As part of his Virtual Book Tour, the author Lloyd Kaneko is making a guest appearance on my blog. Find out more about his fascinating book, Kami Jin.
In my previous appearances, I talked about myself and a little about the synopsis of the book. What I would like to do with this time is focus very little about myself, but more on the historical background of Kami Jin, a little about the meaning of the title itself, my writing thoughts behind the story and structure and what readers may expect to see in the future.
A Little About Myself and Kami Jin
For those following the tour, pardon me for being a little repetitive. My name is Lloyd Kaneko and I reside a the suburb eleven miles east of my home town of Los Angeles in the City of Whittier, named after the famed poet John Greenleaf Whittier. My inspiration for writing, however, was fostered as a sophomore in nearby Montebello High School where I received creative writing exercises during my English classes. That eventually led to a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing from California State University, Long Beach where I learned the art of writing novels, short stories and poetry. My ultimate goal, however was to become a screenwriter while I attended classes offered by the Writers Guild of America, West.
Upon my return home, I was offered another job by an aerospace firm and worked there for over 6+ years experiencing the dark side of Corporate America and corporate politics. After that I worked for an financial institutional headquarters in the San Fernando Valley for 10 years before becoming a consultant to various other utility and engineering companies. After my last job as a training manager for a software development startup company, I was laid off and unemployed for four consecutive years. During that time, I experienced severe health issues which caused me to go on long-term disability and declared officially “retired” by the administrative judge. This opened the floodgates for my creative writing energies that had been held back for decades.
While recovering from a major operation of my cervical spine, I used the opportunity to tinker with the screenplay that had been sitting on the shelf collecting dust bunnies. After several abortive efforts, I decided, it was time to start afresh by writing the novel. The delay was, perhaps, a blessing in disguise -- for the story, not for me. It made me live though of the darkest days of my personal life having witnessed the dark and sinister side of capitalism. Much of it is well documented in Michael Moore’s movie Capitalism: A Love Story. In his movie, you didn’t see Corporate America coming to the benevolent assistance to those families in distress when they were losing their homes. Rather, they were being forced out of their domiciles with the assistance of local law enforcement. The movie falls short in failing to show viewers how people are treated when they are jobless and credit companies and banks continuing to harass their card holders in troubled times, practically blaming the card holders for losing their jobs. Then, having the audacity to permanently record comments on your credit history that you were delinquent on making payments without giving due reason why the payments couldn’t be made. Then, when you try to get a job, you are denied the opportunity because of a bad credit history when it really wasn’t your fault to begin with. After all, you were not the one to voluntarily terminate your job – that all done for you.
So while wrestling with the title, I wanted to give the subtitle of “A Manifesto from the 23rd Century.” But that was eventually dropped.
I originally wanted to entitle the novel “Paper People.” But during my title search with the U. S. Copyright Office, I found it was already claimed many times over. So, my alternative was to look for a translation. Since the protagonist was a native of a Pacific Island nation, more Asian if you will, I looked for a Japanese term that came close to the translation of paper people.
Eureka! “Kami Jin” was an exact fit, and it wasn’t claimed in the Copyright records.
Meaning of “Kami Jin”
“Kami” is a Japanese word that has a double meaning depending on how it is used and written (such as, the Kanji or Chinese character(s) that is associated with it). Read one way, it can mean “paper.” In another way, kami can also translate to “deity” or “godly.” The Japanese word “jin” translates to “person” or “people.” So, in essence, “Kami Jin” can be translated into the English title “Paper People.” But, the term “Godly Person” can also be applicable as well. My original intent was to underscore the paper people emphasis. But the plot of the story also lends itself well to the “godly person” aspect as well. So coincidentally, I was able to “kill two birds with one stone.”
Synopsis of Kami Jin
In the 23rd Century, A. Gordon Sakata observes that people of the dystopian nation of the Republic of North America are treated as discards – or, as he describes it, “kami jin (paper people).” With a national unemployment rate of 95%, people are losing their jobs daily to droids. He becomes a victim of automation, becoming homeless himself; works as a circus elephant caretaker. Eventually, he is forced into a concentration camp when war breaks out and taken into the mountains to die. As a survivalist, he becomes enlightened on the mountain and gains insights to eradicating the world of poverty and homelessness; rescued by his lovely extraterrestrial wife and transported to a distant utopian planet where he lives a heavenly new life; eventually inherits the throne as Emperor of Xychron. He then returns to Earth to save the oppressed and takes them to a land of paradise. The former earthlings consider him as the “chosen one.”
Current Issues with Kami Jin (from a reader’s perspective)
After getting some feedback from readers, I guess my experiment wasn’t very successful. My original intent was for the readers to get the impression that Gordon, through the first read, was recording events into his bionic arm. Then, just before Part II, the reader is instructed to go back to the Preface. And re-read the press release. This then, becomes author Jason Shohara’s story as dictated by Gordon’s diary after he [Gordon] travels back in time to the 21st Century after the Earth has been put back together from committing nuclear suicide. Gordon travels back in time to deliver Jason his story with hopes that he can ultimately subvert the ultimate destruction of Earth in the 23rd Century by influencing history by travelling back to the 21st Century when all the problems started.
The first third of the story was designed to put the reader in darkness. This is why Gordon appears to be pontificating – and maybe this was overly done. But it was designed to give readers and experience of what it is like to be jobless or homeless. All of a sudden, you are adrift at sea, unable to navigate, wondering what is going to become of your life. Time passes by so slowly.
Frequently, you feel like your ship is rudderless. Sometimes you feel like you’re sailing in circles often coming to the same place you were before. Then, when you think are just you are just about die, you get a glimmer of hope – a shining star that guides you to end of a dark tunnel. Your boat begins to pick up speed as it travels faster towards this light. You don’t come to the end of a journey, but the beginning of a new life, a new day.
To those readers who have already finished my book, I apologize for the confusion. I know some of you had to re-read portions of it to understand what was going on. Perhaps I should have incorporated a “How To Read This Book” section in the front of the book.
Future Planned Enhancements to the Story
Since completing the screenplay adaptation of Kami Jin, I realize that the book needs to get to a faster start. My present idea is to eliminate Gordon’s pontificating in the first third about his life and miseries in Corporate RNA and focus more on his personal and social life with Wendy (aka Kathy), expand a little more about Gordon’s experience as a circus elephant caretaker (as in the movie); and expand on Wendy’s character using more dialogue and dramatics. I think Gordon’s monologue for the first several chapters would easily put readers to sleep.
Of course, these are only my ideas. I consider my works to be a never-ending work-in-progress. As with many other artists, I’m always shaping and reshaping. And having been in a customer service oriented business for a large part of my life, I aim to please and always welcome comments to make my products better.
You can give me feedback by writing to me at my email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to my forum page at my website at http://www.lloydkaneko.com/kami-jin-forum.html.
Besides writing, another art for that I enjoy very much is cooking. I love to create new dishes and experiment by enhancing with variations on existing recipes. Generally, I use these same skills as I am writing. So, you might say I’m always out to create that “perfect” dish be it on the dining table or in the form of a book.
Writing Projects in Progress/Planned
I’m currently working on the prequel to Kami Jin entitled Legend of the Crescent Eagle. The story traces Gordon’s ancestors’ immigration to the United States from Napajan through Mexico during the 20th Century before World War II and will also reveal more detail about the original interplanetary voyage to Xychron in ancient history. The story will also reveal the history and origin of Gordon’s heirloom ring and the extraterrestrial materials used to make it. I do have a non-fiction book on the back-burner that is currently in research. But my primary focus are on my fiction novels and screenplay that is currently in competition.
Advice for All Writers and Readers
In Kami Jin, I painted a rather dismal look at what our resources would look like in the 23rd Century after we have over-harvested our trees leaving barren forests in our mountains. Eventually, the price of electronic devices for books will come down and I encourage writers to write for e-books and readers to invest in electronic book devices and e-books. But until that time, I want to encourage you to recycle your books properly by sending your books to friends of the library, prisons, charities and other organizations that can reuse your books. If there is nothing nearby, send them to proper book recycling centers near you where books can be properly disposed of. Please don’t send your books to the nearest land fill.
And, write to your Congressional representative and encourage him/her to support the production and farming of hemp as a cash crop and also as viable alternative source for paper. Besides paper, hemp also has other medicinal benefits and textile benefits. It is a good source of Omega 3 and 6, plus is also a good resource for clothing as an alternative or supplement to cotton. All around, it can put more people back to work. It can also put more farmers to work – and, our farmers need the work! Farmers can be a writer’s best friend, plus, we need to do all we can to save the trees!
Where You Can Get My Book:
Trade Paperback format--
Where to Find Me:
Where you can see me live in person:
Meet the Author and Book Signing
Saturday, June 12 and Sunday, June 13, 2010
12:00 – 5:00 P.M. (Both days)
1501 Irving St.
(between 16th Ave. and 17th Ave.)
San Francisco, CA 94122
Telephone: (415) 731-2723