Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Q+A with Steve Bein (Year of the Demon)

Please welcome today's paranormal guest author Steve Bein.  Steve is the author of the Fated Blades series (Only a Shadow, Daughter of the Sword, and Year of the Demon).

EJ:  When did you begin writing?

Since before I can remember.  My parents tell me I was writing stories as soon as I knew how to write.  But if you're asking how long I've been writing professionally, my first publication was ten years ago.  That was a novella called Beautiful Singer, about a samurai who steals a sword he believes is not haunted, and who turns out to be sadly mistaken about that fact.  That story ultimately evolved, nine years later, into the novel Daughter of the Sword, where the sword turns up in a series of murders in 21st-century Tokyo.  Then came Only a Shadow, and the next book in the Fated Blades series, Year of the Demon, comes out October 1st.

EJ:  What brought you to the paranormal genre?

  Two things.  First of all, it's cool.  Part of me is still writing for my inner ten-year-old, and that kid loves Star Wars and Tolkien and comic books.  Second, I'm interested in fiction that explores some philosophically murky areas.  I find that sci-fi and fantasy open up new avenues to do that.  You can ask new questions, or shine new light on the perennial questions.  Philosophers and SF writers have shared the same territory for a long time.  The Matrix is just Plato’s allegory of the cave with kung fu and guns -- and now we circle back around to the inner ten-year-old.  Philosophy plus kung fu and guns; what’s not to love?

EJ:  If you could be any paranormal or have any one supernatural talent, what would it be? Why?

The Force.  Hands down.  I’ve spent twenty years in the martial arts, and of all the hundreds of ways I’ve learned to choke people out, none of them work from across the room.  Give me the Force and I would be the baddest of the bad in the UFC circuit.

EJ:  Tell us why readers will enjoy your new release.

If you like thrillers, historical fiction, historical fantasy, urban fantasy, or police procedurals, I think you’re going to like these books.  If you like strong female protagonists, I think you’re going to like these books a lot.

The primary storyline is about Mariko Oshiro, the only woman to make the rank of detective and sergeant in Tokyo’s most elite police unit.  Mariko has to fight for every scrap of respect, and she gets to work cases involving yakuza drug rings, secret cults, and ancient samurai swords.

Some of the swords are said to be possessed, others are blessed, others are cursed.  These swords have been crossing paths, and changing history, for almost a thousand years.  And so there are historical interludes in the novels, where we see samurai in the 1300s, or ninja in the 1500s, or Army Intelligence officers in WWII, all contending with the will of the swords.

So Mariko’s story is a thriller and police procedural with a touch of urban fantasy.  Intersperse that with historical fiction with a touch of fantasy.  Add loads of research to recreate each of these historical periods, and modern day Tokyo too, with the attention to detail that they deserve.  I really do think these books have something for everyone.

EJ:  If your book(s) were being made into a movie, who would you cast for the leading roles? Why?

I just watched Pacific Rim, and Rinko Kikuchi (the Japanese woman who co-stars) would be a great Mariko.  Mariko is tough, she’s smart, she’s resourceful, and she can kick ass with a sword in her hands.  Rinko Kikuchi fits the bill on all three counts.

Mariko is hunting a yakuza enforcer called Fuchida Shuzo.  Hiroyuki Sanada would be my choice to play Fuchida.  For a long time he wasn’t well known in this country, but that’s changing.  He’s in the new Wolverine movie, he’s got a leading role in Keanu Reeves’ upcoming film, 47 Ronin, and he was by far the coolest guy in Tom Cruise’s The Last Samurai.  He’s cool, he’s smart, and he’s a total badass with a sword.  (You may be detecting a theme here.)

Mariko’s sword sensei is called Yamada Yasuo.  He’s a blind swordsman (a recurring theme in lots of samurai movies and samurai stories going way, way back).  He’s a sort of Obi Wan Kenobi character (Alec Guinness, not Ewan MacGregor), but more of a wisecracker, and of course an absolute terminator with a sword.  To play Yamada-sensei, I guess I’d want Alec Guinness to reincarnate in a Japanese body and spend 80 years doing kenjutsu drills to prep for the role.  Barring that, Ken Watanabe would be great too, with lots of old geezer prosthetics, of course.

Year of the Demon (Fated Blades #2) by Steve Bein


Detective Sergeant Mariko Oshiro has been promoted to Japan’s elite Narcotics unit—and with this promotion comes a new partner, a new case, and new danger. The underboss of a powerful yakuza crime syndicate has put a price on her head, and he’ll lift the bounty only if she retrieves an ancient iron demon mask that was stolen from him in a daring raid. However, Mariko has no idea of the tumultuous past carried within the mask—or of its deadly link with the famed Inazuma blade she wields.

The secret of this mask originated hundreds of years before Mariko was born, and over time the mask’s power has evolved to bend its owner toward destruction, stopping at nothing to obtain Inazuma steel. Mariko’s fallen sensei knew much of the mask’s hypnotic power and of its mysterious link to a murderous cult. Now Mariko must use his notes to find the mask before the cult can bring Tokyo to its knees—and before the underboss decides her time is up...

Release Date: October 1, 2013

Thank you Steve for joining us here today at From the Shadows!

To learn more about Steve Bein and his books, please visit his website.

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