Amanda Sun was in Chicago June 29th, 2013, promoting her book, “INK,” during the ALA (American Library Association) conference. She took time off from her signing and browsing to talk about her book.
Amanda Sun loves Japan. She spent two summer months there when she was 17, and then her host family’s daughter came to Canada to live with her family for two months. Since then, she has continued to visit Japan every few years, and she regularly hosts Japanese students at her home.
She loves visiting classrooms and touring schools when she is in Japan. And she loves the surprises those visits often bring. Recently, for example, she was surprised to find one classroom filled with harps. There is a harp club, and students come together in that classroom to play and to share musical ideas.
The idea for “INK” came from Amanda’s childhood. Her mother bought her a book about myths all over the world. The stories included myths from Russia, Alaska, Romania, China, and of course, Japan. The idea for the actual story, however, came not from a Japanese myth but from an Egyptian one.
Amanda’s education included archeology and Egyptian heiroglyphics, and she was interested in the fact that certain ancient snake hieroglyphics on walls were chiseled through with a line. Scholars believe that the line was to stop the snakes from coming alive and biting those buried there in the afterlife. Amanda combined that idea with the history of Kanji, a system of Japanese writing using Chinese characters, and the kernel of an idea for “INK” was born.
Amanda loves the idea of drawings coming to life. She combined Katie, a character from one of her short stories (greatly changed), and Tomohiro, a character she had been thinking about, and began thinking about their new story.
She relates that “…one day Katie and I were watching Tomo; he was drawing a dragon and the tail flicked across the page. That’s how it came to be. He told me about it.” Amanda loved writing “INK” because, she says, “I never know what part of the drawing will come to life — I just see what will develop.”
As readers may guess, while Amanda does know the beginning and the end of each of her stories (and a few events in the middle), she writes each story letting the characters and plot develop while she works. In a very charming way — the way she tells it — the characters create themselves.
What Amanda most loves about the Japanese culture and people is their amazing and inspiring enjoyment of everyday life. In Japanese culture there is a much greater emphasis on making things beautiful — even in a train station, music plays to announce the arrival of a train; items purchased in shops are always gift-wrapped and presented lovingly.
Amanda wants young adults to read books about other cultures to see how other people live. But the biggest message she wants readers to take away from her books is that “people all over are not different. We all want to find purpose in our lives. We all love our families.” Finally? She hopes this book challenges readers to think about who they are and what they want.
Many thanks to Kaye Publicity team for arranging the interview.
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