Harlequin was doing a big #YeahYA authors event at Chapters Brampton, a suburb outside of Toronto, one Sunday and as I wouldn’t have been able to make it out that way, I was ecstatic to see that there would be a book launch signing for Amanda Sun the day before. I had heard great things about this local debut author’s book Ink and definitely wanted to go see her at Indigo Yorkdale on the Saturday.
Amanda came out, with daughter in tow, in a beautiful yukata and spoke about her book and the writing process. She didn’t mean to write YA but she had always written characters that were a little older than her until she hit her teenage years. At that point, her characters just ended up staying at that age. For Ink, she pulled from her experiences in Japan and Egyptian mythology was actually a huge inspiration for this Japan-set book. Amanda majored in archaeology and later signed our books with our names in hieroglyphics! She spoke about how her mission is to have more diversity in YA, to have more of the Asian culture represented.
The physical copy of Ink is a gorgeous book. The cover has texture to it, like sketchbook paper and there are illustrations and flip animations all throughout the novel itself. The enhanced ebook version even has enhanced animations! There’s also a glossary at the back with the Japanese terms that are used throughout the story and the prequel, Shadow, is available now as a free ebook download.
“Such terrifying beauty” is the main theme. Life is terrifying, life is beautiful. You have to make things happen, you have to live life.
As with many Q&A sessions, people are usually hesitant to raise their hand with questions. Well, Harlequin certainly changed that! For the first 20 people who asked a question, they’d get a little goodie bag filled with Japanese treats. Boy did all the hands go shooting up then! Amanda’s one biggest piece of advice for writers: finish your work! What held her back was actually sitting down to finish her novel. She equated writing to entering a forest. If you just sit down, look around and rest once you’re inside you’re never going to go anywhere. Get up, finish writing and get out of that forest. Writing is a very solitary thing, but the writing community is not. Patrick Ness and Neil Gaiman are some of her more recent influences, and the anime Deathnote was a big inspiration to Ink as well. Amanda also shared that she is a cosplayer, and cosplaying allows her to get into the mindset of a character.
After the Q&A, Amanda proceeded to sign our copies of Ink, writing our names in hieroglyphics if we wanted. We were welcome to grab a cupcake, some lucky origami stars and to write a wish to hang on her little cherry blossom tree. It was a lovely intimate gathering with the fabulous Amanda, her family and the Harlequin team. After the book signing, Chandra and I invited Amanda to join us for lunch (which, to our delight, ended up being brunch) and it was so great to get a chance to chat more with the local debut author.