Saturday, August 24, 2013

Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? is now published

Over the past year I've been working on this new book, novel #3, Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? — which brings together such disparate elements as 1940s and '60s comic books, a sci-fi/dystopia, pulp influences, and hardboiled noir trying desperately to skulk somewhere beneath the coattails of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.

Anyway, it was supposed to be published via Perfect Edge Books in the UK on September 27th this year, but has sneaked out of the blocks early and is now available from Amazon UK and Amazon USA in paperback form at least (the eBook will probably come out late in September). 

I still can't believe it's out there, and of course I can't resist hawking it here!

There are Japanese elements to the book, after all. Key character Midori, a.k.a. Prima Ballerina, is of Japanese descent. Lead character Pretty Amazonia (pictured here, conjured up by artist Juan Saavedra), is a hybrid of super-powered girls' anime characters from things like Sailor Moon and PreCure. She spends free time kicking round a manga volume of Candy Candy.

And she gets around in a ship named the Magnetic Rose (check out Katsuhiro Otomo's 1995 anime Memories).

There's also a cameo by another character that plays on the Fuchikoma 1-man tanks used by members of Section 9 in Ghost in the Shell.

So, Japanese refs and hawking aside, I'm pretty buzzed about this one and hope you get the time at least to check it out.

While the price (for the paperback) may seem a little steep, just remember it's 473 pages, with 35 illustrations. And it makes a great door-stopper.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

BREAKING CAMP: Running School Camps in Japan is Weird

Last week, after twelve years in this country, I did something for the first time that's apparently quite the lure for English teachers in Japan, mostly because of the bonus-extra cash — going on a school camp during summer vacation.

In this case it was a three-day affair, attempting to teach a bunch of junior high school girls I'd never before met, without any idea of their English language level and no access to a PC, whiteboards, textbooks or a photocopier.

The lessons were conducted on the tatami-matted floors of their shared rooms at an inn near Yamanaka Lake, and my particular group of nine included the rowdiest and more stubborn members of the entire camp. I had one kid constantly questioning everything we did—sadly in Japanese rather than the language we were supposed to be practicing—along with a grumpy scowler, a girl who thought she was a bird, rivalries, and mood swings galore.

There were tears almost as often as there was laughter.

To top things off, one of the Canadian teachers had a meltdown, locked herself in her room, and refused to teach—meaning the other four instructors inherited that class as well.


Being stuck teaching 13-year-olds from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm every day had me climbing the walls—and fired up to do something creative. Like drink a lot of beer from the convenience store located a kilometre away down a road in the middle of a tiny village with no streetlights.