I think we are on the way to writing well.
From @WattypadMag initiative
Michiko: What is it about writing that you love?
Taka: What a question! First of all, I think I have to begin with the arts in general. I am involved in essentially all the arts, as an illustrator, graphic designer, musician and so on, aside from writing. I believe the arts is about communication, without it, the world will not be able to transmit ideas and furthermore, to transcend the realm of this physical, concrete, often soul-draining society and its expectations and constructs. I see it this way, human beings are created to have soul, heart, mind, imagination and creativity. These things are beyond the mundane dailies, or even beyond materialistic, financial, academic responsibilities and ambitions, or physical necessities. Take Maslow’s hierarchy or pyramid of needs for example, self-actualization at the very top, and I’d make a case to add one more level on top of that, which would be transcendence… I firmly believe that without the arts, we would not be able to engage that high level of thinking and imagination.
The arts, beyond the engaging of our minds, it actually is interconnected with everything past or future. There is no such thing as purely original art, and therefore, each work will actually draw influences, consciously or unknowingly from existing pieces or experiences that the creator has absorbed. Many scholars would argue that the foundations of all Western literature comes from two sources, the Ancient Greeks and the Bible, and onwards from those building blocks, come Dante, Milton, and Shakespeare – you probably get the picture, from Shakespeare things continue to build in weblike intricacies. Eventually we can find fragments and glimpses of these things in all the present work, especially in those who have studied literature. This is the case with music, for example: African tribal music, moving into the Blues, which inspires rock, which inspires punk, classical which inspires metal, and onwards – my music history is nowhere near well learned enough though. There are probably traces of the Beatles in so many bands and artists.
Anyway, now back to writing, why I enjoy writing is the ability to exist in this realm of transcendence, both away from the physical world into the abstract planes of philosophy, imagination, creativity and also the ability to tap into this “collective” pool of all past artistic work, which no doubt carries history, all human wisdom and understanding available. It’s a mystical experience. However, many may not be able to catch a glimpse of this world, especially nowadays with the abundance of immediate technology and constant gratification of the senses, so it is a duty for me, and I think, all artists, to create a bridge into this realm. This bridge can be summarized in my opinion as the channel and communication from heart to heart, soul to soul, intellect to intellect. This is a huge privilege, and one that exhilarates me and makes me realize I am part of a big picture.
Michiko: What inspires you to write?
Taka: At first, when I was younger, what inspired me to write was experiencing life and feeling the beauty of life around me. Sometimes it’s hard to see this when I focus on people or social issues, however, when I sit down under a tree overlooking some vast field, or looking up at the startlingly blue sky, breathing in the fragrance of spring and the blossoming of sakura, the first lazy snowfall adrift, the nostalgic melancholic realization that it is Christmas again, there are so many beautiful moments in the world. These are capitalized and reflected in artistic work, sometimes to an even more heightened degree when well expressed. It would carry to me a great current of strength, courage, dreams, because there are more of these moments ahead. So I would draw from great literature, anime, movies, music and onwards that carry this kind of spirit. And as such, I wanted to create my own version of it and give my readers that same kind of emotions.
On the other hand, answering the first question should give a glimpse of the kind of passion I draw from being part of this big picture, but more specifically what inspires me to write nowadays are really the readers. Being in this “business of inspiration”, having an audience is important. It isn’t a one way communication, it is communication between two people, the writer and the reader, and also a two-way communication. It is really inspiring in return to realize that wow, I’ve really inspired someone else. Some readers will even say that I’ve changed their life, that my work has encouraged them to become a better person. That it had saved them from depression or given them more confidence and courage. That it had made them stop and think deeply about their life and the world around, see things a little differently from before they started reading my work. And that makes me stop and just sit in total awe of how much of a blessing it is to be able to be a part of someone else’s life. This is completing the calling and my duty as an artist, seeing the circle being complete. Giving life to someone else, inspires me to write onwards.
Michiko: What do you believe are the standards of good writing?
Taka: I believe any good writing should ultimately engage the reader and convey a powerful message. Personally, I would argue that this has to be a positive message and impact the world in a constructive way. These days, now that I’m more mature, I also am no longer as interested in engaging emotions however. I am more seeking intellectual depth and the layers of abstract concepts beneath the work. There are some pieces that are more for “gratification” of readers, as in just create an enjoyable experience. But I believe good literature would do more than that and cause the reader to experience much more than they ever could have imagined, on all levels, the heart, the soul, the intellect, that addresses the most common and basic questions of all humankind and all stories: who am I, and who am I in this world or system?
On a more technical level, of course there is the “show don’t tell” but even that doesn’t quite clarify things. I think what truly smooths out literature would be the author’s voice and style. Something that balances out the different elements of a narrative well: narration (as in what actually is happening), description (engaging the senses without over-saturation and unrealistic sensory overload), inner thoughts and emotions (which includes the narrator’s personality and voice, as well as deeper thinking), dialogue (without unnecessary detail that takes away the focus from what is being said). All of that with a very sensitive intuition and an eye (or ear for proofreading out loud) for rhythm, like the balance and flow between long and short sentences, fragments, complexity and phrasing, and so on, will create and form the author’s voice. Diction does not necessarily have to be sophisticated, complex, or basic or anything. Some authors can sound profound and eloquent with simple vocabulary. It’s rather those elements I’ve mentioned that count, and then some. When everything works together, in a coherent, artful way, it would create “good writing”.
Michiko: What messages do you try to convey in your writings?
Taka: I try to address the base question of almost all stories: who am I in this world and system around? One common theme in my latest work is to do with philosophical Idealisms such as subjective idealism. The world is made up of a myriad of subjective interpretation and each person has their own views. Nothing is objective because once something is perceived by someone and attempted to be understood or expressed, it goes through the filters of each person’s influences, upbringing, background, philosophies, mindsets, emotional states, culture, and so on. To say a tree, will bring up different images for different people and different ideas about it. In the same way, there are countless parallels at work. Other than that, I will focus on the conflict between the emotional, primitive, instinctive self (i.e. the Id of Freud’s theories), and the rational, intellectual, disciplined self. Actually, I deal a lot with the self, and the different parts or sides of one person, and the death or ongoing change or journey of these selves, affected by the experience of life. I also aim to touch a lot on the idea of love, the different forms of love for example lust, parental love, sisterly/brotherly love and unconditional love. Love which is the strongest is mentioned by Plato and Socrates, that is manifested in a connection of the intellect and philosophy. For example, the difference between the level of fleeting emotions on whim based on a quick intuitive spark between two people or a match of values such as open communication and well thought out goals of creating a healthy collaborative marriage and joint career ambitions. The latter will result in a more long lasting relationship. But I’m not here to talk about love which would be a long spiel! Anyway, I think I will also convey the determination, courage, and perseverance of pursuing dreams and ambitions, no matter what it takes, to struggle against the oppressive pressures of the system and expectations around us from external sources, as well as the need to have hope and look forward despite temporal downs and painful suffering – especially emotional suffering: there is always a next day, and life is never static but in constant flux. We will be able to look back one day and realize it all passed by really quickly, and that we made it through. I am Christian as well and with a firm base foundation in my faith, I also think my work will reflect the idea of a greater force or current in the river of life. Things take its course, sometimes in ways we don’t understand, but if we ride the flow, we will emerge in a better place.
Michiko: What kind of mindset and setting must you be in to be able to write?
Taka: I can literally write anywhere. I’ve trained myself and my mind to be able to switch on and off emotions and distractions. Through my experience as a writer, I have acquired much determination and focus, and treat writing as my full time job and identity. I often set word quotas and ask myself, if I was a professional author and was getting paid for my time, what would I do? So for Espresso Love for example, I had a 1000 word per day quota, which most of the time I surpassed. During the end of the manuscript, I reached 3000-5000 words per day since I could see the end in sight.
However the best place would be in a quiet location. I prefer to be shut indoors, without much to see. This allows my mind to fully awaken and wander, creating the world within which I explore in my writing. If there is too much going on, even if it is beautiful scenery or something, as inspiring as that might be, it would present too much concrete form for my own imagination to manifest. My mind essentially contains enough beauty to not need to look at beauty.
But, that’s not to say I don’t enjoy awe-inspiring scenery, or a quiet day out under the sun, the “beautiful moments” in life. Those are part of my absorbing, meditation, thinking, planning and preparing, before I sit down to write. When I write, it needs to come from the subconscious and just bleed. All the content, inspirations, influences, philosophies, values, beliefs, plotlines and so on, are things I’ve created and readied in advance. They exist in one big pool. When I write, I simply open the valve and let it flow through me. This is the best way to write I believe. Art needs to flow, but most of the real work is done outside of that actual creation moment.
To get myself into writing mood, if say, I’m feeling unmotivated one day, I will read a few pages or paragraphs of my favourite author, mainly, Haruki Murakami, whose style is both my greatest influence and also so close to my instinctive voice, that it is like reading my own self, if I were to say reach a state of refinement and polish like a gemstone. So it puts me into the right place and I write after absorbing his words. If I’m not motivated, it will be like regurgitating his words – which is fine, since it is close to my own style.
Sometimes I will listen to music, but most of the time quiet works for me. If I’m writing something with heavy intellectual content, like Espresso Love, putting on classical music helps because it is more ambiguous, artistic and more interpretive than something with a real clear form, raw emotions and powerful messages in its lyrics. If I’m writing something romantic, I would listen to more anime-esque music, Jpop, Kpop and so on.
Taka: This is such a great question and I’m surprised no one has asked me that yet! Honestly, this is a phrase that I’ve always pondered over and researched widely about. But there are many opinions as to what order represents what. I’m actually going to confess: I’m personally NOT a coffee drinker! I’m a tea drinker – maybe hence, Shizuka’s order. If I was ordering at a coffee shop, it would likely be a simple green tea, or a kind black tea. No sugar, no spices, no milk, just straight. I love the clear pure aroma and taste of tea. I’m just Asian like that. It wakes me up and feels real good inside. I’m a health-nut so strong caffeine or thick sugary drinks don’t go down well for me. But more lately, I’ve been coming to enjoy ordering Shizuka’s drink – which many people all over the world have been trying as well! “It tastes like Christmas.” It’s real sweet and real cozy.
Michiko: Seventh question is about your characters in Espresso Love. Can you relate to any of the characters featured as in personality or their way of thinking.
Taka: The characters in Espresso Love like in all of my work are actually all parts or aspects of me. I also slip in my own voice into all of them. In fact, sometimes I prefer if they sound real ambiguous in their conversations, like they almost sound the same or are on the same wavelength. They definitely reflect me especially in the way I think. Naoki who is the narrator of the story for example has many philosophical tangents throughout the novel, which are essentially my own commentary of the world that he sees. Spoiler alert: Naoki with his “obstructed” emotions or memories are kind of like me these days. I’ve been much more involved with the intellectual side of life and my perception seems to lean towards something akin to maybe an ancient Greek philosopher as I get older. That’s not to say I’m emotionless, or don’t laugh or cry, I’m still a hopeless romantic at times, but that no longer is my first priority, so Naoki reflects that. The female characters probably also contain parts of me, but I’ll leave that up to reader interpretation.
Michiko: I personally know that you are picky when reading novels and works. What do you try to look for when reading?
Taka: Like I mentioned in the good writing question, it would be the same thing, except even more picky. Like it has to engage me on a very deep, thought-provoking level, providing much insight about the world and life, with many philosophies and layers of abstract concepts ingrained in, whether the writer had meant for it consciously or it just appears to me as the reader. On the other hand, like I wrote in “The Elephant Girl” short story, I also always put down books because I pretty much only accept one range of style or voice as I grow older. I look for a visionary, calm, detached, minimalistic, cold at times, sarcastic or light-hearted at times, and maybe slightly an unreliable narrator without showing it too obviously. To elaborate on the unreliability, the narrator would perceive things with his own insight or through his own school of thought that distorts the details of what he sees. For example, maybe a garbage can would just stand out so much, but instead he would glaze over a character’s death. Or a bowl of soup would suddenly trigger a chain of memories or thoughts seemingly unrelated. Something real skewed like that is interesting.
To clarify, I don’t read for storylines. I’ve stopped reading for that level – storytelling, which is the base level of all literature – because I’ve turned my focus on the deeper levels and want an experience out of my reading. If I wanted a storyline, I would turn to anime or a movie for gratification. Such entertainment would deliver the story much quicker and also paint a full picture for me, the visuals, the audio and so on. What sets apart literature is that it engages on a deeper level and opens the mind up to its own interpretation, imagination and so on. It instantly connects the reader to their senses, their own real life experiences and situations.
Taken from Rowena Wiseman’s interview
Tell us a little about how you are going beyond the traditional book and fusing art, media and music with your novel Espresso Love …
Espresso Love was written as an accumulation of a few years of personal experiences – in particular, travelling to Japan on my own and networking with local talent, my long persistent striving for musical ambitions and employment for a year in the corporate world – which was in stark contrast with my fundamental values, beliefs and foundations, along with a severe bout of depression, a health issue and other things which hindered my creative energy. When I started the novel at the beginning of this year (2014), it was designed to cap off and try to reveal what I’ve discovered, largely an ambitious undertaking – something that I had never done before: in fact, I hadn’t written prose in a long time. It really became a collection of my philosophical ponderings and criticisms of our current consumer culture, digital entertainment landscape and capitalist mechanism. It is founded on a dystopian sort of concept but is more of a personal and subjective experience of a world that is severely saturated with subliminally oppressive ideology and locked down by pressures and forces on different fronts, that is flattening people to mere numbers and emotionless gears of a machine.
Aside from the planning or thinking process involved, it is in my practice to write from the subconscious and let words flow, so when my conscious and more spiritual existential subconscious worlds collided, it became magical realism. I realize that a huge theme is challenging perception itself, presenting a discourse that the world is made up of all these forces – essentially a myriad of subjective perception and symbolic interpretations: that there is no true objective reality. The characters are swallowed and tossed between different pseudo-realities, a bombardment of instantaneous images and sounds, without a clear sense of what is real. In the same way, the novel is intended to provoke questions rather than answers, inspire new insight and philosophies, and allows a lot of room for reader interpretation. The experience of serializing literature online has been a blessing especially for this kind of project, since so much of it has to do with subjective perception – whenever someone comes along and offers their own insight or responses to the questions and ideas raised through comments and conversation, it is an absolute delight. They become a collaborative moment where I, too, am learning about my own novel and inner world.
In the past few years, I’ve realized that there is a higher level of human imagination and wisdom beyond our own consciousness and in a sense, many great thinkers and artists in the past who have sparked movements and changed history express radical things rooted in very abstract eternal ideals and concepts that seem to come from something higher than the physical, emotional, social plane of the world (an idea which is explored in my work). This novel is similarly a conscious and subconscious attempt to transcend into the metaphysical through art. How successful it is in doing so, that would be up to the reader! But regardless, the roots of the novel for me is beyond the novel itself, therefore, it is naturally necessary for other arts to come into play.
I’ve always had a lot of friends and contacts locally and internationally, who are extremely talented and multi-talented, yet many seem to develop their own paths independently. So I am taking this as an opportunity to meld some likeminded artistic souls, old and new friends together and add to the whole idea of this mosaic of subjective perceptions, different interpretations and personal responses to the themes, concepts (or other actual narrative and descriptive details) presented.
I have mentioned the project to a variety of illustrators, painters and artists for a visual art collaboration. Artwork could then be compiled into an art book or perhaps reproduced as t-shirts, phone cases, mugs – merchandise that I have experimented with in the past. A friend of mine who creates handmade crafts already joined in with her coffee bean charms which were part of the first free giveaway I launched for readers, to celebrate a few milestones and give back to the community. Coffee beans are discussed in the novel and play a huge symbolic role, and it feels like it’s taking on a physical form, crossing the boundaries of perception, text on a page or screen into reality, from world to world.
Secondly, the dystopian content of the novel is also planned to manifest itself physically, through a social experiment / art installation campaign of large minimalist posters with vague, mysterious, thought-provoking and potentially jarring statements – which are things that actually appear in the novel. These would be posted all over Toronto in public and hopefully will garner some interest or solicit reactions as they present existential questions, offer social criticism or challenge the system. Meanwhile, a few volunteers would be filming and documenting the process.
Thirdly, music, references to music, and discussion of music plays a significant part in the novel, as I am a musician myself and have tried to plan my life around music making. I’ve always wanted to create original music soundtracks for my novels and involve various media in projects (for example, manga/graphic novel adaptations, independent film and so on), but this novel in particular is even more suitable! Along with other interested independent musicians, we will strive to create a mini-album with jazz, blues, indie, acoustic, rock influences that flow with the sentiments and abstract concepts involved. Each song will be the musician’s own interpretation of ideas in the novel.
The art and music projects are planned to be released if/when the novel is published, to spawn some sort of a small scale movement. I am passionate about sharing and inspiring, and I wouldn’t want the release of the novel to be an independent solitary occasion; I would take it as a chance to promote my peers and contribute to the artistic landscape. For example – just some wishful thinking here – book release or signing events would be coupled with live coffee house style acoustic performances of the songs in the original album.
Your cell phone novel Secondhand Memories has built quite a following. How have you found the experience of people writing fan fiction about you?
The fanfictions were really something unexpected at first. In the beginning, it was a little strange and embarrassing, because I felt like I was being misinterpreted or that my private life was being invaded knowing someone out there is thinking about me! Then I realized, just likeEspresso Love, wearing my pseudonym – rather, mononymous identity – I, myself, am a “text” for subjective interpretation. And that is totally part of my passion and ideal. I always try to share as much as I can with people, friends, family and the community out there. In a sense, I live like an open book and life, in my personal philosophy, does not belong to us: I am here for a limited amount of time for a purpose, for a mission, and to be an inspiration, to help people with their walk in life towards a hopeful and positive direction. So, why was it bothering me that someone was writing something about me? When I realized that I am, in a way, a work of art, my perspective shifted and I welcomed seeing a myriad of different perceptions about me.
In my short story, “Sometimes I Think You Can’t Hear Me”, there is a passage where I describe how everything within our inner world exists separate from our outer appearance, and that our outer appearance similarly is separate from another person’s subjective perception of us. There is no way someone will truly know much about someone’s inner world – there are two barriers – and even if the person tries to express as much as possible, it then goes through the perceiver’s interpretation, filtered through the perceiver’s background, upbringing, philosophies, experiences, emotional state, and an abundant amount of influences. On the other hand, even we, ourselves, do not truly know what is within our inner worlds: we are only able to understand our consciousness, but not our subconscious and unconscious worlds. So again, fanfiction began to make sense to me.
In literary criticism there are scholars who will separate the work from the author, and try to take on as objective as a view as possible. But I think the author can be just as important and both the work and the author needs to be studied separately and then conjoined as one to grasp the fullest possible picture. I, the author, am also an object of study and am a part of my work.
Knowing there are people who will make efforts to study me and interpret me in their own ways is encouraging really – that as the author, or as a person, I may be interesting enough for such interpretation. In the end, it nurtured my confidence and I’m grateful to these writers and readers. What I hope for, is that they will continue to grow and using fanfiction as a form of inspiration, move on to create original characters.