Shinigami Eyes by Cheree & Adam Smith
Published October 31st 2014 / Dark Cherry Press
Most children hope to grow out of their imaginary friends.17-year-old Rin Waters’ only hope is that hers doesn’t kill someone, especially when said imaginary friend puts a boy in a coma. Finding herself shipped half-way around the world—to Japan, of all places—she is forced to live with grandparents she hasn’t seen for ten years and a cousin she can’t even remember.Rin would rather just forget about the one night that ruined her life and pretend her imaginary friend doesn’t exist—if it was only that easy. When manga-obsessed otaku, Matt, won’t stop pestering her about a manga that sees the future and the tragic accident she’ll be involved in if she doesn’t listen to him, pretending becomes quite a challenge.Suddenly mysterious accidents begin to happen to students in her school, and Rin has to wonder what length Matt is willing to go to prove his manga is real. Is it all a sham or is there really something that wants to see Rin and her new friends dead?
Hi Cheree and Adam, could you please start off by sharing a few random facts about yourselves and your book?
Adam: Okay, I’m 27, I’ve been living in Japan for the past two years and teaching myself Japanese for three years before that, I have a degree in Videogame Design, and I have four goldfish that have somehow survived over a year with me taking care of them.
We put a lot of effort into researching Japanese myths and legends. A lot of the lore rarely appears outside of Japan and we wanted to show some of that with this book. We had so much fun working with what we found, and there are plenty of little in-jokes and references along the way.
Cheree: I’m 33 and currently completing a visual communications and photography course at university. When I’m not writing or studying, I’m tinkering around with fine art photography, often putting my sister in uncomfortable positions and elaborate dresses to take photos of. Ever since I first travelled to Japan over four years ago I knew I wanted to set a novel over there. It’s the perfect mix of Eastern history meets Western culture, plus I love Japanese horror, and just wanted to bring those creepy stories I read about to life in one of my stories.
How did you guys end up writing a horror book?
Adam: When we started all we had was the idea of a manga that tells the future. We didn’t know where the story was headed, we just knew the manga would play a part. It was only once we’d started plotting out the story that we realised how dark it was becoming. It didn’t take long for the fantastical notion of seeing the future to evolve into horror story about trying to prevent horrible deaths in the future.
Cheree: I’m a big horror buff. Seriously, just ask anyone. My brother used to joke that my perfect boyfriend growing up was Freddie Kruger. As much as I love horror, I love Japanese horror even more, and I just wanted to express that love through one of our stories. When the manga idea came up, I always knew it would be a horror, using some of the yokai (Japanese Ghost) stories we had heard on our trips through Japan.
Which line or paragraph from Shinigami Eyes is your favourite and why?
“I flick through the pages, skimming over the pictures, moving too fast to make sense of many of the scenes, until I come to one that makes me want to hurl the book across the room in existential horror and go huddle in the corner. A girl, one that looks disturbingly like me, sitting in a karaoke room, reading a manga about a girl sitting in a karaoke room reading a manga. Okay, this is getting freaky.”
I love this paragraph. It’s the first time Rin really sees the manga for what it is. Plus I got to use the phrase ‘existential horror’ in a sentence.
“Rin-chan! I’m so glad you’re okay! Are you out of the hospital yet? We should go out to celebrate! I’ll buy you a cake! Do you like chocolate or strawberry? Ooh! Why not both!” I don’t think she took a single breath since she picked up. – I’m a bit biased with this answer, this is a paragraph that doesn’t tell much about the story, but I love this paragraph because it’s full of my favourite character, Miki’s personality. Miki is such a bubbly girl who can be talking about a serious topic one minute, then the next she’s talking about celebration cakes. She kind of reminds me of Dug (the dog) in Up, very distracted by squirrels (or shiny things).
What did it feel like to co-write a book with your sibling? Was there a lot of hair-pulling involved? ;)
Adam: It was a fun process. A lot of the time we were in sync on what we wanted to happen. Cheree would provide the structure and I’d go through and add details, and vice versa. We’d do this a couple of times until we had something we were happy with. The hair-pulling came in whenever one of us wanted to make major changes. Being in different countries, we mostly communicated through email and one misinterpretation could result in days of arguing over two completely different things.
Cheree: It’s actually a blast. We work in a different way than most co-authors. I’m really good with the story and Adam’s really good with the details. We just pass the story back and forth several times until we’re happy with how the story’s going, but yes, when I write a scene that is meant to lead the main character to a certain place and then find out that Adam has decided to scratch that scene because it ‘didn’t work’… that’s when the hair-pulling starts. Also, we’ve realized that email isn’t the best device to express concerns or suggest major changes as one little word can be misinterpreted and this could result in back and forth of constant arguing until someone came to their sense and used Skype or Line to verbally explain their idea.
Did you cut something out of the final draft?
Adam: There was a lot that went missing between the first and final drafts. If you were to compare them you’d almost think they were two different stories. Some scenes just didn’t work or we found a better use for them. Sometimes we’d do research and find that something would play out very differently from what we had, so we adjusted accordingly. There were also several characters whose roles got severely reduced or removed altogether, including one of my personal favourites that I hope to bring back at some point if we can find a place for them.
Cheree: Oh yes. If you look at the original manuscript you’d think they were two different stories. We had to make sacrifices for scenes and even characters. There was one character I remember, I just had to cut him entirely from the story because the storyline around the manga changed and I couldn’t get him to fit into the newly evolving story, but Tsubasa you’ll be missed.
What other genres would you love to write?
Adam: I would love to write Science Fiction. I’d like to write a nice good mind-bending time travel piece if I get the chance. More specifically paradoxes. Time travel has a lot of room to play with, but gets outrageously complicated exceedingly quick if you want to do it right. My problem is I get caught up in wanting to make things are as accurate as possible, or at least consistent. At one point I sat down and tried to organise my thoughts on the story, ended up spending four days drawing flowcharts to try and make sense of what was happening and that was only for the start of chapter one.
Cheree: Adam has always pestered me to start a sci-fi. He has even talked to me about a time travel story that we could work on. I wouldn’t mind working on a sci-fi, but my only worry with working on another genre is that Adam will keep telling me ‘that’s not how things can happen’… yeah, he’s constantly pestering me to get things right which is why our research can get indepth, with sci-fi, I’m afraid the realism might outweigh the story at times. But at least I know I have a sci-fi on the backburner for when I feel like a change.
If you could stop doing one thing from your daily schedule, which one would it be?
Adam: Sleeping. I have insomnia, so getting to sleep is a real drag and waking up is even worse. I’m useless in the morning and I’ll stay up all night if I try doing anything before bed. If I didn’t have to worry about sleep, I could accomplish so much more with my day. It would make things so much simpler.
Cheree: Going to work… yeah, if only that was an option. I would actually love to have more time to dedicate to my writing though, at the moment I find any time I can to write. Work takes up too many hours in the day.
What would you like to ask to your favourite movie monster/villain?
Adam: This is a tough one. Most of my favourite monsters and villains would respond with a quick stab to the throat. I’d probably ask the Kuchi-Sake Onna if she thinks I’m pretty. Shortly before being stabbed in the throat.
Cheree: Well, my favourite horror villain is Sadako and if I have to be really serious, then I would have to ask ‘why did you let Hollywood butcher you in the US remake???’ … seriously, that’s why the original is always better than the poor imitation.
What word do you use the most?
Adam: There a probably a number of words I use more often, including a selection I probably shouldn’t, but I’m going to have to say the Japanese word for echidna, harimogura. Being an Australian teaching English to Japanese kids, I have chosen the echidna as my personal mascot since many of them have never heard of it before. Every time I show them a picture though they will always shout hedgehog and I will always correct them. It’s to the point that any time I hear them say hedgehog I will automatically shout echidna, even if they are talking about an actual hedgehog. It’s my personal Pavlovian hobbyhorse.
Cheree: The word I use most often would have to be, ‘cray cray’… it’s just a part of an inside joke with my sister where we call each other ‘cray cray’ for some far out and crazy idea, usually a photography idea I have that involves her lying in the ocean fully dressed or some other elaborate plan.
And last, but not least, use a gif that best represents you!
Awesome. Thank you so much Adam and Cheree for answering my questions, and good luck with Shinigami Eyes, it sounds terryfingly intriguing!a Rafflecopter giveaway
About the Authors