Hi guys. So I read Ink a few days ago and quite enjoyed it. The best thing was the inclusion of Japanese mythology (I love all forms, epecially the ones you don't see too much of). And then I got this post and...yeah! Excellent post from Amanda. Enjoy.
When I was little, my mother bought me a wonderful book filled with myths. These weren’t just the rich Greek and Roman myths you might grow up with, but the pages were filled with mythologies I’d never heard of before. Mesopotamian, Inuit, Australian Aboriginee…and Japanese. This was where I first encountered the myth of Izanami and Izanagi, and their child Amaterasu, who became the goddess to which all Japanese emperors would claim lineage.
As I grew older, I spent a lot of time watching animes, reading manga, and gaming. A lot of the Asian myths reappeared in these formats, sometimes quite directly and other times as subtle inspiration. At the same time, my love of mythologies was growing. I spent most of my time reading MG and YA Fantasy books, delving deeper into traditional western mythologies and starting to write Fantasy novels of my own.
In university, I majored in Classical Archaeology. Finally I was able to pursue my love of myths on another level. I soaked up everything I could find. At the same time, I took courses in Asian History and Japanese, still fascinated by the culture I’d learned about as an exchange student in Osaka.
A strange thing happened, then. My interest in Egyptian history and beliefs combined with Japanese beliefs and mythology. The Egyptian hieroglyphs I was learning contained a lot of snake symbols, but in most cases on tomb walls, the snakes had been chiselled through the middle breaking them in two. Why? Because the scribes were concerned the hieroglyphs would come alive in the After Life and bite the Pharaoh entombed.
Drawings coming to life in dangerous ways.
At the same time, Japanese kanji came from Chinese characters, originally used for talking to the spirit world. I loved the idea of these drawings coming to life and connecting with Japanese mythology, but I was still writing YA Fantasy—the traditional kind—and hadn’t really made the connection yet.
Did I mention I also took Art History in university? (Yeah…I kind of took everything. Also Linguistics and English Lit.) I loved learning about Japanese calligraphy and the ink and wash paintings that looked as if they could come alive.
Then I started reading YA influenced by Asian history and mythology, like Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon and Half World by Hiromi Goto. Like lots of other readers, I loved my share of vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and other paranormal YA, but I was excited about these brand new origins of myths or creatures.
It all made sense, how I could combine my love of YA and Japanese mythology and art. I started researching the myths more closely, and at the same time looking at how Japanese history developed. I looked for key historical figures, and any strange rumours surrounding them. I decided to link the two together, hoping you couldn’t find where I stitched up the seams.
One thing I really love about Japanese mythology is that, like many older stories in the world, the morality or the flow of the story often doesn’t make sense to modern readers. Try it with any ancient myth—you won’t always follow how they made those judgement calls, or why they said or did what they did. I liked how unpredictable the stories were, how dangerous and untamed they often felt. And I wanted to make Japanese culture accessible to an outside audience the way they’d been made accessible to me in other YA titles.
A lot of the mythology in INK is based on those original stories I read in the myth encyclopedia my mother gave me as a child. I hope that you’ll come to enjoy the unfamiliar tone of the myths that inspired INK, and that the same feeling of an unpredictable outcome. That’s the thing about Japanese myths—they aren’t safe, just like the ink.