Naru- Hello, and welcome to the Fullmetal Narcissist anime blog! I have a very special guest with me today, the author of several anime-inspired novels, including the highly ambitious 7th Moon, Michael Joy! To start things off, would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?
Joy- Sure, I started watching an anime as a kid without even realizing what it was. Then I played Dragon Power, the American import of the first Dragon Ball Nintendo game. After that I started noticing the crossover between video games and anime and became much more interested until I finally decided to try making my own anime, and so I wrote 7th Moon. Along the way I majored in Environmental Biology at the State University of New York College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry, but my dreams of actually saving the world have not gone so well, so I’m settling for writing about other people saving the world and hoping to inspire others the way anime and video games inspired me. Also, Final Fantasy (#6 especially) has been a big influence on me as well. If your interested in my personal life beyond that, sadly, I am single and I already covered everything else about me personally, I spent way too much time with Japanese entertainment for an actual life.
Naru- In my experience, there’s no such thing as too much Japanese entertainment. Now, for those who haven’t heard of it, what is 7th Moon about?
Joy- Seventh Moon is about Hidariude, a cyborg who was created by a company built on the Seventh Moon, a satellite colony orbiting Earth. They send him to Earth along with an army of genetically engineered super soldiers to take over, but one soldier named Kichiku protects an innocent child named Douji which is taken as an act of treason forcing them and a catgirl named Keisei to go into hiding at a remote Shinto shrine. They then learn martial arts and develop spiritual and psychic powers that make them powerful enough to overcome the entire army they have left behind. That much happens in just the first six chapters, the rest of the book covers the actual conflict. Mostly, the story involves a lot of anime tropes playing out in the context of Hidariude’s primary story.
Naru- Where did you get the idea for this story?
Joy- It started with just Hidariude, it was supposed to be straight up action like Samurai Jack. But then I decided to give Hidariude more of a backstory, I added Ryu as his mentor to teach him how to fight with a sword. Then came Kichiku who helped him balance fighting with a more peaceful nature. Then Seichei as his rival, then Douji as a catalyst, seeing an innocent in need. I ended up realizing I didn’t have a female lead and added Keisei, then realized giving him a love interest softened him up and that was really needed. Just trying to make that all work was the first six chapters, then I just sort of improvised the rest based on what I started.
Naru- What are some of your favorite novels that you’ve read?
Joy- As far as inspiration I would say Journey to the West. I also liked Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, and the Drizzt novels by R.A. Salvatore. WOOL by Hugh Howey was good and Trylle and Watersong by Amanda Hocking. Generally books like that, Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I laughed hard at Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I also like this one book called How Sarah Became a Nudist. I’m not sure I should go into detail on that last one, but let’s call it my guilty pleasure.
Naru- Tell us a little bit about the Silo Saga, and your contribution to it.
Joy- WOOL was an independently published novel by Hugh Howey and became successful enough that Amazon opened it for Kindle Worlds fan fiction, which is where you can publish fan fiction and get paid for it. I read WOOL at first simply because it was such a success story on the same platform I had started 7th Moon with, then decided to finish reading the trilogy to write my own fan fiction. I had an idea in mind which unfortunately I had to scrap as my research proved my idea wouldn’t work, but when I was done, certain events left me wondering “what happened after that?” I don’t want to give too much away but the story ends up revealing that things go awry halfway through the planned timeline of what was supposed to happen, which means that there are still 40 silos that are unaccounted for for 250 years. My book, Surface, describes what happens when time is up and these people have to deal with the consequences of the plan set for them not being in place anymore and how they handle the new situation they have been left with.
Naru- And you’ve written a paranormal romance novel called Red Ellen. What can you tell us about that?
Joy- Red Ellen is about a girl who discovers she is a fairy princess and the boys she likes are actually a werewolf, a wizard and a vampire and whichever one she chooses will decide the fate of her kingdom(Rochester, New York) as his faction will become dominant over the other two. I originally came up with the idea of the supernatural world by seeing that most modern fantasy revolves around the creatures that have human form. It occurred to me that the reason would be that humans would hunt any creature that could not simply hide among us and narrowed it down to the four or five major types represented in Red Ellen, werewolves, undead, changelings and mortal magic users(the one in question is spirits which have a shaky standing). I had a background, but couldn’t think of a story, but it seemed that paranormal romance is popular and decided to try playing with the formula and set it by my rules in my hometown to give us some publicity. Red Ellen is the first in a trilogy, each one will cover a year in her life from her birthday, which also happens to be St. Patrick’s Day, to Halloween. The first is when she turns sixteen, the second will be when she turns eighteen, the third will be when she turns twenty-one. The first book just introduces the reader to this world and the characters, starting with a crash course in what’s going on then settles into a slower paced story to make you familiar with everybody. The second book(Waking Dream) will cover some of the stranger aspects of the life of a changeling, including the other Ellen(changelings are when a fairy changes out a human child for a fairy replacement, so they always come in pairs). The last book(Riding the Dragon) is about how a protective enchantment forcing a truce between the undead and the fairies is broken when Ellen comes of age and concludes her story with a final conflict between her allies and her enemies and whether she continues to fight or surrenders her kingdom.
Naru- Like Stephen King with the state of Maine. Being a Rochesterian myself, I have to ask… What is the ‘magic’ of Rochester?
Joy- Literally, it’s the magical community, werewolves, wizards, vampires, fairies. I just want to bring attention to Rochester because I feel like the media focuses way too much on New York City and about four other cities in America. In the sequel to 7th Moon, I will reveal that the only cities left in America are New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Miami, because I would imagine anyone who doesn’t actually live in any other US city wouldn’t know there are any other cities. Have you ever noticed how many shows take place in New York City? And movies? And books? It sucks living in New York state outside of New York city because nobody knows we are actually here, so I want people to know about things like Dinosaur Bar-B-Q, Nick Tahou’s Garbage Plates, and the Lilac Festival(yes, all in Red Ellen). That’s the magic of Rochester.
Naru- Out of all the characters you’ve created, which one do you feel was your favorite?
Joy- Probably Hidariude by far because he’s the character I’ve been with the longest. He sort of sneaks in to all of the other stories in some way. He’s sort of my avatar into those worlds, I can truly only exist in reality, but Hidariude exists on all planes. Okay, I need to stop with that or this will become Space Dandy.
Naru- I’ve read that you studied science in school. Can you elaborate on that?
Joy- Environmental biology was a very fun subject, at least for me. I grew up near woods and had a strong appreciation for nature and I wanted to be able to protect nature. My plan was to join the Department of Environmental Conservation. My favorite class was Ethnobotany where I learned about how plants were used traditionally, mostly for medicine or food, or constructive materials(twine, lots of twine). I actually really considered being an ethnobotanist. For those who don’t understand, it’s like the movie Medicine Man with Sean Connery and is rather literally the modern equivalent of the ancient medicine men or shamans.
Naru- Your novels have been self published so far. Did you try at any point to get them legitimately published?
Joy- I did try to get 7th Moon professionally published. I went through a few channels and reached out to about two or three dozen, only half responded and all said no. Then I heard about the success Amanda Hocking had and how Trylle got picked up by a professional publisher after she had self-published through Amazon. I decided, after much thought(almost three years really) that I’d be better off self-publishing and building an audience and hoping to be picked up later. Also, 7th Moon was always supposed to be an anime, so my real goal is to get it adapted into a manga by Yen Press and then get adapted into anime style when I have enough of a fan base that I can afford it. Silo Saga: Surface had to be published by Amazon by its nature as a fanfic, copyright laws would nail me hard if I tried any other way. By Red Ellen, I had gotten used to the process and I learned from some other professionals that these days the difference isn’t quite what you’d think.
Naru- And what is that process like?
Joy- Self-publishing with Amazon is incredibly easy. All you have to do is follow their links on their site to the appropriate method of publishing and supply your work in PDF. From there the site gives you options to create your cover, get your ISBN and everything else yo need to publish. You can actually do this for free, they will provide everything and take the expenses out of what you sell. They give you a minimum price that covers their expenses and then you can raise the price to make your profits from the difference. Within 24 hours you are a published author. The hard part is the writing.
Naru- What can you tell us about the projects you’re working on right now?
Joy- Ooh, right now I’ve got three or four projects actually. If you go to Amazon Write On you can see a couple of my works in progress including the sequel to 7th Moon(I intend for there to be five books altogether) and Superfrenemies, a superhero parody about a superhero and his archnemesis who are also best friends. Yes, they actually know each other’s secret identities, they just have a very unique relationship, nemeses by night, friends by day, they’re Superfrenemies! Right now I’m trying to focus on Dragon Hand a Kindle Worlds fan fiction for the Foreworld Saga. The Foreworld Saga is a complicated one about a holy order of knights that through the whole series is spread throughout time, but originally the main story, the Mongoliad, takes place during the Mongol invasion of Europe in 1241. I’m still reading the Mongoliad to get a context for my story, but after finishing the first book in the trilogy, I got three chapters going. It’s a very rough draft and depending on how much it fits with the way the rest of the story is supposed to go it may need some more editing, but it should be out by the end of the year. as for the “or four” the last one is the sequel to Red Ellen which I have been brainstorming but haven’t yet written a single word because it’s my NaNoWriMo project and any writing before November would be cheating.
Naru- What sort of themes do you like to explore in your work?
Joy- I don’t usually think of theme too much, I think of a character and a setting and build around that, trying to find what helps things fit together. I suppose I like themes along the lines of the dichotomy of good and evil and also I like to explore family, where we came from and how we’re connected. I also tend towards a theme of minimalist versus maximization, my hero tends to have a single quirk, and the antagonist tends to be an extreme version of that quirk, comparing how everything is good in moderation.
Naru- Are there any links you’d like to supply for those who might want to check out your work?
Joy- I have an e-store where you can purchase a print copy of 7th Moon, http://www.createspace.com/3817088 and my trailer is on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aqh-QW9yjHQ aside from that, everything is on Amazon, I would simply recommend searching by title. Oh and there’s also my FaceBook page for 7th Moon, but it would be easier to just search it, believe me, I tried using the full address but it is way too long. I’m on tumblr and pinterest, but I’m not very active, you’d be better off just searching for the little I’ve got, but aside from links back to Amazon and YouTube those accounts are mostly just random anime fluff, but you might get a kick out of it. Finally I’m on Gaia Online and my profile (Hidariude) has some extra info since i actually started there before I published 7th Moon so I was using it as a brainstorming tool.
Naru- And finally, what would you like to say to the people who have supported you by purchasing your books, or who plan to after reading this interview?
Joy- THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH! I really appreciate you buying my book I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you continue to support the project as it moves forward(albeit ever so slowly) to becoming an anime.
Naru- And that’s the end of my interview, I hope you all enjoy it… It was a real Joy for me, and if you ever want to meet Michael Joy in person, you can find him every year in the Artist’s alley area at RIT’s Tora-con anime convention. He’s pretty awesome, so stop by and say hello. And with that, I’ll see you next week!