Today we’re thrilled to kick off the blog tour of Ink by Amanda Sun, the first book in her imaginative YA series The Paper Gods. Ink was recently named one of USA Today’s top 10 young adult books for the summer PLUS you can download a free prequel ebook novella Shadow right now from your favorite ebook store or on Wattpad.
Today, Amanda blogs about her experience as an exchange student in Japan, which helped inspire her series. Keep reading for a schedule of the rest of the Ink blog tour where you can learn more about the book and enter to win great prizes!
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When I was in high school, I had the opportunity to live in Japan on exchange. I grew up in a very small town surrounded by forests on the banks of a river, so living in Osaka, with a population of 3 million, was a huge change. I couldn’t read the signs, I could barely speak Japanese, and I had trouble recognizing the food on my plate.
I loved every minute of it.
I kept a daily journal of my experiences there—the food, language, sights, and sounds. I had the chance to travel to Kyoto, Hiroshima, Tokyo, and even Miyajima where some of INK takes place. I climbed Mount Fuji, and I fed deer in Nara. I took the ropeway up the mountainside to look for monkeys. And even if I got homesick, or had a bout of culture shock, I just wrote it down and filed it away for later reminiscing.
As a voracious reader and aspiring writer since I was four, I knew that what had happened to me would find its way into my writing voice. I wrote short stories set in Japan, but they didn’t seem enough. I knew there was more to the story, that the experiences were flowering in my mind until it was time to uproot them to the page.
After university, I started hosting students from Japan. I wanted to give them the experiences I’d had, that life-changing moment when nothing looks the same again. I hosted a girl from Shizuoka and later had the chance to visit her. I was struck by how cinematic Shizuoka was, with its oasis of Sunpu Park and Castle surrounded by a moat in the middle of the city. I visited a few more times while writing INK, to make sure I really captured the spirit of that beautiful place.
INK is the story of Katie, an orphaned American teen who moves to Japan to live with her English-teaching aunt. There she crosses paths with the kendo star of her school, Tomohiro, whose drawings come to life in dangerous ways. Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being close to Katie is causing his power to spiral out of control. When the wrong people notice, Katie and Tomo find their own lives at stake.
You might be surprised to hear that INK started in my mind as a YA Contemporary. I pictured this boy drawing in a sketchbook in the forest, and the American girl who became intrigued by his drawings. And one day, while Katie and I were watching Tomohiro sketch, his drawing moved across the page.
I was stunned. Slowly, Tomohiro told me the truth about who he was, and I started to see how Katie fit into all of it, how they were linked, and how they needed each other. My early interest in Japanese mythology and history intertwined with the story, and a small detail I’d learned from my Archaeology degree fell into place as well—ancient Egyptian scribes used to chisel through the snake hieroglyphs in case they became alive and threatening on the tomb walls.
I knew, now, that Tomohiro’s drawings came to life, but in a sinister way that linked to ancient beings of power. Everything made sense, and I knew this was the book I’d been waiting for, the book of my heart.
I hope you enjoy INK, and that through Katie’s eyes, you can truly experience the country I fell in love with all those years ago.
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Ink Blog Tour:
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Ink is in their blood.
On the heels of a family tragedy, Katie Greene must move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.
When Katie meets aloof but gorgeous Tomohiro, the star of the school’s kendo team, she is intrigued by him…and a little scared. His tough attitude seems meant to keep her at a distance, and when they’re near each other, strange things happen. Pens explode. Ink drips from nowhere. And unless Katie is seeing things, drawings come to life.
Somehow Tomo is connected to the kami, powerful ancient beings who once ruled Japan—and as feelings develop between Katie and Tomo, things begin to spiral out of control. The wrong people are starting to ask questions, and if they discover the truth, no one will be safe.