Thursday, July 28, 2011

Interview with Jacques Antoine

 Go No Sen (Emily Kane Stories)
Tell us about Go No Sen (Emily Kane stories):  Go No Sen is a YA martial arts story about a high school girl who has to fight off covert operatives from various clandestine organizations, both American and foreign, in order to salvage the life she knows, and to stay in school. She is determined to preserve her own identity. She refuses to become a fugitive and go into hiding with what is left of her family. But along the way, she learns that she is not who she thinks she is, and that her family is not what she thinks either. Who exactly is Emily Kane, and why is she so good at fighting? To solve the mystery of her identity, she turns to her high school classmates, makes friends where she had always been a loner. But then she has to protect them from the danger swirling around her. The only solution may be to draw her enemies out into the open and confront them face to face.

The story is full of action, espionage, and especially fighting. The fight sequences are described not only from the point of view of an external observer, but also internally, from the point of view of the fighters. What Emily knows, and her opponents only find out by fighting her, is the nature of their own character. The conflict reveals who the opponents are to themselves, if they have the courage to face themselves.

Go No Sen is the first book in a series, The Emily Kane Stories. The sequel, Sen No Sen, will be available in September. The third book in the series, Sensei/Sempai, is scheduled for release in November.

Where is your book available?

The book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. It will be available on Sony and the Apple store soon.

Where did you get the idea for your book?

I started writing Go No Sen after reflecting on my daughter's experience studying karate. She's 12, and in her dojo (probably in all dojos) the girls are much more careful about controlling their punches and kicks than the boys are. Since the dojo is mainly populated by boys, she finds sparring really annoying, because the boys hit harder than they're supposed to. It's not the physical pain that bothers her (she's a tough chick!), but the moral insult of it. As I thought about this, I tried to imagine the girl who would really make sparring her own. What would she be like? And then, what sort of things might happen to her? And finally, what would she become as a result of those experiences?

How did you come up with the title?

The title, Go No Sen, means counterattack (roughly) in Japanese, though there is a deeper meaning concerning the nature of initiative. It's a karate term that describes a particular style of fighting. Emily favors go no sen because she finds her own initiative hidden in the attack of her opponent. That is, she understands the nature of sen, or initiative, more deeply than her opponents ever do.

Who designed the cover?

The cover photograph is my own, taken in the mountains around Santa Fe, New Mexico. I designed the titles with intensive consultation by my daughter.

Who was your inspiration for writing?
No one person was the inspiration for the heroine, Emily Kane. She's a consummate tough chick, and is drawn from the many tough chicks in my life. She's a bit of a fairy tale, or a dream. So I suppose, in some sense, I guess I just dreamed her up. But this character became the inspiration for the rest of the story.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Go No Sen is the first work of fiction I've published. I have written a couple of children's books, but never published them. I'm not sure I have a favorite. But the Emily Kane Stories have captivated my imagination recently. I love my characters and want to know what's going to happen to them next. But to find that out, I have to keep writing.

Do you have to travel a lot for your books?

Go No Sen was based on travel I had made over the last couple of years. Sen No Sen is based partly on actual travel and partly on reading about some very exotic locations. I would love to travel everywhere Emily Kane goes, but unfortunately some of her destination are not publicly accessible.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I wrote my first children's book when I was in my twenties.

Do you think your book has the potential for a good movie?

Yes, especially given the advances in martial arts filming and choreography over the last few years. Martial arts is an exercise in imagination, and writing about it is like a second layer of imagination laid over the first. A movie would be an excellent way to catch that complexity, focusing alternately on the movements and the internal reflections they generate.

Do you have any suggestions for me on how to become a better writer?

There are really two sides to the craft of writing. First is to be open to the way a story unfolds gradually as you write. It is possible to have a sense of the overall shape of the narrative at the outset. But it is important to let the particular scenes and characters you are working on at any given moment shape and reshape that narrative. Let the story grow as you go.

The second side is to develop a soft touch. You have to convey a complex experience of a scene or a conversation without stepping all over it as you write it. As a writer, you are not merely describing facts. You are primarily working with the imagination of your reader, planting suggestions, manipulating implications, inducing it to do the main work of painting in the details of the scene. Your descriptions have only a limited ability to paint a scene, but your reader's imagination has an unlimited power in this regard.

About Jacques Antoine:

I'm a college professor, and teach astronomy among other things, so I read and write for a living. But writing fiction gives me an outlet for a rather different kind of writing, and reading. I spend a lot of time hiking and climbing in the mountains of the high desert around Santa Fe, New Mexico. I live at high altitude, 7,500 feet above sea level, and am used to the thin air. But I also enjoy breathing the thick air of the coasts when I visit relatives.!/AntoineJacques

Follow me on twitter @spencerbrokaw


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