September 21, 2015
I just got my copy of Hanzai Japan, an anthology of crime stories about and/or set in Japan, due out from Haikasoru next month. It’s available for preorder from most of the usual outlets I think.
You might be thinking, “Huh, Carrie, this is not your usual sort of stomping grounds.” And you would be right. When one of the co-editors contacted me about writing a story for it, my first response was, “I’m not sure I know anything to be able to write a story for this.” My second was, “Heck sure, I like a challenge!”
So, for those interested in process, how does one set about writing a story for a theme anthology that seems intriguing and is far outside your comfort zone? Here’s how I did it.
First, I made a list of things I would absolutely not write about: the yakuza, samuri, or kitsune/ghosts/demons. Because even with as little experience as I have with Japan, these ideas all seemed way too obvious.
Second, I made a list of things I knew I could write about pertaining to Japan: the way Japan was used as a trope/foil in 1980’s cyberpunk; early 1990’s anime, especially the teenage/high school comedy genre (I seriously watched a ton of Ranma 1/2 in college); and Shonen Knife.
And then I thought, “Holy shit, I can totally write a story using those three things.”
Thus was my story born: “The Girl Who Loved Shonen Knife,” about the teenage lead signer of the world’s greatest Shonen Knife cover band, battling for the right to play at her high school’s spring dance while anarchist hackers take down the city around her.
I have to admit: I kind of love this story to pieces. I read it at Bubonicon — it seemed to go over well.