Author Spotlight: JUAN TAKAI (Translated by Toshiya Kamei)

 

Hi everyone, today’s Author Spotlight has been kindly translated by a wonderful supporter of our projects, Toshiya Kamei. He translated about 15 of the drabbles in our latest anthology (see below) and has introduced many new contributors to Insignia Stories. He’s a star!

Enjoy the interview,

~Kelly~

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We are pleased to introduce Juan Takai, who has contributed the following three pieces to Japanese Fantasy Drabbles: “The Inevitable End,” “One Day at Takamagahara,” and “Nuclear Life.”

Here’s his write-up on the anthology (in Japanese): https://hametuha.com/news/article/45306/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Juan Takai was born in 1994 in Saitama to a Japanese father and a Paraguayan mother. Since high school, he has engaged in anti-establishment, anti-censorship activism. A regular contributor to the literary magazine Hametuha, he published Konketsu terror and Tenran konketsu under the name Juan B. He is the author of Senzen fukei hatsugen taizen and Senzen hansen hatsugen taizen, which collect anti-emperor and anti-war sentiments of ordinary citizens in pre-war Japan. Most recently, he authored the YA fantasy chapbook Kinō no mura. He’s on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GreatJuanism

TWENTY-FIVE QUESTIONS

1. Author Name/s: Juan Takai (a.k.a. Juan B.)
2. Years active as a writer: Approximately 8 years
3. What genre/s you write: My recurrent themes include miscegenation in Japan and politics. My favorite genres are science fiction and comedy
4. Favorite genre to write: Many of my recent short stories contain sci-fi elements.
5. Favorite length of story to write: I like short stories, up to 20,000 characters in Japanese.
6. Your nationality: Alas, Japanese . . .
7. Country you live in: Japan, in spite of it all.
8. Number of Asian countries visited: Only Japan, unless Tokyo Disneyland counts as another.
9. Favorite Asian country (visited): See my answer above.
10. Favorite places in Asia (visited): Shinjuku, Akihabara, Kawagoe, Morioka, and Ōizumi-machi (Gunma), among others.
11. Places you want to visit in Asia: China, the Korean Peninsula, India
12. Favorite Asian cuisine: Chinese
13. Favorite Asian dishes: Sushi, fried rice, grilled unagi
14. Favorite Asian movies (any genre): The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1987), Akira (1988)
15. Favorite Asian authors (any genre): Among my favorite authors are Shūsaku Endō and Kenzaburō Ōe. My favorite mangakas include Takashi Nemoto and Katsuhiro Otomo, the creator of Akira.
16. Favorite Asian celebrities: My heroes tend to be anarchists: Kenzo Okuzaki (1920-2005), Pak Yol (1902-1974), and Fumiko Kaneko (1903-1926).
17. Best thing about being a writer: Writers, especially minorities, gain the opportunity to create traces of our existence and thoughts that will live on in this world after we are gone.
18. Worst thing about being a writer: Inextricably related to the previous question, we increasingly tend to become involved in events and incidents that may not personally concern us.
19. Day writer or night writer: I prefer to write at night, even though it may cause inconvenience to many people, especially those living with me.
20. Drink and snack of choice (while writing): Who can resist the guilty pleasure of gobbling a bag of potato chips? Admittedly, I have a weakness for artery-clogging junk food. I struggle at times with my cravings for Funyuns, but, alas, it’s no longer available in Japan.
21. Number of short stories submitted each month (av): For now, I can handle only a few short pieces. After working on a pair of tomes totaling 1,200 pages in the last few years, I need to recharge my creative batteries.
22. I dream to be published with/in (publisher/publication): Publib and Tokyo Kirara are so great to work with. I’d also love to work with large publishers such as Iwanami, Kodansha, and, someday, Penguin Books. One can only hope . . .
23. Most active on (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram): Twitter (@GreatJuanism)
24. Self-published, traditionally published, or both: I’ve had experience with both.
25. Currently working on: I’m juggling multiple works-in-progress. Here’s my small but growing portfolio, short stories translated by Toshiya Kamei:

“Desde un país sin gafas” (in Spanish):
https://www.nagarimagazine.com/desde-un-pais-sin-gafas-juan-takai-traduccion-de-toshiya-kamei/

“A Country with No Glasses”: https://acrossthemargin.com/a-country-with-no-glasses/

“Planet Ape”: https://acrossthemargin.com/planet-ape/

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ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR 

Toshiya Kamei holds an MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Arkansas. His translations of Latin American literature include books by Claudia Apablaza, Liliana Blum, Carlos Bortoni, Selfa Chew, and Leticia Luna.

He has translated stories in Insignia: Asian Fiction & Poetry, Japanese Fantasy Drabbles, and the upcoming Southeast Asian Fantasy Drabbles.

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Japanese Fantasy Drabbles is out now! 

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Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/bzo9kj

The cover is also in All Authors’ Monthly Cover Contest. We’d appreciate your vote! (Link goes to the voting page).

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Southeast Asian Fantasy Drabbles is open too. Get your drabbles in by June 15!

Details on the Submissions Page. 

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STAY SAFE…STAY HOME…READ ALL THE BOOKS!!!

 

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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Excerpt: ‘The Drowning Pool’ by Vonnie Winslow Crist

‘The Drowning Pool’ is a lovely mix of science fiction and fantasy, with Indian cultural elements. It a flash piece, so the excerpt is just a small tease….

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‘The Drowning Pool’ by Vonnie Winslow Crist

Excerpt:

The swimming pool on the Chandra Estate in New Thoothukudi was shaped like a coffin. From local historical records, Darshan knew this had not been the case when the pool was first constructed on Mars in the twenty-third century. Then, it had been oval in shape, and the centerpiece of an elaborate garden. But that was prior to Lalita’s drowning.

The facility manager stood on a slope of well-manicured grass and contemplated the pool. Mango and arjuna trees, genetically modified to fit the terra-formed planet’s climate and trimmed to near-perfection, and jasmine, bred to bloom year-round, surrounded the pool’s patio. Wrought metal chairs circling form-stone tables with decorative umbrellas poking out from their centers were positioned around the pool awaiting the wedding reception guests. Bathed in the glow of solar lamps and the scant moonlight of Phobos, the scene beneath the environs-dome was postcard beautiful, except for Lalita’s ghost perched on the edge of the pool.

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Vonnie Winslow Crist’s Author Page

Insignia: Asian Science Fiction Page

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Excerpt: ‘Towards the Light’ by Aislinn Batstone

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This story, Towards the Light, was kind of my inspiration for the Insignia anthology. I often write Japanese stories, and was excited when my critique partner and friend, Aislinn Batstone, wrote this cool sci-fi/literary story set in Japan. I didn’t want anyone else to publish it! So I twisted the arms of a few other writers I knew with an interest in Japan and/or diverse fiction, and here we are with a little book together. 🙂

Aislinn is a great short story writer and always has interesting themes in her stories. I hope you enjoy this excerpt from Towards the Light.

Towards the Light

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 “Why are you always so clumsy?” Kimiya’s father had retrieved a crumpled piece of paper that had dropped on the floor from his school bag. Kimiya hung his head. That had once been an intricate origami toy. He’d disappointed his father again. Sometimes Kimiya made his father laugh, but not nearly as often as he made him yell by dropping things, breaking things, serving cold tea or putting holes in expensive tatami flooring. It was just the way he was. His cousin Yoshi seemed like a better son in every way.

Kimiya and Yoshi had two things in common: their age, fourteen, and the fact that they had each lost their mother. Otherwise, they couldn’t have been more different. Yoshi liked to go to the factory with Kawaguchi and watch the pods being put together. He got on well with the factory workers and Kimiya’s father took him seriously. Yoshi was some kind of genius when it came to engineering and he was already lined up for an apprenticeship at Nippoddu when he left school.

Kimiya couldn’t care less about pod technology. As long as you got where you wanted to go, who cared how you got there? He enjoyed seeing his dad excited about ‘technological innovations’ and ‘internal design features’ but after a while he always started daydreaming. If he ever saw a pod crash he might rescue a pretty girl, maybe Reiko from school. She’d look at him with those deep brown eyes, and maybe they would kiss. When he asked his dad if the pods ever crashed, his dad proudly said, “No. The navigational technology is far too sophisticated.”

Kawaguchi took the boys to the factory every Friday afternoon after school. Yoshi was picking up more and more understanding of the design and manufacture of pods. Kimiya didn’t understand how pods stayed up in the air, but he loved to stay up late and watch them from the apartment windows. They glided so fast that their red and blue light trails crisscrossed the night.

Before long Yoshi was given his own project working on Nippoddu’s patented interior surround sound system. He attended meetings every other week with senior members of company management. Kimiya’s future was uncertain. He loved art but he found technical drawing so boring that even his greatest pleasure had become a way to disappoint his father.

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 Aislinn Batstone was exposed to Japanese culture and language early by her mother, a Japanese language teacher, and lived in Japan for a year as a teenager. She left with some understanding of the distinctly Japanese aesthetic and worldview.

Aislinn’s short fiction has been published around the world and web including by the Stringybark Stories series in Australia, Five Stop Story in the UK, and with Plan B Mystery magazine in the USA. She publishes romantic fiction with supernatural elements under the pen name Aislinn Gilbert.

Aislinn lives in Sydney with her husband and two young children.

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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

Kitsune by Heather Jensen

Moon Shadow by Kelly Matsuura

Sanctuary by Chris White