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Interview with Virginia McClain author of Blade’s Edge February 23, 2015

Posted by heidi skarie in Book Review.
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Blade's Edge

Blade’s Edge

Recently, I read a wonderful fantasy book entitled Blade’s Edge by Virginia McClain.  The characters are well developed, plot intricate and the setting influenced by Japan.  The book is about two young girls living in an orphanage who have powers that they must hide.  They eventually become separated and the story follows each of their lives.
I loved the cover art that was done by artist Juan Carlos Barquet.
Here is a description of the book:
The Kisōshi, elite warriors with elemental powers, have served as the rulers and protectors of the people of Gensokai for more than a thousand years. Though it is believed throughout Gensokai that there is no such thing as a female Kisōshi, the Rōjū ruling council goes to great lengths to ensure that no one dares ask why.
Even as young girls, Mishi and Taka know that they risk severe punishment – or worse – if anyone were to discover their powers. This shared secret forms a deep bond between them until, taken from their orphanage home and separated, the two girls must learn to survive in a world where their very existence is a crime. Yet when the girls learn the dark secret of the Rōjū council, they discover that much more than their own survival is at stake.
After reading the book, I asked the author for an interview.  Her answers were quite interesting.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve always enjoyed telling stories. Even as a child I would write down ridiculous stories (written in crayon, and largely illegible, to start with) and share them with my mom, who always thought they were brilliant (as mothers do). Then when I was in middle school I had an English teacher who actually told me that my creative writing was good and that she enjoyed my stories. She encouraged me to write more and asked me if I wanted to become a writer. That was the first time anyone other than my mother had told me I was a good writer, or made me wonder if it was something I could do for a job. I decided it was, and I’ve been working (slowly) towards becoming a writer ever since.
How did you come up with the idea for Blade’s Edge?
 
Actually, the idea started because, as I was living in Japan and spending a lot of time hiking to secluded mountain shrines and temples, I started to wonder what it would be like if all of the shinto spirits were actually real and able to influence the world. Then I started to wonder what magic would be like if it were based on certain zen meditation practices. Ultimately, the book became something very different than a simple answer to those questions, but it was how the initial spark for the story started.
The world you created is very detailed.  How did you come up with it?
 
Well, the last question answers part of this, but the rest of it is that I stole a lot of inspiration from the Japanese landscape, and from feudal Japan. Of course Gensokai (the world in which Blade’s Edge takes place) is completely fictitious, but it’s inspired by Japan and feudal Japanese samurai culture. Living in Japan, having access to a lot of Japanese history even in the small and remote city I was living in, and having that cultural experience to draw from certainly helped me detail the imaginary world I created in my head.
You had interesting names for your characters.  How do you come up with them?
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Virginia McClain

 
Most of the names of the characters are the names of animals in Japanese (Taka is the word for Hawk, for example), but not all. Others are Japanese words that suited the characters’ personalities or physical traits (Mishi’s name is an abbreviation of an infrequently used word for ‘strange’ for example) and others are actual Japanese names.
What is the most important theme in the book?
I prefer to let readers answer that question for themselves. Everyone’s experience of the book is likely to be quite different, and I don’t want to sway anyone else’s experience with the text. However, without getting too specific, I would hope that the book raises some questions in readers’ minds about gender norms, and how they affect us as a society.
What experiences from your own life helped you write this book?
Wow. That’s a difficult question to narrow down. Obviously my time in Japan, but also my whole life leading up to that point and since. How’s that for a broad answer? Honestly, though, my experiences with martial arts training, contact sports, and the fact that my parents always went out of their way to treat me the same way they treated my brother, all affected my ability to write this particular book. Hopefully, that makes sense to those that have read the book already, and is sufficiently vague and intriguing to those who haven’t read it yet.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I don’t think so. Thanks so much for taking the time to ask me these questions and for sharing them with your readers!
The author’s website is: http://www.virginiamcclain.org/
Here is the book trailer:
If you’re looking for a good fantasy novel, check out Blade’s Edge.
I’m always interested in hearing your thoughts and comments so feel free to share them.
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Comments»

1. M. Howalt - February 26, 2015

Great interview! It’s always fun to go behind the scenes on books. 🙂

heidi skarie - February 26, 2015

Thank you. I agree, it’s fun to know more about the author and what inspired them to write a book.


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