Author Spotlight: EISUKE AIKAWA

 

It’s my honor to introduce Eisuke Aikawa, contributor to our newly-released anthology, Japanese Fantasy Drabbles.

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Born in Chiba in 1977, Eisuke Aikawa is a writer based in Fukuoka. He has published two collections of short stories, Hiking (2017) and Kumo wo hanareta tsuki (2018). His short fiction has appeared in venues such as Bungakukai, Hidden Authors, and Taberu no ga osoi. His most recent book is the novel Hannah no inai jugatsu wa (2020).

Twitter: @Aikawa_Eisuke

SHORT QUESTIONS

1. Author Name: Eisuke Aikawa
2. Years active as a writer: Approximately 14 years
3. What genre/s you write: Literary fiction, fantasy, mystery, and science fiction
4. Your nationality: Japanese
5. Country you live in: Japan
6. Favorite Asian country (visited): Thailand
7. Favorite place in Asia: Tokyo
8. Place (city or country) you most want to visit in Asia: Mongolian Plateau
9. Favorite Asian cuisine: Indonesian
10. Favorite Asian dish: Nasi goreng
11. Favorite Asian movie (any genre): 3 Idiots (Bollywood)
12. Best thing about being a writer: Writing is always fun.
13. Worst thing about being a writer: Writing is always hard.
14. Day writer or night writer: I write in the morning.
15. Drink and snack of choice (while writing): I don’t eat or drink while I’m writing.
16. Most active on (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram): Twitter (@Aikawa_Eisuke)
17. Currently working on: Doing research for my future projects and promoting my new book Hannah no inai jugatsu wa.

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Stories Included in the Insignia Drabbles Anthologies:

‘Afternoon Chat’ and ‘Their Magic’, translated by Toshiya Kamei (Japanese Fantasy Drabbles, April 2020)

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Want to join the drabble fun? Our next call opens May 1st!

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Full details are on our Submissions Page.

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HAPPY RELEASE DAY!! ‘Japanese Fantasy Drabbles’ is OUT NOW!!

 

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CONGRATULATIONS  to all the authors who provided the incredible stories for this collection! It was so much fun to collaborate with past Insignia Series contributors as well as many new international writers.

And SPECIAL THANKS to Toshiya Kamei, who translated about 15 of drabbles for this book. He’s an INSIGNIA STAR! 

JAPANESE FANASY DRABBLES ( Insignia Drabbles Vol.1.) 

This anthology includes 79 drabbles (100-word stories) inspired by Japanese folklore and yôkai tales, as well as original fantasy and science fiction pieces.

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All Contributors:

Amy Clare Fontaine – A.S. Charly – Bayveen O’Connell – Beth W. Patterson
Carmen Indalecio – Charles Reis – Charles Venable – Christine Richmond – D.J. Tyrer
Eisuke Aikawa – Emma K. Leadley – Heather Ewings – Jacek Wilkos – J.M. Wong
Joel R. Hunt – John H. Dromey – Joyce Chng – Juan Takai – K.B. Elijah
Kelly Matsuura – Kimberly Rei – Kyosuke Higuchi – Malena Salazar Maciá
Massimo Soumaré – Mina Ikemoto – Monica Schultz – N.M. Brown – Natsumi Tanaka
Rich Rurshell – Russell Hemmell – Sheenah Freitas – S.J. Fujimoto – Stephen Christie
Steve Stred – ToJo – Toshiya Kamei (Translator) – Vonnie Winslow Crist – Zoey Xolton

*A full list of contributors with their author links is on the JFD Book Page.
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AVAILABLE NOW!!!

|Amazon US | Amazon AUS | Amazon UK | Amazon JP |

| Apple iBooks | Rakuten Kobo |

UNIVERSAL LINK: books2read/insigniadrabbles1

*More store links will be added to the main book page when available

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Missed out submitting to JFD? No worries, we have new calls opening soon! 

Southeast Asian Fantasy Drabbles (Insignia Drabbles Vol.2.) opens May 1st! See the Submissions Page for details.

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Pre-order ‘Japanese Fantasy Drabbles’!

The Kindle pre-order link for ‘Japanese Fantasy Drabbles’ is now live! 

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Releasing on April 16th, this anthology features 80 drabbles (100-word stories) inspired by Japanese folklore and yokai tales, as well as original fantasy and science fiction pieces.

CONTRIBUTORS:
Amy Clare Fontaine – A.S. Charly – Bayveen O’Connell – Beth W. Patterson
Carmen Indalecio – Charles Reis – Charles Venable – Christine Richmond – D.J. Tyrer
Eisuke Aikawa – Emma K. Leadley – Heather Ewings – Jacek Wilkos – J.M. Wong
Joel R. Hunt – John H. Dromey – Joyce Chng – Juan Takai – K.B. Elijah
Kelly Matsuura – Kimberly Rei – Kyosuke Higuchi – Malena Salazar Maciá
Massimo Soumaré – Mina Ikemoto – Monica Schultz – N.M. Brown – Natsumi Tanaka
Rich Rurshell – Russell Hemmell – Sheenah Freitas – S.J. Fujimoto – Stephen Christie
Steve Stred – ToJo – Toshiya Kamei (Translator) – Vonnie Winslow Crist – Zoey Xolton
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Order ‘Japanese Fantasy Drabbles’ now for just US.99c!

Amazon UKAmazon AUSAmazon JP

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Cover Reveal! ‘Japanese Fantasy Drabbles’ (Insignia Drabbles #1)

 

Happy New Year, everyone!

I’m very excited to share the cover for our upcoming anthology: Japanese Fantasy Drabbles. It is the first planned release in the new Insignia Drabbles series. I haven’t decided the release date yet, but it will likely be mid-February.

For now, enjoy the cover!

~Kelly Matsuura~

 

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This anthology includes 80 drabbles (100-word stories) inspired by Japanese folklore and yōkai tales, as well as original fantasy and science fiction pieces. You’ll find wicked cats and dragons; ghosts and monsters; spaceships and time travelers; and much more. This collection has it all!

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Author Spotlight: HEATHER EWINGS

Next in our Author Spotlight series is one of Insignia’s original contributors, Heather Ewings!

Heather Jensen

Heather Ewings (whose story Kitsune was published in Insignia Vol. 1 under the name Heather Jensen) is an Australian author of speculative fiction. She has a MA in History, and a fascination with myth and folklore.

Aside from Insignia, Heather’s work has been published in Asymmetry Fiction, and Lite Lit One, and in 2018 her novella ‘What the Tide Brings’ was included as part of The People’s Library project, in Tasmania, Australia.

Heather studied the Japanese language throughout high school and university, and in Grade Ten visited the country in a whirlwind 12-day trip that took in everything from the temples of Kyoto to the ‘hells’ in Beppu, and so much in between.

You can find her online at heatherewings.com or on Facebook.

TWENTY QUESTIONS

  1. Author Name/s: Heather Ewings (have also written as Heather Jensen)
  2. Years active as a writer: 8
  3. What genre/s you write: mostly speculative fiction
  4. Favorite genre to write: fantasy
  5. Favorite length of story to write: novella, or flash fiction!!
  6. Your nationality: Australian
  7. Number of Asian countries visited: 1
  8. Favorite Asian country (visited): Japan
  9. Favorite place in Asia (visited): I loved Beppu!
  10. Favorite Asian dish: oyakodon, or maybe sukiyaki, or sushi,
  11. Favorite Asian movie (any genre): Love Letter
  12. Favorite Asian book (any genre): The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
  13. Best thing about being a writer: the freedom to write whenever and wherever
  14. Worst thing about being a writer: the nerves from pitching to publishers…
  15. Day writer or night writer: I much prefer the night.
  16. Drink and snack of choice (while writing): chocolate, and water
  17. Number of short stories/poems submitted each month (av): 4
  18. I dream to be published with/in (publisher/publication): Tricky! Daily Science Fiction, and Flash Fiction Online are a few at the top of my list.
  19. Most active on (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram): Facebook, though I’m not very active there are the moment.
  20. Currently working on: A sort-of urban fantasy novella

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COMING SOON:

Heather has a story in the upcoming anthology, Fire and Brimstone: A Demonic Compendium of the Wicked, Fallen and Accursed from Specul8 Publishing.

Pre-order information is here

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Heather’s stories included in The Insignia Series Anthologies:

‘Kitsune’ (Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories)

TBA title/s in Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Drabbles (Coming 2020)

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Interested in publishing with us? We are now open for poetry submissions to a new online series, Insignia: Instincts. See full details on the Submissions (Poetry) Page.

We’ll also have an open anthology call for  Japanese Fantasy Drabbles here!

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Excerpt: ‘The Star Ball’ by Amy Fontaine

 

The second story I’d like to share tonight from Insignia: Asian Birds & Beasts is by a new contributor, Amy Fontaine.

Amy’s story is a fun adventure about a Japanese boy who meets a mischievous kitsune (fox-shifter).

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‘The Star Ball’ by Amy Fontaine

Excerpt:

Koki’s mother had been tired when she came home from work earlier tonight. Tired, and distracted. After feeding Koki, she had slouched off to bed and forgotten to lock the inside lock on the back door. Koki noticed. Koki notices things.

Now Koki puts on his slippers, slips on a jacket over his pajamas, and tiptoes out of his room and down the stairs. He opens the back door of his apartment and sneaks off into the night.

The apartment is in a very modest neighborhood in the Northern Higashiyama area of Kyoto, but only a few blocks away is a beautiful park. A cobbled path lined with cherry trees and paper lanterns leads through lush ornamental plants to a red, arched bridge across a stream. The bridge leads to a tea house and a pagoda that stands beside it. During the day, Koki loves to come to this park with his mother, but he has never been here at night.

Koki starts crawling under bushes, turning over rock after rock and catching beetle after beetle. He squeals, a sound that seems more fitting of a five-year-old or a puppy than a ten-year-old. As he crawls under the last bush on the left before the red bridge, Koki’s eyes are suddenly met by a bright, piercing white-gold light. Koki yelps and scrambles backwards out of the bush, hearing a corresponding yelp of surprise and terror as he does so. When his vision clears, he sees a four-tailed golden fox standing before him, growling. Beetle legs hang from her mouth.

“What are you doing here, little runt?” hisses the fox, in a voice that isn’t quite real. “This is my territory, and these are my beetles! You have no right to hunt here, human!”

Koki bows to the fox. “I am sorry, honorable fox.”

The vixen bursts into peals of laughter that sound like tinkling bells.

“Honorable?” the fox scoffs. “You know nothing of kitsune, do you?”

In response, Koki begins to recite the natural history of the red fox. He sounds like an encyclopedia. The fox growls and shakes her head.

“You believe everything they tell you in science books, don’t you? Foolish boy. The things those books have told you to be false are the ones that are most important.”

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Amy Fontaine is a wildlife biologist who writes wild speculative fiction and poetry. Her first novel, Mist, is a young adult fantasy about shapeshifters, elemental magic, and being the change you wish to see in the world. She is currently writing an interactive novel inspired by Japanese kitsune folklore for Choice of Games. You can find her published work at https://amyfontaine.wordpress.com.

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AVAILABLE FROM:

| Smashwords | B & N | kobo |

| Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA |

| Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon ES |

| Amazon IT | Amazon NL | Amazon JP | Amazon BR |

| Amazon MX | Amazon IN |

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Add on Goodreads

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HAPPY RELEASE DAY! ‘Insignia: Asian Birds & Beasts’ (Vol. 6.)

Cheers to our second anthology release this summer! In this volume you’ll find an array of animal shifters, magical creatures, gods, and spirits. Story settings include: India, Japan, Cambodia, China, and outer-space!

ASIAN BIRDS & BEASTS

INSIGNIA VOL. 6. includes 8 short stories with Asian characters, settings, and magical creatures.

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CONTENTS

‘Reborn’ by Nidhi Singh

‘The Star Ball’ by Amy Fontaine

‘Raising Words’ by Stewart C. Baker

‘Apsaras’ Dance’ by Kelly Matsuura

‘We, the Ravens of Bai Gao Lou’ by Russell Hemmell

‘The Azure Dragon’ by Lorraine Schein

‘The Churail and the Crow’ by Keyan Bowes

‘Vermillion Nights’ by Joyce Chng

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AVAILABLE FROM:

| Smashwords | B & N | kobo |

| Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA |

| Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon ES |

| Amazon IT | Amazon NL | Amazon JP | Amazon BR |

| Amazon MX | Amazon IN |

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Add on Goodreads

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Interested in writing for us? A new submission call opens on September 1st! See our Submissions Page for full details.

 

Book of the Week: ‘Best Served Chilled’ by Zoe Adams

This week’s book is Best Served Chilled by Zoe Adams, published by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing. It’s a short horror novella featuring a Japanese alcohol demon. There’s a follow-up story, Best Consumed Within, which I happened to read first, lol! It was a bit confusing, so I recommend you read them in order.

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I love this cover 😀

Blurb:

“What would you give to make it stop?”

Life hasn’t been easy for Hiraku Michiyo. Struggling with the misery that dwells in her past and her present, she’s spending more time with a wine glass than real friends. One night, she meets the charismatic, Shoichi. Intrigued and a little frightened, she invites him home. Yet little does she realise that the real horrors are just beginning. And escape is certainly not at the bottom of any bottle.

| Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AUS | Goodreads |

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Have you read any good fantasy stories or novels with Asian characters and/or myths? I’d happy to feature them here on the Insignia Series blog one week. Indie authors and publishers are also welcome to recommend their books. Leave a comment below, or email me (Kelly) at: blackwingsandwhitepaper(at)hotmail.com

See you next week 😀

Excerpt: ‘Sanctuary’ by Chris White

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Chris White’s story, Sanctuary, was a last-minute submission to the Insignia anthology, and rounded out the literary section perfectly. I didn’t know Chris previously, so it was great to find another author who had lived in Japan and knew the culture well. And, by chance, he’s also an Aussie, so he’s in good company with several other Insignia authors. 😀

Sanctuary

A temple stood, surrounded by the blank yellow windows. The wind there touched the red cloaks of the jizou. Illuminated by the soft glow of a bank of vending machines.

An ancient wooden house still stood, opposite the bone-orchard. A single light burned.

The curtain hanging over the door announced a neighbourhood sentou. Another tanuki announced the presence of beer inside.

I walked in.

The rough-canvas banner scratched at my face as I crossed the threshold, like a half-remembered dream. Or an ignored warning. Something to be brushed aside, at any rate. The shoji door groaned, protesting as I forced it open, shuddering into place. Torn and faded, its screens were marked with a peculiar circular pattern. I stepped inside, away from the claws of the wind and into the bathhouse foyer. Metal locker doors creaked, yawning wide, propped open by wild-filigreed scaffolds of rust. A murmur rose, floating through the darkness from somewhere within, and the electric light I had seen from outside drew me onward. As did the tanuki’s winking, alcoholic promise. The bell on the reception desk chimed on my second attempt, awkward and hollow, like the nothing words we sprinkle through our sentences–um, ah, eto

The murmuring stopped.

Sumimasen,” inaudible. I had almost whispered it. I cleared my throat to try again, setting a tempest of dust-motes to dance in the dull-red Coca-Cola glow that crept through the windows.

Sumimasen?”

Louder this time.

Only my echo replied, bouncing back at me from the cavernous bathing-hall that hid somewhere ahead of me, somewhere in the darkness. Now, I knew this was the point when I should have turned away, the moment when I should have shuffled back out onto the street and resumed my nocturnal wanderings. The streets called to me in the night, they begged me to walk them, to see what once was. But there was something about urban ruins that inspired me, that drew me in. A sense, perhaps, that the past is here, lingering alongside the future. And there was that electric light burning somewhere inside. I pressed on, and the shadows pressed in around me, swallowing up the song of the city outside. Another reason to press on–to hear that monster’s roar consumed by this relic of the past.

~*~

Chris White is a writer, of many genres, but mostly science fiction and magic realism. He grew up in Japan, and keeps finding Tokyo and its monsters showing up in his stories. He dabbles in drabbles, too, and you can find more of his words online at: http://chriswhitewrites.com

~*~

Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories is now available from:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon JP

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

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Add on Goodreads

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Read More Excerpts

Megumi’s Quest by Joyce Chng

The Bakeneko by Holly Kench

Restoration by Chris Ward

Towards the Light by Aislinn Batstone

Moon Shadow by Kelly Matsuura

Kitsune by Heather Jensen

Excerpt: ‘Kitsune’ by Heather Jensen

InsigniaVol1-Cover-7AWhat is a kitsune? In Japanese folklore, it is a fox that shape-shifts into human form and causes all kinds of mischief. I felt like a kitsune story was a must for this anthology, so was very excited when Heather Jensen told me that’s what she wanted to write about. Her story, simply titled Kitsune, is first up in the Insignia anthology and is a great introduction to the other varied stories.

Kitsune

Akio carried the tiny mouse in his hands as he hurried home. It seemed to be dehydrated; listless and weak, it had barely moved when he approached to pick it up. A movement caught Akio’s eye and he glanced up in time to see a shadow disappear between two trees.

He called after it. “Help, please, do you have a little water?”

The shadow hesitated, and Akio took a step closer. “Please, this little creature has been injured. She needs water. My flask is empty and it is a distance to my home. Please.”

The shadow emerged from the trees, revealing a tall thin figure, dark hair and pale skin barely showing beneath the scarf wrapped around her face. She pulled out her flask and allowed a few drops to fall into Akio’s outstretched palm.

“Thank you,” Akio said. “I am Akio.”

“Chiaki.” The young woman pulled the scarf away from her face and peered down at the little mouse. It shivered as it drank from Akio’s hand, and she pulled a handkerchief from her pocket, folded it in two and placed it over the poor little creature.

“Do you often save the lives of small things?” Chiaki asked.

Akio laughed. “Only when the opportunity comes my way,” he said. “After all, if the larger creatures of the world cannot take care of the smaller, what use are we?” His thoughts turned to Sachiko, a lump forming in his throat as sorrow threatened to overwhelm him.

“Are you alright?” Chiaki noticed.

Akio began to nod his head then stopped.

“No,” he said. “I lost a dear friend yesterday.”

“I’m sorry to hear it,” Chiaki said. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Akio looked at Chiaki. He did want to talk about it. He wanted to talk of Sachiko’s laugh, of the smile that lit up her eyes, and the gentle kiss she’d placed on his cheek the day before she’d died. But how did you tell someone you’d fallen in love with a creature from a folktale?

He shook his head, not trusting his voice.

“I understand,” Chiaki said.

Akio had to stop himself from shaking his head again. Chiaki couldn’t possibly understand! There was so much that was wrong. The guilt he felt, that he’d been meeting Sachiko in the woods when he was supposed to be helping his father on the farm. And then yesterday he’d stayed behind to help his father when he should have been meeting Sachiko. There’d been a fox amongst his father’s chickens again. It hadn’t harmed the chickens, but it had stolen most of the eggs, and Father needed Akio’s help to prevent it happening in the future.

Sachiko must have come to the farm to look for him. She’d never done that before, it had been an unspoken agreement that they did not seek out the truth of each others lives. It made their meeting in the forest something special, sacred. He didn’t know why she’d come this time.

Akio hadn’t seen her, but his father must have. He pushed the thought away. When Akio had finally found Sachiko, curled up under the great tree, he thought she was napping. And then he’d got closer and seen the bushy red tail and the soft pointed ears. When he’d pulled on her shoulder she’d rolled back onto his lap and he’d gasped in horror as he saw her face, Sachiko’s beautiful face, with a pointed snout and a wet black nose in the centre of it. She was kitsune, a fox spirit, messenger of the Great Spirit Inari.

And she was dead.

~*~

Heather Jensen studied the Japanese language for 8 years, through high school, college, and university, taking up the opportunity to visit the country on a two-week jam-packed school trip where she managed to squeeze in sights as varied as the Temples of Kyoto, ’Jigoku’ (Hell’s) Hot Springs in Beppu and Tokyo Disneyland.

Though her preferred genres are fantasy and historical fiction, Heather writes stories in a wide variety of genres: romance, YA, and contemporary to name a few. Her stories have been published in many different places around the web, including 1000words.org, and Five Stop Story, a UK writing competition where two of her stories received Honorary Mentions. Her story Saviour was short-listed in the Ink Tears 2012 Flash Fiction competition.

Heather lives in Tasmania, Australia, with her partner and two children. You can find her on Facebook or at: heatherjensenauthor.com

~*~

Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories is now available from:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon JP

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

~*~

Add on Goodreads

~*~

Read More Excerpts

Megumi’s Quest by Joyce Chng

The Bakeneko by Holly Kench

Restoration by Chris Ward

Towards the Light by Aislinn Batstone

Moon Shadow by Kelly Matsuura

Sanctuary by Chris White