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The evolution of an idea
August 3, 2009

Eric Obenauf of Two Dollar Radio press (great edgy books, check out them out here) asked me this question: "With 'mono no aware' playing such a large part in the story, what was the process of creation -- did you start with the story of Zack Hara or the concept?" The answer is a good follow-up to my post "The Fountain of Youth (and other Ideas)."

I first heard about the concept of 'mono no aware' when I was working on my second novel The Fourth Treasure. It seemed like what writers, really any artist, are trying to do: get across some emotional reaction through their works. I researched the idea some more and found there wasn?t much written about it, at least in English. So I put together a non-fiction monograph on the subject and tried to get it published. That didn?t work out and I realized I wasn?t fully capturing the feeling of the idea. So I wrote a short story to illustrate the concept which got published (it?s the cherry blossom viewing party scene in OH!). I gradually expanded on the short story into three chapters of a novel, built around Zack Hara?s search for an emotionally fulfilling life. I submitted the chapters and a synopsis to Bruce Rutledge at Chin Music Press. He was very enthusiastic about it from the start and helped me shape the story.

The art is really a separate project of Linda?s, giving her interpretation of 'mono no aware' in the form of visual haiku, small works showing an expressionistic reaction to objects. The text exhibits are ?excerpts? from Zack?s research and attempt to understand the concept in a more didactic way. The art and the exhibits don?t literally illustrate the story, but rather supplement it. To integrate the story, art, and text exhibits, Linda selected a piece of her art that went best with a chapter and I dispersed the exhibits based on what Zack was experiencing. But it was Chin Music?s book designer, Josh Powell, who put them together so well. His design made the whole greater than the sum of the parts.

COMMENTS

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Jo Reed
Seems like a fairly unusual path for an idea to become a book: from concept to nonfiction to short story to novel. But I guess whatever works!

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