The streets of Tokyo are different at night. There is darkness behind the glitter and the neon lights, and people who prefer to stay in the shadows, to dwell in the underworld – whores, gangsters, the homeless, the lost. People like Sato. He’s part of this world, he always has been, but a feeling of change is lingering in the heavy air of the bustling city. A feeling brought to life by fateful encounters of solitary souls.
Shadow Shinjuku is a dark, yet magical journey into the depths of Tokyo’s nightlife and the depths of the human soul. Ryu Takeshi’s first novel is both a crime thriller and urban fantasy. It’s a unique and mesmerizing blend of the imagery of Japanese animation and film, the colors and details of street photography, and the mystical lyricism of soulful music. But above everything, it is a gripping story that doesn’t let go.
Hello book lovers! Today is a day where I will be writing another author spotlight for a well-accomplished author whose work I have loved. As you know book lovers I love learning about authors and the inspiration behind their work, it fascinates me and adds to the depth of the book because the reader will be able to better understand it. That is how the author spotlights were created because I soon discovered that you lovely readers ALSO love learning about authors, so I am excited to tell you a little bit more about author Ryu Takeshi whose book Shadow Shinjuku thrilled me from beginning to end. With today’s author spotlight, a biography of the author and an interview between me and Ryu Takeshi will be shared, and I hope that you book lovers enjoy reading it! To kick this off here is an author bio about the wonderful Ryu Takeshi
Ryu loves to write. It’s a way for him to find and explore new worlds, both inner ones and those outside. And this process is spontaneous and instinctive, his stories born out of a single image, following a path Ryu himself never fully understands – not its origin, nor its end -, immersed in the magic of the moment, and the magic of everything that surrounds us, the visible and the invisible. Ryu is a daydreamer, a believer in the magic of humanity, a friend to all the mystical creatures of the night, and a sucker for the visual beauty of anime. But above all else, Ryu is just a human being, like yourself.
Ryu was born in 1983, has a beautiful wife, a funny little dog, and a lovely daughter. He adores sumo, practices traditional kenjutsu, sometimes plays basketball (Go Denver Nuggets!), relaxes playing video games, watching anime and reading books. Oh, and he loves to eat! But who doesn’t…
Now, how wonderful does Ryu Takeshi sound?! Ryu Takeshi is a truly exceptional writer and I hope that you lovely readers have a read of the author’s work because you will not regret it! Please see below an interview between me and the author and I hope that you enjoy Ryu Takeshi answers to my questions, they are incredible and provide some great advice too!
Could you please tell us readers about your book and what inspired you to write your book?
Shadow Shinjuku is an interesting book, because it’s not easy to categorize. You can call it a crime thriller, or urban fantasy, or even magical realism, and it has a noir vibe. It’s a mash-up of all these, and I like it that it turned out like this. It definitely feels like me. And it feels like all the anime, movies, books and music that I like. And this, I guess, also reveals my inspirations. Yes, it was Japanese anime (some at least), different movies, but also stuff I read and listen to. I have these vivid, anime and movie-like images in my head when I’m writing, which makes my stories very visual. It would probably be interesting to adapt to the screen. And then I always listen to music too, it’s part of my process, so it all goes into the text. If I’d have to name some names and titles, I’d mention Murakami’s books, I’d mention Cowboy Bebop, Gungrave and Death Parade, I’d mention Nolan’s movies, both Blade Runner movies, the John Wick series, but also more lyrical films such as In the mood for love and Lost in translation. And the music is dark. Think of Nick Cave, of Scandinavian instrumentalists like Johan Johansson and Olafur Arnalds, of the Berlin club scene and Apparat/Moderat, and also some crafty post-rock like Oh Hiroshima.
What would your advice be for aspiring writers?
Enjoy your writing! Just sit down, open your laptop (or your notebook), relax, have a cup of coffee and a cake, and just write. It’s as simple as that. It’s art, and like any art, you have to enjoy it and let it flow if you want it to show you its true colors. Let it fly and be free. And then, you’ll be free, too.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing about a book?
It relates to my previous answer: it has to be written for the pure love of writing. You can feel the difference between the books that were written for an audience, and those that were written just for the sake of writing, because the author wanted to express themselves. I prefer the latter.
What is your writing process like?
My writing process is very spontaneous. I don’t have the plot or the characters thought and mapped out in advance. I have a vague idea of some of it, but it’s very little, really. Writing is a passion of mine, and it also allows me to go to different, new worlds, or return to old or lost ones. And for me to be able to go there, I have to really open my mind to it and be in the right mood. Otherwise it just doesn’t work. I tried planning and mapping, but it just doesn’t work for me. So, instead, I just find a nice coffee shop, order a flat white and a cake, put some instrumental music on, and start to write. And it’s then that all the ideas and the story emerge.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I never do research in advance, only when something pops up and I feel I need to look it up and learn more in order to be accurate. But it doesn’t happen often. That’s the beauty of writing fiction – you create your own worlds.
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or do you only write when you feel inspired?
Only when I feel inspired. Or, to be more precise, I write after work or on weekends, and I deliberately put myself in a zone and a mood where I feel inspired.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I should definitely read more! But I do have one big favorite: Haruki Murakami. Especially the Wind up bird chronicle and Kafka on the shore. Another favorite of mine is John Burdett and his Bangkok series. I like the complexity of Burdett’s protagonist, detective Sonchai. Currently I’m reading The Night Tiger, and I really like it.
Lastly, when can we readers expect to read more wonderful books from you?
You can read Abalone, a novella set in the world of Shadow Shinjuku. You just have to subscribe to my newsletter on my website, and you’ll get it for free. I plan to continue the story of Shadow Shinjuku later this year, and it’ll at least become a trilogy (with a prequel and a sequel), but if I feel like it, I might write even more.
Its official book lovers, I am obsessed with Ryu Takeshi! If you have liked what you have read about the author and are interested in learning more, then please do have a browse of the links below and be sure to have a read of the preview too! You will not regret it.
Goodbye for now book lovers,