There are a bunch of names I keep encountering as I wander the paths of indie or hybrid published genre fiction with Japanese influences. Of course there’s tons of other Japanese-influenced fiction under other categories (Traditional published, Asian authors, male, etc). I’m choosing to narrow down my focus on this particular subset— because, obviously, that’s who I am. And I’m not going to comment on cultural appropriation or anything like that. I know that we are not #ownvoices, but of the ones I’ve read, most are either thoughtful or researched portrayals of Japanese culture.
This is not at all an exhaustive list. Its just the names that are on my particular radar recently.
Crewe identifies as a YA author. She writes a variety of different YA series, but the one that caught my eye is this fantasy book. Sora’s life was full of magic—until she discovered it was all a lie. Heir to Mt. Fuji’s spirit kingdom, Sora yearns to finally take on the sacred kami duties. But just as she confronts her parents to make a plea, a ghostly army invades the mountain. Barely escaping with her life, Sora follows her mother’s last instructions to a heart-wrenching discovery: she is a human changeling, raised as a decoy while her parents’ true daughter remained safe but unaware in modern-day Tokyo. Her powers were only borrowed, never her own. Now, with the world’s natural cycles falling into chaos and the ghosts plotting an even more deadly assault, it falls on her to train the unprepared kami princess.
I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s on my Kindle Reader!
USA Today bestselling author Megan Crewe lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and son. She’s been making up stories about magic and spirits and other what ifs since before she knew how to write words on paper. These days the stories are just a lot longer. Her YA novels include the paranormal GIVE UP THE GHOST, post-apocalyptic the Fallen World series, the sci fi Earth & Sky trilogy, the contemporary fantasy A MORTAL SONG, and the supernatural thriller BEAST.
Andrews has a whole series of interrelated historical fantasy books featuring various (including fox tricksters and dragons) Japanese mythological creatures. Here’s the first one. This is heavy on the romance. If you like manga or anime, I’m pretty sure you’d like her stuff. To save her life, Rin must destroy Hikaru’s. Falling in love with him was never part of the plan. Rin enters the palace as a spy. If she can gain the prince’s trust, she will break the spell that turned her human. But without a voice, it might be too much of a challenge, even for her. She only has until the next full moon to do it, or she’ll be turned into a fox. But as her feelings for him grow, Rin is left with an impossible choice. Will she betray him to his enemies or make the ultimate sacrifice for love? Andrews’ tagline is “Strong Women with Heart” and that’s truth.
Nicolette Andrews is a romantic fantasy author who lives in the California in the United States. She’s been trapped inside magical world, heavily influenced by Southern California, for most of her life. She doesn’t likes to take life too seriously (or herself for that matter). Her favorite creative medium is writing, whether it is on paper, or on a computer but on occasion, she likes to pretend she can draw or even may attempt homemade gifts, with varied results. She enjoys cooking, baking and generally working with her hands. She spends most of her free time with her family: two daughters and a wonderful husband plus a few cats and a dog. You can connect with her via her website: FantasyAuthorNicoletteAndrews.com on Facebook or even Twitter.
Amongst other things, Baugh writes historical fiction novelettes featuring fox tricksters. Here’s the first one. The onmyouji Tsurugu no Kiyomori, a practitioner of the mystic arts, has been engaged to protect the warlord’s new bride from the fox spirit rumored to be near. Tsurugu and the shadow-warrior Shishio Hitoshi face an impossible challenge in teasing out a kitsune shapeshifter from the samurai and servants –- if such a creature is even present at all.
Here’s my review (5 stars)
Laura VanArendonk Baugh is an award-winning writer of speculative fiction, mystery, and non-fiction. Her works have earned numerous accolades, including 3-star (the highest possible) ratings on Tangent’s “Recommended Reading” list and praise from Publishers Weekly. Laura speaks professionally on a variety of topics throughout the year—in her day job she’s a professional animal trainer and behavior consultant, and for a hobby an award-winning costumer—and admits a mental turning point in her career when she realized she could buy that sexy red Tesla with her books! Find her at http://www.LauraVAB.com.
You probably already knew I wrote Urban Fantasy featuring a half-Japanese heroine as well as lesser known Japanese mythical creatures like dream-eating Baku, right? I started off by writing historical fiction (Tiger Lily) however. Here’s the first in my Portland Hafu series. Her whole life she’s avoided other people. Any skin-to-skin contact–a hug from her sister, the hand of a barista at Stumptown coffee–transfers flashes of that person’s most intense dreams. It’s enough to make anyone a hermit.
But Koi’s getting her act together. No matter what, this time she’s going to finish her degree at Portland Community College and get a real life. Of course it’s not going to be that easy. Her father, increasingly disturbed from Altzheimer’s disease, a dream fragment of a dead girl from the casual brush of a creepy PCC professor’s hand, and a mysterious stranger who speaks the same rare Northern Japanese dialect as Koi’s father will force Koi to learn to trust in the help of others, as well as face the truth about herself.
K. Bird Lincoln is an ESL professional and writer living on the windswept Minnesota Prairie with family and a huge addiction to frou-frou coffee. Also dark chocolate– without which, the world is a howling void. Originally from Cleveland, she has spent more years living on the edges of the Pacific Ocean than in the Midwest. Her speculative short stories are published in various online & paper publications such as Strange Horizons. Her first novel, Tiger Lily, a medieval Japanese fantasy, is available from Amazon. She also writes tasty speculative and YA fiction reviews under the name K. Bird at Goodreads.com.
Mysteries or Mysteries/Science Fiction
Okay, so this isn’t exactly Indie. It’s published by Minotaur Books. Forgive me fudging the categories 🙂 Spann has created this interesting sub-set of historical murder mysteries: ninja cozy. Pretty well researched, fun, not really tense but historically interesting mysteries featuring Hiro Hattoir, ninja master who serves a Jesuit priest. So very cool cross-cultural issues. Here’s the first one. When a samurai is brutally murdered in a Kyoto teahouse, master ninja Hiro Hattori has just three days to find the killer before the dead man’s vengeful son kills both the beautiful geisha accused of the crime and Father Mateo, the Jesuit priest that Hiro has pledged his own life to protect. The investigation plunges Hiro and Father Mateo into the dangerous waters of Kyoto’s floating world, where they quickly learn that everyone from an elusive teahouse owner to the dead man’s dishonored brother has a motive to keep the samurai’s death a mystery.
Susan Spann is a transactional attorney and former law school professor whose practice focuses on publishing law and business. She has a deep interest in Asian culture and has studied Mandarin and Japanese. Her hobbies include Asian cooking, fencing, knife and shuriken throwing, traditional archery, martial arts, rock climbing, and horseback riding. She keeps a marine aquarium where she raises seahorses and rare corals. She lives in northern California with her family.
Pajonas writes mysteries and science fiction. I’m particularly intrigued by the description of this mystery series as “The Daydreamer Detective is the savory starter to the Miso Cozy series of cozy mystery novels. If you like twisty plots, delectable food descriptions, and rural Japanese towns, then you’ll love S.J. Pajonas’ culinary tale.” Cause you know how I love food. And coffee. and Chocolate. I guess I”ll have to go buy this one.
She’s got her head in the clouds and a taste for solving crime…Mei Yamagawa is out of luck and out of money. After five years in Tokyo, she has little to show for it besides a laundry list of unrealized dreams. Left without a choice, she returns to her rural Japanese hometown, ready to be branded a failure by her relatives and rivals. At the least, she looks forward to seeing her best friend, until Akiko is accused of murdering her own father.