Geekery, fiction, and ninja — that’s a pretty typical day in my life, actually….
So I forgot entirely to mention that I would be at Gen Con, the world’s largest gaming convention. But I was there! I and my cosplay group “…And Sewing Is Half the Battle!” taught workshops ranging from how to dance “Thriller” to constructing featherweight armor to, of course, Folklore & Mythology of Japan.
I had a great audience for the folklore panel — thanks, guys! — and of course I forgot entirely to tell them where to find more information or this blog. I hope they can operate Google. They seemed like bright folks.
Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers
In another couple of weeks, I’ll be heading out to the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference. I’m excited because I’ve
stalked researched and learned that an author I’ve enjoyed for years will be presenting there (Rob Thurman, who writes the Cal Leandros series and others, as I’ve mentioned before) as well as an author I’ve just found (Susan Spann, who writes the new Shinobi Mystery series, my attraction to which should be obvious). I’ll also get a chance to see some of the writer friends I met at NCWC this spring.
If you’ll be at RMFW2013, please drop me a line or say hello! I’d love to meet you — and maybe introduce you to a new book. Like Susan Spann’s Claws of the Cat.
Claws of the Cat
I have to say, the premise caught me up front. A shinobi (the more proper term for ninja, as we’ve discussed) as gumshoe? And working with a Portuguese priest, another far-from-mainstream member of society? Written by someone with a degree in Asian Studies, so the history will be good? Take my money.
In Claws of the Cat, Hiro and Father Mateo must find the killer of a teahouse patron, to save the young entertainer accused of the crime — and themselves. The pursuit is urgent and multi-layered, and while we don’t learn much of Father Mateo yet, we are given hints of secrets Hiro has regarding his career and personal life. Because what’s a shinobi without secrets?
I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of many educational tidbits throughout the story. Without going into an info-dump of contemporary habit, the author uses the outsider status of the protagonists to illustrate by contrast normal life, and when the modern reader might not know the position of a female samurai living in a typically male role, it can be explained to Father Mateo and the reader learns, too. I’ve heard from a few readers that the unfamiliar setting of historical Japan can be intimidating, but don’t be afraid of this book. Everything you need is included.
In fact, my biggest complaint with the book is typographical. In the Kindle edition I have, some Japanese words are in italics and others are not, and I cannot discern a pattern. But that’s a pretty small grievance, and I’m looking forward to the next installment in the series.