Author, Amanda Sun’s kindly put me in touch with her main character, Katie Greene. Today, Ink’s American born heroine talks about culture shock, and the impact of love and loss on her life.
Following a family tragedy, Katie Greene had to move in with her aunt, Diane, who lives the other side of the world in Japan. Today she’ll be telling us a little more about what that’s been like for her, and even lets me quiz her about Tomohiro. He’s the star of her new school’s kendo team…he’s also moody, and has a secret which if the wrong people were to learn of, could endanger them both.
Hi Katie, thanks so much for taking the time out to speak with me today.
Hi Katja. Thanks so much for having me. *smooths out skirt* It feels kinda weird to be speaking English again, if that makes sense.
That does make sense! When I moved to Germany I sometimes accidentally responded to questions in English, but two years later I moved to England and found myself sometimes lapsing back into German! So what would you say has been the biggest challenge for you in adjusting to life in Japan?
Honestly? Day-to-day life. Like, I never had to get up this early to make it to school back in New York. I didn’t have to go into school for club meetings on Saturdays, or empty the garbage bins in the classroom. I make a lot of mistakes like hugging friends when I shouldn’t, or calling people by their first name instead of their last. It’s confusing and I keep breaking rules I don’t even know about. My friends are really great, and my aunt, Diane, helps me out a lot, but it’s hard getting used to everything.
Could you tell us something about yourself that not many people know?
Okay, so, my mom was a single parent and a journalist. Things were pretty intense for her, so every summer Nan would give her a break by having me stay with her in Deep River. It’s this little town in the middle of nowhere, on the banks of—ready?—a deep river. I had this great group of friends up there. One time, we swam across the river at midnight, in our clothes and everything. It was so hot out, and we just jumped into the cool water and swam across. Then we lay on the beach and looked up at the stars.
I got in so much trouble with Nan when I got home sopping wet and sandy! *laughs* But I felt like anything was possible in that moment. I felt like something was waiting for me, but I didn’t know what. After that I felt restless all the time. But now that I’m in Japan I’m…learning things about myself I didn’t know before. And I think I’m starting to unravel where my life is going, you know? It’s scary, but it’s better than feeling as lost as I did when Mom died.
I can’t even begin to imagine how much you’ve had to handle, and it seems you’ve taken on even more with Tomohiro. I mean, you two didn’t meet under the best of circumstances. Why of all the boys, was he the one you fell for?
At first, I didn’t really understand it. There was something in him that drew me in. He was a jerk, and I wanted to ignore him, but…I saw something I couldn’t explain in his art. *looks nervous* I mean, it’s nothing. But the thing is, I discovered that he’d lost his mom too. And I was such a wreck over losing my mom. I never knew my dad, and Nan couldn’t take me in. I felt so lost. When I heard Tomo had been through the same, I was desperate for answers. How could I cope with the pain I was feeling? How could I stop hurting all the time? And he got it. He didn’t tell me all the lame things the people at Mom’s funeral told me, stuff like “she’s in a better place” and “time heals all wounds.” He just let me be me.
Honestly, I think there’s something more that draws us together, now. I feel like something inside me is reaching out for him, something that isn’t really me. I guess that sounds weird. Actually, never mind. It’s nothing.
And, is there were anything you would change about Tomohiro?
Because of what he’s been through in his life, he’s built a lot of barriers around himself. I know that all he wants is to be normal, to be liked at school and have friends. I mean, he is liked. He’s admired for his kendo and all that, but I think, really, he just wants to be normal. I don’t think he wants to be a jerk all the time. That really isn’t who he is, and I’ve seen that. So, I wish he could have that kind of life and just be himself at school. I wish things could be different for him.
It seems to me that your stay in Japan’s really got you thinking about your values in life. Like you said, you’re going through a process of unravelling where you’re life’s going. Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers?
Try to remember to take your school slippers off before you head home. *laughs* Mortifying. But honestly? Just keep going in life, because there’s more that’s meant for you. I think we all feel the same way when we stare at the stars at night—we want to matter, you know? And I think we do. But we have to run toward what we want, because it isn’t going to just come knock on your door. And you can’t be afraid, even when there are answers you might not really want to know. You can’t move on if you don’t face your fears. At least, that’s what I’ve found for me.
Thanks for having me, Katja.
It was wonderful getting to know you better, Katie. I’m so glad Amanda Sun and Kismet Book Tours made our interview possible.
For US/Canada residents, I’m thrilled to be able to offer up TWO giveaways! The first is for the chance win one of 9 copies of Ink. The second is a one-of-a-kind, authentic Japanese Yukata. Enter via the Rafflecopter link below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
For a chance to get to know Amanda and Ink better, do check out these other wonderful stops on the Kismet Book Tour…
Ink by Amanda Sun
Release: June 25th 2013 by HarlequinTEEN
About Amanda Sun
I’m a YA author and proud Nerdfighter. I was born in Deep River, Canada, a very small town without traffic lights or buses, and where stranger safety is comprised of what to do if you see a bear—or skunk. I started reading fantasy novels at 4 and writing as soon as I could hold a pencil. Hopefully my work’s improved since then.
In university I took English, Linguistics, and Asian History, before settling into Archaeology, because I loved learning about the cultures and stories of ancient people. Of course, I didn’t actually become an archaeologist—I have an intense fear of spiders. I prefer unearthing fascinating stories in the safety of my living room.
The Paper Gods is inspired by my time living in Osaka and travelling throughout Japan. That and watching far too many J-Dramas. I currently live in Toronto with my husband and daughter. When I’m not writing, I’m devouring YA books, knitting nerdy things like Companion Cubes and Triforce mitts, and making elaborate cosplays for anime cons.