By: Keith Yatsuhashi
Published: April 19th, 2013 by Musa Publishing
Word Count: 109,000
When eighteen-year-old Keiko Yamada’s father dies unexpectedly, he leaves behind a one way ticket to Japan, an unintelligible death poem about powerful Japanese spirits and their gigantic, beast-like Guardians, and the cryptic words: “Go to Japan in my place. Find the Gate. My camera will show you the way.”
Alone and afraid, Keiko travels to Tokyo, determined to fulfill her father’s dying wish. There, beneath glittering neon signs, her father’s death poem comes to life. Ancient spirits spring from the shadows. Chaos envelops the city, and as Keiko flees its burning streets, her guide, the beautiful Yui Akiko, makes a stunning confession--that she, Yui, is one of a handful of spirits left behind to defend the world against the most powerful among them: a once noble spirit now insane.
The Earth itself is at stake, and as Keiko fights to save it, strange, dormant abilities stir within her. She suspects they are vital to her world’s survival, but to summon them, she must first unlock the mysteries within herself and a past shrouded in mystery.
Keiko, a voice said in her head. An awareness followed it— a presence— that she recognized as Yui. You need to do exactly as I say. I’ve raised a shield for protection, but I need to concentrate to maintain it. Stay down and keep out of my way. Do you understand?
“Shield?” Keiko shouted. “What shield? What are you talking about? What’s happening? And how are you talking to me like this? It’s… it’s…” She fished around for the right words and was just about to say “impossible” when a rumbling pulled her eyes to the smoking gash to her left. Fear froze her lips, and only a great effort convinced them to move. “We have to get out of here! We have to get out!”
Another growl echoed throughout the chamber, this one accompanied by an eerie staccato pounding. Keiko’s pulse beat in time with the sound, the two growing louder in her ears. Light bloomed at the tunnel’s mouth, alternating red and yellow, bringing still more heat.
Keiko glanced at the stairs. Too far. The thumping had already reached the tunnel entrance. Smoke stung her eyes, making it hard to see without blinking. It filled her nose, and she recoiled, knowing its source.
She heard the southern passage collapse, the staccato pounding reaching it, growing louder. Slowly, as if invisible hands conspired against her, she looked back as the head of some terrible beast shot into the wrecked and burning station.
Glittering scales of red and gold sparkled through the smoke, vast armored plates that burned with an internal fire. A pair of huge spikes sprouted from the top of its enormous reptilian head, the long, snake-like body behind sporting a series of smaller, razor-sharp spears that began at the base of the creature’s powerful shoulders and tapered toward its whip-like tail.
About the author:
Keith Yatsuhashi was born in 1965 in Boston, MA. He graduated from Northeastern University in 1989 and is currently the Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce Export Assistance Center in Providence, Rhode Island.
Keith was a competitive figure skater for ten years, winning the U.S. National Junior Dance Championships in 1984, a bronze medal in the 1983 World Junior Figure Skating Championships, and a silver medal in 1984.
In addition to his love of writing, Keith enjoys many hobbies such as golf, reading, and playing football and hockey with his sons. Keith currently lives in Norfolk, MA with his wife, Kathleen and three children—Caitlin, Jeffrey, and Justin.
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1. What inspired you to write this book?
When I was a teen, I dabbled at writing but never made it very far, mainly because I didn’t have the skill or patience. In college, no matter the class, my professors routinely commented on how much style my papers had, which made me wonder if I had a talent I didn’t know existed. Then, back in 2003, after the death of my aunt, my father’s last surviving sibling, Kojiki’s story started to grow. I wrote what I thought would be a prologue. That prologue turned into chapter one, then two and so on.
2. What characters do you connect with most?
All of them to some extent. Each one is a part of me and the people closest to me. Keiko and Yui alternate between me and my wife--as do Seirin and Aeryk. Takeshi has a great deal of my father in him. Oddly enough, Seirin’s scenes were the easiest to write. Her character was the first to really come alive. At times, I got so carried away, I had to stop and beef up Aeryk’s character and scenes--give him something heroic to do because she was stealing all his thunder. So to speak.
3. What's your favorite book-turned movie?
Lord of the Rings. I loved the books, and I loved the movies, especially the Director’s cuts. Peter Jackson and his team created everything with such loving detail. They respected the material, and it showed.
4. If you could be best friends with one of your characters, who would it be?
I’d have to choose Keiko. She’s fun and open and easy to get along with. She has an infectious optimism about her and always looks on the bright side of things. Don’t let that fool you, though. She’s tough and strong too. She’s not afraid to tell you what for when she thinks you’re wrong about something.
5. Can you tell us about any other books you're writing?
I’m writing a follow up to Kojiki. It’s not a pure sequel. I feel strongly that Kojiki’s primary characters completed their journeys. Only one didn’t find closure. I’m focusing on that one and hoping to build a story there. It’s a bit of a risk moving from characters readers come to like and want to see again, but I can’t come up with a good enough encore for them. In Kojiki, they face the worst--add whatever superlative you like. How can I convincingly give them another conflict anywhere near as dire? If I can’t, then I shouldn’t.
6. What do you do in your spare time?
Golf, read, play with the kids. Drive them around. Shrug. Family stuff :)
7. Who's your inspiration?
My wife. She dazzles me.
8. If you were stranded on a desert island which character do you want by your side?
Seirin, Queen of the Oceans. It’s an island, right. Who better than a Spirit who controls the seas and can make sure I get home safely.
9. Team Edward or Jacob?
Who? Just kidding. I haven’t read Twilight. I HAVE seen the movies.
10. Team Peeta or Gale?
Hard not to pull for the guy who’s smitten over the one who has his own agenda. Plus, Peeta is in so many more scenes. We know more about him. Of course, this only works if you think being with Katniss is a good thing.