Showing posts with label Interview 2021. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Interview 2021. Show all posts

Monday, 5 April 2021

Tsunami Girl by Julian Sedgwick (Author), Chie Kutsuwada (Illustrator) - Guest Post Interview - Guppy Books

 


Hello Everybody! (みなさん、こんにちは) One of my favourite books of the year has been Tsunami Girl by Julian Sedgwick. It has been brilliantly illustrated by Chie Kutsuwada. Told through both prose and manga, it's a fantastic but very poignant cultural reality. If you would like to read my review then follow the link HERE. This post is an interview with Julian and Chie about the partnership between author and illustrator and the origins of this amazing book. We hope you enjoy it as much as we have. 

There is a link at the bottom of the post to watch the live book launch and a place where you can buy signed copies of this special book. Enjoy and see you soon. 

Julian writes: Two things in particular worried me about researching and writing Tsunami Girl. The first was to earn the trust and support of affected communities on the Fukushima coast, and create a story that would do justice and respect to the heavy themes of loss, trauma, damage and recovery. If I hadn’t had such a positive reaction from the towns I visited near the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plant, I would have abandoned the idea. 


But secondly - even after winning that trust, and friendship – I also worried a lot about whether my idea of combining a prose and manga story could work. It took many, many notebooks, early abandoned drafts and plot diagrams to find a way to combine the main prose part of the novel  (which tells central character Yūki’s story) with the manga inserts that show another angle – another world even – and highlight Yuki’s own creation, a diminutive superhero called Half Wave. 


Even when I had the main shape of an idea, and a contract with my new publisher, Guppy Books, I still had to convince an experienced manga artist that this would work. It was at this point that a mutual friend introduced me to Chie Kutsuwada, and – after our own discussion about motivations and trust! - our collaboration began. 


Below, we chat about the practical process involved in weaving manga and prose into one book.



JULIAN: Hi Chie! I’m still so delighted that I found you to bring the manga sections of Tsunami Girl to life. For a long time I worried whether the idea would work, and what a manga artist would make of my script. Did you have any worries about the technical aspects of tying prose and manga together? And was there anything that particularly excited – or worried you - about the task?


CHIE: Hi Julian! So do I! I’m still feeling honoured and lucky to be involved in your brave and epic project! 

Well, I actually didn’t have many worries. I just liked the idea of prose and manga together. And when I read your text, I felt sure that it would work well. The aspect I was most careful about was this: I had to make sure that all the characters ‘looked’ the same in both the prose and in the manga parts where readers can actually see the characters’ faces. So, I tried to imagine the whole book visually first. By doing so, I could get an even approach to, for example, how each character makes their facial expressions. How about you, Julian? How did you make the text go back and forth between prose and manga seamlessly?




JULIAN: Through a long process of trial and error! I always knew there would be both manga pages and a manga storyline, but in early versions it was Grandpa who had created Half Wave, and it was the grandchild who helped him imagine one final great instalment of Half Wave’s adventures. At that point the manga story was a separate adventure that mirrored what was happening to our central character Yūki - (who incidentally started out as a boy in the first few drafts!) 

Whilst I could make certain echoes between the prose and manga stories, they just wouldn’t interweave well enough, until I realised the manga story had to be more about the disaster itself, and just show a different, imaginative interaction with that disaster and the recovery. Suddenly I could feel it was going to work. But even then I wondered if the images and text would gel. 

Your early roughs of characters and settings were really convincing and good to see. But I remember it took us a little while to find a version of Half Wave that worked for us all. Maybe you could say a little about developing the characters visually - particularly Half Wave?


CHIE: I know it is not the most practical way to do character design, but I usually wait for inspiration to hit me. In this case, I read the script a few times and repeatedly read some critical parts. I was thinking about the characters, almost all the time, until I started feeling that I knew them.

Usually when I feel I know characters, I can get to see them visually, then I start sketching several different versions. For the Tsunami Girl characters, I did not need to do much planning sketches. As I familiarised with the story, I quite easily started to see them visually because the way you describe them is very clear. I believe you know them very, very well. Because you are the creator, of course to come extent you must know them - but it is beyond that. I feel you really KNOW them, maybe it is because some of the characters were based on your actual friends? Also the image references you showed me helped me a lot.

As for Half Wave, the sketch of him by your son was everything. His sketch, and how Half Wave acts in the story, gave me inspiration - and I think I did not change much from your son’s initial image! What I did was to make him look more manga. That’s it really!  I remember that our discussion was mainly his age and height,  wasn’t it? 




JULIAN: It’s interesting that your process of finding characters as an illustrator is so like mine as a writer. Suddenly - you know they are coming to some kind of life. 

Practically, with Half Wave, getting his height right was really important - he’s an eternal (wise) child, forever on the cusp of growing up, with real wisdom and strength. What we did discuss was how Half Wave should look subtly different from Yūki, Taka, Grandpa and the other people from this world. Half Wave needed to look like he belonged in the liminal space between this world (konoyo) and ‘that world’ (anoyo). After two or three versions, suddenly he was there. A very exciting moment. (And as my younger son comes towards the end of his comic and character design degree at uni, he’ll be glad of that praise!)

It’s interesting, ever since reading Spiegelman’s Maus I’ve been in no doubt that all subject material can be tackled in comic/graphic novel/manga type approaches. I never worried that manga could help carry the weight of the story of the disaster, (especially after reading more widely around  alternative manga or gekiga - and coming across works like the incredible Fukushima Devil Fish by Katsumata Susumu.) Are there any manga series or titles you’d love to see translated and brought into the UK market from Japan? Anything we’re really missing out on?!


CHIE: It was amazing when your visualisation of the characters and mine overlapped and merged to become what they are now…
Well, as for manga which I strongly believe should be translated... all of Yumiko Oshima’s work, especially short stories. She debuted in 1968 and is a very well-established manga artist. She is just one of the best storytellers… (Another manga artist who I think is in that category is Moto Hagio. Her work is getting translated more and more recently.)
Oshima’s work may look quite pretty and delicate, but often the theme is very heavy and philosophical, concerning love (not typical romantic type), birth, death, mental illness, aging, and the end of the world - which are not typical topics for manga works targeting towards young girls. I think this kind of heavy but realistic theme is picked as a theme for manga more and more recently, but she did it more than 30 years ago, and her work does not look dated at all… 

One of many qualities I like about her work is even though she talks about those heavy issues, she does not use bang-in-your-face sensationalism. Her work is very poetic, her choice of words and drawing style is soft, but as you read, it feels like something has gouged at your heart. Very powerful. I hope one day some of her work is properly translated into English. I even want to volunteer to be that translator…!



Click Here if you weren’t able to make the event live – and enter password +aD4@u%4 to watch. Signed copies by both Julian and Chie are available on the Waterstone’s Website Here.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Interview with Children's Author Tamsin Mori - The Weather Weaver (Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books)


Hello Everybody. We hope you are all feeling more positive about the future. Reading is certainly a good way to help raise the spirits.  One of our children's book picks for March 2021 is The Weather Weaver by Tamsin Mori. The book will be published by UCLan Publishing on the 4th March 2021. We thought this was a cracking opportunity to contact the author and ask some questions to find out more about this wonderful book and the amazing cover you can see above. 

We really hope you enjoy reading this post as much as we did asking the questions. If you would like to know more about the author of the book you can drop us both a tweet on Twitter: @Enchantedbooks or @MoriTamsin Thanks for reading and have a nice day.


Can you reveal a bit more about the book than what the synopsis tells us? That's very tricky without spoilers, but hopefully, the answers to the rest of these questions will give you some clues.


When did you get the first idea about writing this book?

The seeds of the story were sown when I was very small. Whenever we went back to Shetland to visit family, I didn't want to leave. I realised that if the fog came in, the planes couldn't leave, and we'd get to stay a little longer, so I used all my powers of persuasion to call in the fog. I wrote poems, spells, secret recipes... And sometimes, it worked! Once, we got a whole extra week in Shetland. The fog had heard me. At that point, I became convinced that I had secret weather powers of my own. 


Stella, who is the main character in the book, discovers she is a Weather Weaver. What is a Weather Weaver and how important is this to the plot?

A weather weaver is someone who can choose the weather - usually with the help of a cloud who's taken a liking to them. 

Weather Weaving is fairly central to the plot - early in the book, Stella catches a small but very feisty cloud. Their early attempts at weather weaving are erratic, verging on dangerous. It takes a close relationship, an amount of self-awareness, and great deal of trust, to be able to conjure different weathers at will. Stella and her cloud find almost every aspect of that quite challenging! But with Tamar as her mentor, Stella is in good hands.


What made you write a book set in the Shetland Islands?

Shetland is my heart's home. Though I've never lived there, half my family are Shetlanders - my mum grew up in Scalloway. All the stories I loved when I was small originated in Shetland - both island myths and family legends - and they took root in my imagination. Most of the traditional myths belong to the land, or the sea - I wanted to write one that celebrated the wide, expressive Shetland skies.


What are the top things to do when visiting the Shetland Islands? (We'd really like to visit the Shetland Islands)

That could fill several books and besides, it depends what time of year you go there! 

In winter, there's the northern lights (the mirrie dancers), and the viking festival, Up Helly Ah! 

The Weather Weaver is set in summer, which is perfect for puffin spotting - the RSPB sanctuary at Sumburgh lighthouse is a great location for that. If you want to visit the broch which features in the book, the boat trip to Mousa is a must. You can see a multitude of amazing seabirds there - bonxies, guillemots, arctic terns, and storm petrels - and climb to the top of the broch for yourself! Though, fair warning, it's a long way up. In Lerwick, the Shetland Times Bookshop is a favourite haunt of mine (surprise!). The Shetland Museum and Mareel are both definitely worth a visit and the Peerie Shop makes outstanding Cullen Skink. There's also whale watching, the otter sanctuary, Shetland Wool Week, awesome food, incredible unspoilt landscape and empty beaches... sigh. I can't wait to get back there.


What emotions do you want the reader to experience when reading this book?

All of them! One of the key themes in the book is that there aren't any 'bad' emotions - every single one has its place and its purpose. Different weathers reflect and respond to our different moods - emotions as wide as the sky. Stella discovers that, though perhaps a little too late...


What would be your favourite type of weather day?

Bright and blustery, perhaps with a few showers and rainbows to liven things up a bit. Though having said that, I do love a good thunderstorm!


You went to eight different schools in your childhood. Do you think you have gained any skills/attributes by going to so many? 

I think it taught me self-reliance, and perhaps gave me an insight into the similarities and subtle differences between how people think and behave in different places. I wouldn't recommend it, but it was useful in the story. Stella experiences some of that sense of displacement and a deep longing to belong. 


What do you think of the book cover illustration and did you have any input into it?

I adore the cover illustration. David Dean has captured the full spectrum of weather magic, with Stella standing small and brave in the centre. I was bowled over when I first saw it: "It's like David read my mind!". My husband pointed out that it was more likely he'd read my book.

I was delighted that UCLAN publishing asked for my input, though to be honest, David created an illustration that immediately felt right for the book. The only thing I was picky about was Grandpa's but'n'ben (a type of small, simple building) on the back cover - it was a grand two-storey house in the first iteration. 


What books do you read for pleasure? Is there anything that stands out for you recently? 

I read a real mixture of books - middle-grade, YA, adult fiction, and non-fiction too. Some middle-grade books that I've adored recently are: Vi Spy, by the brilliant Maz Evans, The Castle of Tangled Magic by Sophie Anderson, and Gargantis by Thomas Taylor. I'm waiting impatiently to jump into A Tangle of Spells by Michelle Harrison, but my daughter has first dibs.