Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Tarot Cafe Novel: FAQ

Today is the day that The Wild Hunt ships from Amazon.com, despite that the release date I was given was the 13th. Wondering why things ship a week before they're "released" is just one of the many questions I find myself asking regarding this publishing experience.

I've noticed, thanks to the interviews I've been doing, that similar themes tend to appear in the questions. In honor of the shipping-but-not-released day, here's the answers gathered into one place. For an added bonus, there's questions not asked... despite that they should be.

Q: What is The Tarot Cafe? Can you introduce it to readers who aren't familiar with the series?

A: Your best introduction is to read The Wild Hunt, which was specifically written to welcome new readers to the universe without alienating existing fans.

Briefly, The Tarot Cafe is a seven volume manhwa (Korean comic) by Sang Sun Park released in English by TOKYOPOP. While Park occasionally has light-hearted stories, the series is best described as a dark paranormal romance. It follows Pamela, an immortal tarot card reader and proprietress of the Tarot Cafe in contemporary London. During the day, Pamela assists people through her accurate readings and at night she helps her Midnight Visitors—all sorts of paranormal beasties in need of guidance. Over the series, we see Pamela's tangled, tragic past unfold.

Wiki it.

Q: What is a Light Novel? Is it a Japanese genre?

Only in the sense that "young adult" is an English genre—meaning it's a broad category that contains many genres like fantasy, sci fi, mystery, horror, romance. What these books share is a general length and a target audience of teens and people in their early twenties. They're often illustrated. (The light novels, not the people.) Although TOKYOPOP released Goth by Otsu-ichi, which won Japan's Honkaku Mystery Prize, as a light novel and you'll find people who insist it isn't one.

Wiki it.

When someone calls The Wild Hunt a light novel, they do so because that's the terminology they recognize. I call it a tie-in or a companion novel, because that's the terminology I recognize.

Q: How much approval did Park have on The Wild Hunt?

A: Park approved a translation of the outline, as well as a translation of a sample chapter. (An early version of Chapter Two.) It may not seem like a lot, but the outline governed the final text and the sample chapter governed the narrative voice. She approved both—and from what I was told, her comments suggested she trusted our ability to do a good job.

Q: How did you get the job?

A: In late August 2007, Jenna Winterberg—the then Senior Prose Editor—contacted me via email stating TOKYOPOP was looking to hire fiction writers for various prose projects and she wanted to know if I was interested. Apparently, she'd stumbled across this blog and that was how I came to her attention. Being an amateur Tarot reader gave me a understanding of the cards that she believed necessary. Plus, she felt the sample that I did for her accurately captured the tone and narrative voice she wanted for The Tarot Cafe Novel.

Q: What was the best part of working with an established universe?

A: Knowing what you've written already has a fanbase who wants to read it.

Q: What was the most difficult part of working with an establish universe?

A: Understanding that what you've written doesn't belong to you and your preferences/kinks bowed to the conventions of the source material.

Q: What was it like to work with TOKYOPOP?

A: I thoroughly enjoyed working with Jenna Winterberg. She was able to balance hand-holding when it was necessary with the tough love when she knew I was capable of more. Plus, she knows the world and its fans far better than I do.

Q: Why does the synopsis call the main character "Bryn McMillian" when her name is "Bryn McCallister" in the novel?

A: In the original concept statement, which I believe is what marketing has been using as the synopsis, the character's name was Brynn McMillian. It was changed shortly after to Bryn McCallister because I preferred the way the name read.

Q: Is it true you don't like Bryn?

Oh, I like her well enough. The difficulty with Bryn's character is that the decision she makes in the novel is unquestioningly the decision she would. It's not, however, the decision I think she should.

Q: What other series would you like to work on?

D.N.Angel by Yukiru Sugisaki or Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle by CLAMP—although I admit being intimated by the idea of working on a CLAMP title. More realistically, I'd love to do either a Pushing Daisies or Doctor Who tie-in. I realize they don't do Pushing Daisies tie-ins, but they really should.

Q: I've heard/read/been told that you were hired to write The Tarot Cafe Novel series. When is the second book coming out?

A: At the moment, The Wild Hunt is the only volume I have been contracted to complete. While I've expressed both an eagerness and availability to work with TOKYOPOP again on additional volumes, the decision is ultimately not mine to make.

Q: If you aren't writing a follow-up to The Wild Hunt, then what are you working on?

I have two personal projects on the go. One is an adult mythic realism series adapting Japanese fox and western fae lore in a contemporary Canadian setting. Closer in scope to Charles De Lint’s Newford tales than Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. The first book, THE TALE OF ARIAKE, is out on submission.

The other project is a yet-to-be-titled young adult series. Most of the time I refer to it as “the Valentine thing.” It evolved from a reaction to the careful attention to realistic contemporary settings for both THE TALE OF ARIAKE and The Wild Hunt. So the Valentine Thing is far-future speculative mashing up magic and science.

The influences for it are largely the manic tone and adventurous plots of the new Doctor Who series with various reoccurring fantasy and technological elements of anime and manga. Which is a mildly pretentious way of saying no one time travels but there is a great deal of running and CLAMP-like magic circles. Plus a handsome young god with a baseball bat fighting gas-mask wearing monsters that come out of mirrors and kidnap the main protagonist’s best friend.

1 comment:

Leigh said...

Whoo-hoo! Yay Chandra! I'm so excited for you! I loved these answers - very informative, especially for those of us who aren't familiar with the genre.