This week’s Story Time is the novelette that began the Yamada Monogatari series, “Fox Tails.” It was originally published in the June 2005 issue of Realms of Fantasy.
As I’ve said before, I originally conceived of Yamada no Goji as a sort of noir style detective in Heian Japan. Unlike some cases, I did know it was a series when I first wrote it. I don’t always know that, witness the Eli Mothersbaugh stories. What I didn’t know and couldn’t have imagined at the time was how much Yamada would evolve over the series from my original concept. Yamada had his own ideas, apparently, but I didn’t mind. Ill behaved characters are usually the best.
Mild spoiler alerts–mostly for those who have not yet read the Yamada book.
I’m an observer. By that I mean I try to pay attention to what’s happening around me. What people say, how they say it, what they do. How what they say often conflicts with what they do. That’s a natural state for me. People seldom become fiction writers if they don’t, at least to some degree, find their fellow human beings fascinating creatures. I don’t pretend to have any great insights, mind, but sometimes a story or book is just me thinking out loud about the subject of people, and why they do the things they do. Of course, it also means that I tend to keep my mouth shut in most social situations, which makes me very dull company. Yet even I know that sometimes you gotta face down the dog in his own junkyard.
So is this a blog post about my abundant shortcomings? In a way, yes. Or at least the perception of one. See, the reader response to Yamada Monogatari: Demon Hunter is, except for the volume of it, pretty much what I expected. A great many readers like it a lot or a little. Some think it’s a waste of paper. One or two think I’m a waste of perfectly good carbon. The usual. One thing I did not expect—though to be fair, I should have seen it coming—was the criticism of the women in Yamada’s world, or rather my portrayal of them. As one reader/reviewer pointed out, they tend to be demons like Lady Kuzunoha and Lady Abe or conniving schemers like Princess Teiko. And I thought about that for a little while and came to the conclusion that the reviewer was absolutely right. Yes, Lady Kuzunoha is a fox-demon. Yes, Princess Teiko is a schemer, and she did ruthlessly use Lord Yamada and her own brother to achieve her goal. But even as I conceded those obvious facts, my overall reaction remained something like, “And your point is?” Continue reading