Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Kojiki by Keith Yatsuhashi


When eighteen-year-old Keiko Yamada’s father dies unexpectedly, he leaves behind a one way ticket to Japan, an unintelligible death poem about powerful Japanese spirits and their gigantic, beast-like Guardians, and the cryptic words: “Go to Japan in my place. Find the Gate. My camera will show you the way.”

Alone and afraid, Keiko travels to Tokyo, determined to fulfill her father’s dying wish. There, beneath glittering neon signs, her father’s death poem comes to life. Ancient spirits spring from the shadows. Chaos envelops the city, and as Keiko flees its burning streets, her guide, the beautiful Yui Akiko, makes a stunning confession--that she, Yui, is one of a handful of spirits left behind to defend the world against the most powerful among them: a once noble spirit now insane. 

The Earth itself is at stake, and as Keiko fights to save it, strange, dormant abilities stir within her. She suspects they are vital to her world’s survival, but to summon them, she must first unlock the mysteries within herself and a past shrouded in mystery.

What Inspired you to become an author? 

Thank you for the question and for hosting me! Inspiration’s a funny thing. You never know where it’ll come from. In the case of Kojiki, I was sitting on a bench on a beautiful May morning when Kojiki took shape in my head. It wasn’t the first time, but what made it different was that it unfolded not in images, but words. I realized, if I jotted them down, I was onto something. Needless to say, I did. One sentence led to the next, and so on until I finished that first draft. A few weeks before that, the last of my father’s siblings passed away. At her funeral, my father’s sister-in-law related some family stories we’d never heard before. She claimed my grandfather’s family was close to the Japanese Imperial family before the capital moved from Kyoto. She claimed my grandmother’s family had an ancestor who fought the Mongols in the 13th century. That was when the Kamikaze, the Divine Wind swept in to destroy Kublai Khan’s vastly superior navy and thereby saving Japan from seemingly inevitable capture. I don’t know if any of this is true, but it was enough to fire my imagination. From there, I wove in things I love about Japan and anime, (I’ve been an anime fan since Speed Racer was first shown on US TV).


Keiko, a voice said in her head. An awareness followed it— a presence— that she recognized as Yui. You need to do exactly as I say. I’ve raised a shield for protection, but I need to concentrate to maintain it. Stay down and keep out of my way. Do you understand? 

“Shield?” Keiko shouted. “What shield? What are you talking about? What’s happening? And how are you talking to me like this? It’s… it’s…” She fished around for the right words and was just about to say “impossible” when a rumbling pulled her eyes to the smoking gash to her left. Fear froze her lips, and only a great effort convinced them to move. “We have to get out of here! We have to get out!” 

Another growl echoed throughout the chamber, this one accompanied by an eerie staccato pounding. Keiko’s pulse beat in time with the sound, the two growing louder in her ears. Light bloomed at the tunnel’s mouth, alternating red and yellow, bringing still more heat.

Keiko glanced at the stairs. Too far. The thumping had already reached the tunnel entrance. Smoke stung her eyes, making it hard to see without blinking. It filled her nose, and she recoiled, knowing its source. 

She heard the southern passage collapse, the staccato pounding reaching it, growing louder. Slowly, as if invisible hands conspired against her, she looked back as the head of some terrible beast shot into the wrecked and burning station. 

Glittering scales of red and gold sparkled through the smoke, vast armored plates that burned with an internal fire. A pair of huge spikes sprouted from the top of its enormous reptilian head, the long, snake-like body behind sporting a series of smaller, razor-sharp spears that began at the base of the creature’s powerful shoulders and tapered toward its whip-like tail.

About the author:
Keith Yatsuhashi was born in 1965 in Boston, MA. He graduated from Northeastern University in 1989 and is currently the Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce Export Assistance Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

Keith was a competitive figure skater for ten years, winning the U.S. National Junior Dance Championships in 1984, a bronze medal in the 1983 World Junior Figure Skating Championships, and a silver medal in 1984. 
In addition to his love of writing, Keith enjoys many hobbies such as golf, reading, and playing football and hockey with his sons. Keith currently lives in Norfolk, MA with his wife, Kathleen and three children—Caitlin, Jeffrey, and Justin.