Friday, May 14, 2010

I.J. Parker

Shamus Award-winning author I.J. Parker talked about her series of novels featuring Sugawara Akitada, who works as a minor official in the Ministry of Justice in Heian Kyo, capital of Japan in the 11th century, with J. Sydney Jones. A small part of the interview:

What things about eleventh-century Japan make it unique and a good physical setting in your books?

I can’t speak for others, but I’ve always liked foreign locales for my own reading. Eleventh century Japan encompasses a complex, colorful, and remarkably sophisticated world. You find raw violence as well as strict formality, strange superstitions and enlightened teachings, and great power and wealth alongside extreme poverty and suffering. Both the refined and secluded world of the ruling nobility and the sturdy and lively one of soldiers, peasants, and merchants make possible a wide variety of plot choices and settings.

Did you consciously set out to use historical Japan as a “character” in your books, or did this grow naturally out of the initial story or stories?

I’ve never thought of setting as “character” and don’t know how that would function. Setting and its description can set a mood or atmosphere, suggest action, and support theme, but character for me is always the human factor. I do use setting consciously both to set mood and support theme. Occasionally, a particular setting is included because it is typical for the poetic awareness of nature in Japanese poetry and prose. My plots are almost always suggested by...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue