GETTIN’ LUCKY: An Interview with Amanda Sun, author of INK

Today we’re excited to interview Lucky13 author Amanda Sun,  whose YA Novel INK is the first book in the Paper Gods trilogy. INK hits the shelves June 25. Check out the blurb from Goodreads:

9780373210718_TSF_SMP.inddOn the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they’ll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.

Hi Amanda and welcome to the OneFourKidLit blog.  I’ve been super excited about doing this interview ever since I read INK.  It’s an amazing book, and obviously I’m not the only one who thinks so.  INK made it onto USA Today’s list of “Best Reads for Summer”(!!!!) and you were featured in an article in Writers Digest Magazine.  That’s pretty amazing advance attention for a debut book.  But before I get too far ahead of myself, can you give our audience a quick overview of the plotline of INK?

Sure! INK is the story of Katie, an American teen who’s lost her mother and moves to Japan to live with her English-teaching aunt. There she crosses paths with Tomohiro, the kendo star of her new school, and soon discovers that his drawings come to life in dangerous ways. They find themselves on the run when the wrong people notice. There’s danger, kendo, hot Asian boys, Yakuza gangsters, kissing, and lots of tasty Japanese food. ^_^

The book has also been designed beautifully, with a watercolor-paper textured cover, illustrations, and flip animations in the corners. The ebook is enhanced with moving drawings on ereaders which support video. So it’s a very cool, immersive experience that I can’t wait to share with everyone. ^_^

The visuals sound fantastic!  The plotline is, too, with its setting in Japan and its tie-ins with Japanese history.  How much did the mythology and history of Japan influence INK?

Well, INK is actually influenced by both Japanese and Egyptian mythology. I tried to stay as true to the mythology and history as I could, looking for instances where I could twist the truth just a little for INK. I’ve always been interested in Japanese mythology, starting with a book my mother gave me about Izanami and Izanagi. Japanese kanji, originally Chinese writing characters, have their roots in communicating with the spirit world, and I was also influenced by my studies in Egyptian Hieroglyphic. All the snake symbols in the Egyptian tombs were often chiselled through to “kill” the snakes so they wouldn’t come alive in the After Life. I loved the idea of the drawings coming to life, and combined that with the research I’d done into Japanese mythology and history.

I also really liked a cartoon as a child called Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings. Does anyone know it? *laughs*

There’s a lot of mentions of food in INK. I found myself getting hungry and wishing I could taste some of the delicacies Katie was enjoying!  What’s your favorite Japanese food?

It has to be katsu curry rice. I love it so much and make it for my family all the time. I also love nikujaga (beef and carrot stew), okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake-type dish) and omurice. On the dessert side, I love purin, melon soda, and kakigori (sno-cones). And now I’m starving! 😀

You obviously love Japan, and your description of the park during cherry blossom season was incredible.  It made me want to book a flight to Japan for next spring!  What is your favorite place in Japan to visit?

My favorite place in Japan is definitely Takatsuki, Osaka. It’s where I lived as an exchange student in high school, and it always feels like returning home to go there. They have a beautiful park filled with cherry trees, and I also love Kabusanji Temple, up the mountain. Kabusanji was the first place I heard about kendo–one of the monks played a video of his family member (nephew, I think?) competing, and I was taken with the sport right away. I had the opportunity a couple years ago to back to Kabusanji for a tea ceremony. The temple grounds are really beautiful and filled with old treasures–one of their historic fire-proofed rooms was the inspiration for a room in Itsukushima Shrine mentioned in INK. So this temple, and my exchange student life in Takatsuki, really brings back a nostalgic feeling that is linked to The Paper Gods. As they say in Japanese, natsukashii! So nostalgic and bittersweet.

As this community is All for One and OneFour KidLit, we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid.

Growing up, my favorite authors were Lloyd Alexander, Jane Yolen, and Bruce Coville. I still have my editions of these books like Taran Wanderer, the Pit Dragon Trilogy, and the Unicorn Chronicles saved to give my daughter when she’s old enough. They inspired me to become a writer, and what I loved most about the books was how they spoke to me as a person–not condescending at all, but trusting me to understand and experience everything in the books.

As a YA author, my favorite books are Mort by Terry Pratchett, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, and The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. They inspire me to push myself to be better, to be brave enough to take my characters into those dark, uncharted waters where anything could happen, and to write books which aren’t safe.

Amanda, it’s been wonderful hearing about INK and the experiences that inspired it.  I’m sure it’s going to be flying off the shelves as soon as it’s available on June 25th.  Your schedule is crazy busy these days, I know,  so I really appreciate that you made time to visit with us.  And thanks for the signed advance copy of INK and the signed bookmarks you’ve contributed for us to give away.

Thank you so much for chatting with me today! 🙂

AmandaSunABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Amanda Sun was born in Deep River, a small town where she could escape into the surrounding forest to read. An archaeologist by training, she speaks several languages and will write your name in Egyptian Hieroglyphic if you ask. She loves knitting, gaming, and cosplay, and lives in Toronto with her family. You can find Amanda online at:

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Gayle Rosengren loves story (and chocolate) in all forms. If she’s not at her laptop writing, she might be spotted at a bookstore, a stack of children’s books piled to her chin. She is endlessly fascinated by families–their quirks and their stories–as evidenced in her forthcoming book, WHAT THE MOON SAID (February 20, 2014, Putnam/Penguin).
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