Book Nerd Interview
Hiromi’s first novel, Chorus of Mushrooms (1994), received the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book in the Caribbean and Canada region and was co-winner of the Canada-Japan Book Award. Her short stories and poetry have been widely published in literary journals and anthologies. Her second novel,The Kappa Child (2001), was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Regional Book, and was awarded the James Tiptree Jr. Memorial Award. Her first children’s novel, The Water of Possibility, was also published that year. Hopeful Monsters, a collection of short stories, was released in 2004. Her YA/Crossover novel, Half World(2009), was long-listed for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and received the 2010 Sunburst Award and the Carl Brandon Society Parallax Award. Her long poem, co-written with David Bateman, came out in Fall 2009. Wait Until Late Afternoon is her first book-length poetry publication. Darkest Light, companion book to Half World, is her latest novel. It is the first book released under the new Razorbill Imprint of Penguin Canada.
Hiromi is an active member of the literary community, a writing instructor, editor and the mother of two (big) children. She has served in numerous writer-in-residencies and is currently in BC, working on an adult novel and a graphic novel.
Hiromi Goto is represented by The Cooke Agency
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Fiery, quirky, thoughtful.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
A police officer, a jockey (horse-racing), a writer, an artist.
What fiction most influenced your childhood, and what effect did those stories have on your writing?
I read so many, many books as a child.... I read through the school library by the rows, I bought books with my mushroom-picking money. I loved adventure narratives about survival. I also very much loved stories about magical or ghostly things and SF. Fiction titles that stand out for me: The Wump World, A Wrinkle in Time, One Fat Summer, The Girl Who Owned A City, Jacob Two-Two and the Hooded Fang, Heidi, the Laura Ingalls books, Where the Red Fern Grows, My Side of the Mountain, The Borrowers, The Outsiders. I think everything I've read has had an impact upon my writing-- even the books I did not enjoy or appreciate. All the stories influence me in different ways. But the stories that shone made me long to be able to move someone like I had been moved.
For those who are unfamiliar with your book; Darkest Light, how would you introduce it?
Darkest Light is a story about a teenaged boy who has always known that he was not like his peers, but does not know why. He's adopted but there are irregularities in the process; his adoptive grandmother has told him he must not draw attention to himself because they don't have proper papers. When his grandmother takes ill the truth is forced upon in when he is most alone. He discovers he has ties to a horrific purgatory-like realm; that this is where he's come from. He must return to this terrible place he does not remember even as the dark feelings he's suppressed throughout his life begins to grow stronger. Darkest Light is a companion book to Half World. I'd recommend reading Half World before reading DL. But I think it can also stand on its own.
The world you created for Darkest Light is so vivid and remarkable. What gave you the idea?
The purgatory-like realm of Half World came about because I was trying to come up with a reason why there's so much cyclical suffering in human history. Why do we repeat such awful atrocities upon each other? Why do we continue to fight wars, inflicting harm upon others and destroying our world? And came up with the idea that our world, the fleshly world, was originally part of a three realm system: the Realm of Flesh, Half World, and the Realm of Spirit. That there was a time that the Three Realms were interconnected and that living things passed from realm to realm in due time and all was in balance. Something happened to split these realms apart, and that's why we cannot cycle through the healing process. That's why there remains so much suffering. For those trapped eternally in Half World the torment created monsters. This idea, however, informs the development of the setting in the first novel, Half World. Darkest Light is a return to Half World for our new protagonist, Gee.
What part of Gee did you enjoy writing the most?
It was difficult to write through Gee because he is a character who is so conflicted and struggling through such awful temptations. I was happy when I could write scenes where he could enjoy himself, just brief moments, with his new-found bad-ass friend, Cracker.
Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
Gee is not a conventional hero. He is almost an anti-hero in some ways. I've always noticed how news media and a lot of people portray perpetrators of crimes as absolute monsters. They even call them monsters. Inhuman, they say. These are ways of othering people. We like to think that "they" are not like "us"; they are separate. I was hoping to explore the different ways of being able to imagine humanity in a person who might have done terrible things in the past. I also believe that most humans are capable of monstrous acts and that to deny this dark force inside ourselves actually puts us at greater risk of being unprepared for its power when it arises.
What chapter was the most memorable to write and why?
The second-last chapter! But I can't tell you why because it would spoiler the story!
Is there anything additional you would like to share with your readers?
If you could be any mythology creature, what would you be?
Tanuki. They're actually real animals but I mean the more folklorish kind. Tanuki know how to have a good time!
What is your favorite food?
I have a very difficult time choosing a favourite anything!
What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?
Tomboy, by Celine Sciamma, Trollhunter, by Andre Ovredal, Let the Right One In, by Tomas Alfredson
Where can readers stalk you?
I'm frequently on Twitter @hinganai and I have a website http://www.hiromigoto.com/ as well as a blog http://www.hiromigoto.com/blog/ . I cover numerous things on my blog but often talk about writing, the writing life, elements of craft, as well as the odd book or film review.
The recently reunited realms are again at risk—something is left undone…
Gee, an adopted child, has been kept ignorant of his troubled past. Now 16 years old, he is a loner both despised and feared by his classmates. Dark, strange, and unbidden feelings slowly begin to grow inside him. Even as he struggles to resist the call of a horrendous legacy, an enchantingly monstrous woman comes to fetch him and Gee is compelled to journey to Half World, a purgatory-like realm.
Abandoning his grandmother and the place he’s called home, Gee must face where he came from, and what he used to be, in order to determine his fate and the fate of three realms. Aided by a resentful cat and a newfound friend, Gee must fight the monstrous and the horrific in Half World, but, most difficult of all, he must overcome his own propensity for evil. If he loses this struggle, the three realms will be doomed once more.
The action packed fantasy world inside Darkest Light by Hiromi Goto is the perfect sequel for the Half World Series. Each page is splattered with highly detailed scenes, settings, and unforgettable characters. Hiromi brilliantly continues the story with the telling of Gee, a boy who sets off on a voyage to learn about himself and discover his true purpose in the world. Hiromi’s solid writing will immediately hook readers from the very beginning. They mystery that clouds over Gee is very interesting. He is such an extraordinary character but with feelings and weaknesses like any normal boy. He has problems that many of us can relate to.
The world building that Hiromi devised is impressive. The way she describes the setting is like a painting that comes alive and readers will feel transported into it. From the wonderful story, remarkable characters, and marvelous concepts, everything feels unique and original. The development of the characters is exceptionally well and each of them are believable, especially the protagonist, Gee. This book takes the series into a deep and dark philosophical fantasy. It’s one of those sequels that feel like it overpowers its predecessor. However, Darkest Light is just the right follow up for the Half World series. Readers are treated to an unforgettable plot story with plenty of twists and turns. The plot twists and turns will have readers on the edge of their seats and continually turning pages. Be prepared to lose some sleep because you won’t be able to put this book down.
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