Wisepresident of Wit

[This entry contains spoilers for SNOW, so new readers probably shouldn’t go further.]

Ah man, how long has it been since Arisu’s birthday?
Too long. And here I was talking about wanting to write up a post about her on her birthday weekend….. so much for that. I can’t even blame it on having been busy working, because I can’t say I’ve been writing much as of late…

In any case, it’s never too late to talk about the characters, even if there’s no special occasion calling for it. When looking back at SNOW now, there are so many things I want to change, most of them are very small and have to do with the general way I wrote certain things, or certain scenes I want to change a bit, wording, sentence structures….
I also want to give Maaya and Aki more time, but I guess that’s not happening.
A lot of the time, I’m thinking I want to go back and change things, not drastically, but for the next printing, I definitely want to edit some things I’m not too happy with.

However, I can’t change major things that might mess with the plot, and one of the things that makes me feel bad about that, is my guilt towards Arisu.
Since this is a BL story, there isn’t much weight on female characters. And I don’t mean to sound misogynistic here, because I’m not, but I’m the kind of person who instantly fears when a female
character enters a BL story – because there is such a common trope in this genre that one or both parts of the main couple has at some point been with a woman, and so the female character instantly becomes a threat and basis for a conflict that shouldn’t exist in the first place.
Of course, Arisu plays no such role, but to begin with, she wasn’t intended to play as large a role as she ended up doing in the main story.
And that is why I feel bad for her.
Arisu was originally created somewhat on a whim, because Maaya needed a fellow student council representative, and someone he relied on in class in terms of responsibilities. Because I already focus so much on male characters, I wanted to balance it out a little, and she came into play. However, like many of my characters, Arisu has a really strong personality, and I found that she ended up taking up a lot of space. Not in a bad way either. I’ve come to be very fond of her, and quickly realized that she was one of Maaya’s closest friends. I guess you can say that she stands somewhere between Maaya and Atsushi, personality-wise, as she is definitely smart and dependable, but she is also much less rigid than Maaya, and leans more towards Atsushi’s playful side in that sense.

My lovely friends portraying Arisu and Acchan. Aug.2011

My lovely friends portraying Arisu and Acchan (August 2011)

Ironically, it was after I finished writing the main story, and started doing little drabbles and snippets, that I found how well these characters balance each other out, and what nice dynamic is found between the three of them. I don’t know how well that dynamic comes across in the main story for non-biased readers, and that makes me a little worried…

When writing up these bits and pieces that probably won’t ever see the light of day, I have gotten to know this character in many new ways, and there are things I know about her now, that I didn’t think of when I first wrote her.

One of the things that always made me curious, was that she takes the train towards Shinjuku, central Tokyo after school, which means that she commutes pretty far every day. Now of course, this isn’t uncommon in Japan, and certainly not in the bigger cities. But it was a bit strange to me, the more I thought about it, that someone living in central Tokyo would commute to the sticks to attend school. Maybe it was a complete whim that I wrote her taking that train, but it did create a conundrum in my mind the more I thought of it.
I tried to settle with an explanation like “maybe she chose the school because the uniform was cute?” which is typically suggested in typical shoujo-stories, but then again, Arisu isn’t the type to think in such shallow manners. She’s smart, so she probably didn’t have any difficulty getting in anywhere she wanted, so why Norin?

It struck me sometime last year.
Arisu was bullied in middle school.
So simple, yet so difficult. I don’t know why, or how.
Maybe it was because of her witty comments, and habit of speaking before stopping to consider, and maybe that made it hard for her to fit in. Maybe she was too comfortable with her coeds, and it ignited a jealousy in her shyer female classmates? It’s plausible.
Arisu isn’t the type of person who cares what others think, or hold herself back just to be polite, and that kind of person can easily clash with others in a society that demands you think of others before yourself. She also lacks shyness, and is pretty straight forward.

One thing that I’ve struggled with a lot of mixed feelings about, is the scene in SNOW where Maaya has first confessed to having slept with Keiichi, and Arisu’s response is to jokingly call him a slut. No, it’s not politically correct, but neither is she (or most of my characters for that matter), and of course she doesn’t mean it. But I mean, it’s a horrible thing to say to your friend, even as a joke, and sometimes I worry what my readers think of this, even though I know them well enough to say that he wasn’t offended, or particularly surprised by her outburst. On the other hand, this scene is sort of symbolic for how she acts without thinking, and how open she is, and easily catches on. She knew before he said anything, and since then, I’ve always been pretty certain that she could tell, because she’s not the type to hold back, even in romance. If Maaya is overly paranoid about when the right time is, Arisu figures that any time that feels okay, is the right time. I was left with the impression that “Ah, she’s already done it. She’s confident about herself and sexuality in general.”

Of course, I’m not saying that she had her debut in middle school, that’s rather doubtful. But for a girl to be straightforward with guys in a vulnerable time where most people are afraid of talking to the opposite sex, rumors quickly develop, and can have devastating results.
Although she is open minded and outspoken, I have a feeling she’s not the type to shout it from the roof tops when she is going out with someone (ironic as that is for someone who feigns annoyance at not hearing about her friends’ dates), so it’s plausible she’s been hiding a boyfriend from her buddies.

Although I can’t say for certain why she was bullied, I think that she decided to apply to a school further away to avoid the possibility of going to High School with the same people as before, not because she didn’t think she could handle it, but because she didn’t want to let that color what supposedly were to be the best years of her life.
She chose to renew herself, by leaving the person she had been. I think that by her final year in middle school, despite her instincts, she was beginning to shut herself in, hold back more, so not to provoke anyone further. But she refused to break, and her renewal wasn’t of the drastic kind. What she left behind was the vulnerability. She utilized her weaknesses, and emerged stronger, raised her head and entered a school where she knew nobody, proceeded to be her cheerful, slightly over the top self, and made friends on account of that.

My guess is that nobody knows about her past. Not even Maaya or Atsushi. She keeps it to herself, not out of shame, but because she is over it. Arisu doesn’t hold grudges, and she doesn’t dwell on the past, but looks towards the future, and paints it with the bright colors of her choice.
At Norin, she found the place she belonged, and the best friends she could ever have had.

Arisu, high school version. (Official art by Lanny Suhandy)

Arisu, high school version.
(Official art by Lanny Suhandy)

Since she wasn’t supposed to be that much of a main character, I never contemplated enough of this to put it into the story, but I probably would have, if I’d had the chance. On the other hand, the story was complex and roundabout enough as it was. But I truly admire her for her strength, and for her honesty. If there is anything I’d definitely want to change, or rather add in terms of Arisu’s contribution to the story, it has to be how she fades into the background towards the end, after Maaya’s death. I wish she could have sat with the family during the funeral, and I’ve since written her reaction to hearing the news from Atsushi, as well as scenes where the two of them support each other through it, but none of these have been published. If anything, I want to give her justice as a very important character who was developed a little too late, and as a friend who meant the world to Maaya. He definitely benefited from her wacky ideas, and allowed himself to relax his shoulders when urged by his vice-president.

In many ways, I feel she ends up as a kind of comedic side-kick in many scenes, but she really is dependable. I was never able to write it obviously, but she somehow managed to take on the position of student council president for the rest of term, and took the position of valedictorian at graduation.
In many ways, she was stronger than Atsushi, but also more vulnerable, feeling like she didn’t have the right to grieve as deeply, because she’d only known him for three years, as opposed to half a lifetime.
Of course, this is a ridiculous thought, which Atsushi also assures her, but I think she wanted to keep it together for his sake, to be dependable for his sake, because she felt that he needed that.
And it’s probably these qualities that attracted Maaya to her in the first place as well. She has the ability to make her friends forget, and focus on the silly things, but she’s also a cliff when she needs to be, for herself or others.

As far as Aki goes, he’s actually quite fond of her. I wrote a piece about a year ago, about the two of them meeting by chance, and having a snack together. Even as a young teen, Aki was quite aloof, and not very interested in befriending anyone, let alone girls, but no matter how reticent he acted, he wasn’t able to push her away, or dislike her. Maybe he sensed something in her. And she most likely did pick up the same vibe from him that she herself had projected a few years earlier. She adored him for what he did to Maaya, and she admires him for his individuality. In Jaded, she feels a responsibility for him, not only because of his relationship with Maaya, but because she truly does consider him as a friend, regardless of how he might feel about that.

I realized far too late how much I care for this character, so here I am, writing this long ramble so that maybe she can get more of the appreciation I feel she deserves. I’ve gotten to know her a lot better through the many drabbles I’ve written, and also through her appearance in Jaded, and I have a lot more admiration for her now compared to when she first came into existence. I’m glad she developed into a much less static character, and I hope that you guys somehow ended up caring for her as well.
After all, it’s not easy being a girl in a BL story.

Maaya and Arisu at a station. Cosplay by me and my friend, August 2011.

Maaya and Arisu at a station. Cosplay by me and my friend, August 2011.


Almost there..

The other night, I wrote a blog post, added it to drafts…and scrapped the whole thing.

There is something peculiar about the feeling as a release date approaches. As an avid fan of pre-ordering, the final weeks or days for me are mostly spent waiting; an exhausting, agonizing wait with frequent trips to the mail box, hoping that today….

As an author, the same period of time looks a little bit different.

I can’t really recall how I felt before the releases of SNOW and Jaded. I think… With SNOW it was all so sudden, I didn’t have time to prepare. While Jaded was more like finally.

Up until a couple of days ago, I didn’t think much of the release at all. Maybe I’m getting used to doing these kind of events, or maybe it’s just because I am so busy these days, I hardly have time to sit down and think; I mostly find myself running around frantically trying to cram more hours into my day.

But when I sat down and tried to think and feel.. There’s definitely something there.
It’s anticipation, and admittedly, some nerves.
The latter didn’t exactly decrease when I stumbled across a rather cross review. As an author I am prepared for all kinds of opinions; and all books are not for all people. Still, that’s not to say it didn’t hurt. That said, it’s something that’s probably unavoidable, even though I wish I hadn’t come across it only days before a new release.

I’m excited to finally share Love Addict with you, but at the same time it’s kind of terrifying.
It always is.
There’s something really strange about having kept something to yourself for so long, something that has been yours alone for so long, and then allowing people to parttake in it; to read it and form an opinion on it.

I’m excited, but also nervous. Maybe because Love Addict is so different from the other two novels?
But it would be. All my novels are shaped by the characters that parttake in the story. Although Love Addict has the same universe and characters as Jaded, it’s a vastly different story, because Aki and Miya are such different people. The characters’ personalities and traits ultimately shape the narrative and the story.
I find that rather fascinating.

Love Addict was really fun to work on, compared to the struggles I had with Jaded and Aki’s complex nature. Miya is simpler and way more honest, so it was really relieving to write this story.
Hopefully, you will enjoy reading it as well!

Part of me is terrified to let this project go and see it in other people’s hands, but I know how great this is all going to feel tomorrow, when the release event commences.
There’s definitely a peculiar feeling on the night before a release, but I don’t think I’d want to miss out on it. Not at all.

If you’re in Trondheim, don’t hesitate to drop by Outland! I’ll be there signing books from 12:00 pm!
And if you’re on time, you can leave with a bunch of these sexy freebies as well:

A story of true love

Yeah so, we all know how caffeine and authors go hand in hand, or….swim hand in hand?
I can’t do anything without caffeine, despite being slightly hyper sensitive towards it. I usually bucket down when I write in order to stay focused, stay alert and keep the writing going even though it’s like five am and I haven’t slept for a week… That kind of thing, you know?

But to be honest.. I’m not a really big fan of energy drinks. I hate coffee though, so that’s a no-go. Energy drinks are better in that case. But see, let me tell you a sob story from my youth, about losing the love of my life; the only Energy drink I’ve ever loved: Dark Dog. I first had it at 12 – this was before they put an age-restriction on energy drinks. And yeah, that was it. Over the next few years, Dark Dog was my drink of choice, mostly because it tasted nice. But then! (insert dramatic music)
In 2004, Dark Dog was brutally torn from the Norwegian shelves, due to discontinued distribution, and my world was shattered. I ended up drinking pretty much everything else, but nothing could fill the void. Most energy drinks I find are either too sweet, or too….dry? The aftertaste of Battery for instance… can’t stand it.
So then, after dreaming about Norway restocking my love for years, a friend knocked on my door, completely out of the blue, and what did she bring me? For as long as this friend worked in long-distance transport, she kept rebuffing my small stock, straight from Austria. This happened a few times for about a year or so, and then the adventure ended.
Again I was struck with grief, until about two years ago, when another friend sent me an MMS of what I had been seeing in my dreams for years: A pyramid of Dark Dog, at the Ica in Åre, Sweden, where she was currently skiing. This has lead to frequent trips to Sweden made by some very lovely people, picking up trays of energy for me to consume.

Getting reunited with this energy drink did prove my point: there is nothing like Dark Dog. It’s better than any other energy drink, and now, I can’t drink anything else, because the tastes really can’t be compared.
Where I usually drank it during movie nights or concert marathons or whatever, I now also use it for work. Through the editing of SNOW, the writing and editing of Jaded, and pretty much every project I’ve worked on for the last few years, I’ve had this drink as a support crutch and trusted companion. My brain is completely powered by Dark Dog.

(Photo shows the Aftermath of November 2010. )

And so, when Princess Airhead returned from Sweden three weeks ago with the message of doom, my life sorta shattered: Åre are no longer stocking Dark Dog. HOW WILL I LIVE.
Because this is the third time I’ve been torn apart from my source of energy, I reacted in a kind of….not very great way… And after ranting for hours, I sent a letter to Dark Dog (okay, it was an Email, but still), it was very similar to this post here – a kind of love letter, but very much a sob story.
I didn’t expect them to reply. But you see… Dark Dog are awesome like that.
Not only did they assure me that there are other places in Sweden where I can stock up – but they were also very much interested in the work I do as an author, which is amazing to hear.
So anyway, they asked if they could publish parts of my story on their sites, and I agreed because hey, I might be a tad bit crazy (it’s called dedication), but it’s all true.

So today when I got home, I found an e-mail from the company in my inbox, and when I went to facebook, I saw this:
I must say, it does feel pretty awesome to be plugged by a company that means so much to me! Moreover, the Dark Dog staff are SO awesome, and really helpful and I can’t thank them enough for not only actually replying, but also for doing what they can to prevent me from dying from lack of energy, but also for advertising me and my novels like this. Guh, all my feelings.
Thanks Dark Dog! You’re awesome, and I love you!

So yeah, if any of you reading this ever want to give me a present? THIS is what I want okay? If you ever pass by a display of Original Dark Dog cans, please don’t hesitate to pick up some for me.
After all, this is the stuff that novels are made of!

(This has not been a commercial blog post, I’m honestly this crazy about this drink, and I adore the staff for being AWESOME.)

Off to the Capital!

This really is a sad excuse for a blog. My apologies for never updating this thing. Although, I’m sure you get enough of me on all the other sites I spam daily.
As usual, I was intending to post this blog way earlier, but between studying for exams, studying in general, working and trying to have a life, time just didn’t stretch far enough. However, I’m sure you all know that I’ll be in Oslo tomorrow?
I was invited by Kaplah to attend their panel on yaoi and yuri, more specifically the influence of BL and yuri on modern day society, in political, commercial and social situations.
Because I was working on my notes for my mystery exams, I ended up falling behind on everything, and although I do consider myself somewhat an “expert” on BL, my thoughts are very unstructured, so I had to sit down properly and read up on terms, history etc to form a proper text I can refer to during the panel. Honestly, I almost wrote another novel, and I’m sure I can write even more, but the panel is only an hour long, and as of right now, I don’t know how it’ll be structured.
Being a control freak, that makes me slightly nervous. I tend to ramble, so I hope I can keep my cool. Eh. Σ(^∀^;)

Right now my biggest concern is something quite mundane: Clothes. What to wear…?
As many might be aware of, Trondheim still isn’t over winter, and especially in the part of the city where I live we’re still snowed in, more or less. Spring is coming, but very slowly, and yesterday during history class, we had a quick hailstorm. So naturally I have no idea what to wear in what is supposedly a warmer climate. Moreover, as I didn’t have the time to think of cosplay this time around, I kinda want to go all-out visual and have fun with it. But ugh. That wasn’t my point though… I think? I don’t know what to wear on the plane either. I just realize my shirt’s full of metal. I’ll have to change.
Not that it matters. I’ll be indoors all day.  The reason I’m getting into this discussion with myself over my wardrobe though has to do with how I apparently didn’t do any laundry while studying, how all my pantyhose are ripped – and by the way, when they’re made out of such  a fragile material it tears just by wearing it, who decided that placing a piece of cardboard down one leg, which you have to gently wriggle out and most likely tear the thing before you’ve even tried it on, was a good idea?! Packing would be much easier if I didn’t have to go through my drawers and decide which pieces are whole and not. *sigh*

What is this blog entry? I’m so sorry.

I’m a bit nervous regarding tomorrow, as I know there’s a lot of things going on in Oslo. Kaplah doesn’t start until four, but there’s another cosplay event being held about the same time as my signing at outland, so I hope people can still make it!

I’ll be flying in tonight, and coming back home Sunday morning. Somehow I’m still hoping to get time to hang with my friends in Oslo though. How will this even compute? OTL Relaxation is for the weak!

Anyway, if you want to meet me tomorrow, here’s my schedule:

I’ll be at Outland Kirkegata signing books from 13:00-15.30 tomorrow
Kaplah opens at 16:00. Age limit: 18. Tickets can be purchased at the door, but cash only! Bring ID.
The Yaoi/Yuri panel starts at 19:00 in the room called “Lillebil”.

Although I’m kind of nervous about the whole thing, it’s going to be so much fun, and I can’t wait to see everyone! Remember to bring your books if you’d like me to sign them!

Well then, back to packing.