Please tell us a bit about yourself:
Tell us about REMOVED:
REMOVED is a New Adult Science Fiction Romance, and the first in a series of four novels. The story is about a young woman, Sanaa, who lives in a future post-apocalyptic domed city populated almost entirely by the Japanese. She is a successful and smart engineer, but she is taken suddenly from her job and tasked to help follow the main crime leaders of her city, the heads of the three major Japanese clans. During the course of her new job, she’s asked to also learn how to swordfight so that she may defend herself. Her new job is quite dangerous. She falls in love with her young teacher, Jiro, and, through him, becomes aware of secrets about her family and the city she’s lived in all her life. Discovering the truth about both her family and city will put more than Sanaa in peril. It will bring about a major change to the entire city.
What inspired you to write this particular story?:
I grew up in love with science fiction. I wanted to be an astronaut and travel the stars (didn’t we all?), and the stories that always resonated most with me were the ones far into the future with humanity well and gone from Earth (Herbert’s Dune and Asimov’s Foundation). I liked to see how an author could extrapolate a far future based on the here and now, but I always wondered what happened to Earth. What made them get up and leave? So it was my intention always to write a series about the generation that picked up and left Earth to colonize the stars. It wasn’t until the earthquake and tsunami of 2011 that hit Japan that I got the idea to make my last survivors Japanese. Japan showed amazing resilience in the year after the earthquake. Within six months, the region hit by the tsunami was cleaned up and transformed back into buildable land again. I saw the before and after pictures and thought, “If anyone is going to survive the end of the world, it’ll be the Japanese.”
Please share a favourite snippet from your book:
“Sanaa, this is Koichi Itō, and his son, Jiro, whom you’ve met before. As you have probably guessed, you will be learning to sword fight with them.”
Fantastic. A guy who is totally my type and any prospect of romance is about to be submarined by a business relationship, a teacher-student relationship. How the hell am I going to pull this off when I’ve already flirted with him once before?
Jiro is studying me, gauging me like Sakai often does. This must be a family trait. Looking at the three of them together, they are definitely related. They could all practically be triplets in their Nishikyō grays and solemn expressions. I sigh and turn to Sakai for reassurance as he lays a hand on my shoulder. This is not what I expected to happen today.
“Sanaa, I know your mother never cared for sword fighting, but, since you’re already more than proficient in karate, I figured this was the next logical step.” Sakai turns to Jiro. “Don’t think she can be easily defeated, Jiro.”
Sakai is boasting about my skills? I want to tell him to shut up before he gets me in trouble, but he seems sincere. “She has her father’s determination.”
Sakai’s eyes are hard on Jiro, and the two stare at each other stonily before Jiro gives in.
“Hmmm, we’ll see,” Jiro says, walking to the wall of wooden swords. Uh oh. I think I’m about to be tested. Too much talk.
He takes two of the smaller swords and tosses one to me which I fumble and drop on the ground. I am so unprepared my face practically bursts into flames. I reach down and pick up the sword, copying Jiro’s stance, but he hasn’t made a move to lunge at me like I thought he would. Instead, he is watching me stare at the sword.
“It’s real wood!” I exclaim. The strong grain weaves up the side, and I follow the wavering line all the way to the tip with my fingers. The sword is nicked and dented more times than I can count.
“We’ve had them for centuries.” Jiro smiles at me, holding his sword tip-down in front of him. “Passed down through our family for generations. Newer ones are available, but they’re all composite.”
I heft the sword in my hand. Light but sturdy. Surely fighting with a sword can’t be that different from fighting with your hands. What have I gotten myself into?
Which comes first for you – a character's looks, personality or name?:
Personality comes first! I’m an amateur astrologer (which goes against all my scientific upbringing, I know), and I tend to be attracted to the personalities of different signs first before realizing they’re a character with a name. I knew I wanted to make Sanaa a Capricorn and Jiro fit everything a Scorpio is. I know the signs of all of my characters and have a cheat sheet with all their birthdays for further analysis. For the recent romance (not scifi) that I just wrote, I knew the female lead had to be a Sagittarius. A character’s sign speaks to me before they do.
Any tips for aspiring authors?:
Find what works for you and go with it. It took me a long time to feel comfortable to write because I was always taught to write an outline first. I hate outlines! Just the thought of writing one makes me want to cry. I let the idea for REMOVED sit for seven whole years while I tried to write outlines and synopses first. I wish I could remember who told me to just sit down and write, forget about the outlines, because I could kiss him/her right now. I write by the seat of my pants, and it works for me. Don’t try to go against your very nature. If writing outlines works for you, do that. If pencil and paper works, do that. Do what you need to do to write.
Questions for fun:
If you had the power of time travel, is there anything you would go back and change? Why/why not?:
Honestly, I would go back and figure out how to fix the Middle East conflicts. The continual fighting there makes me extremely sad and weary. Before you ask, I have no particular viewpoint, just that I wish there could be peace there.
What super-power would you choose?:
Invisibility. Most days I want to be invisible and not be bothered. It would be nice to just disappear when the situation demands it.
If you could have three wishes, what would they be?:
To always be fit and healthy without having to work for it (I love to exercise but want to do it just for fun). To have the weather around my home be continually summer (I live in the right area, wrong climate). To travel the world easily (I need a transporter that gets me there and back home quickly).
Coffee, tea or wine?:
Tea and wine. I love coffee with a passion but it doesn’t agree with me right now. I hope to try again in six months. Wine every evening. It’s part of my wind-down routine, and I love it.
What is your favourite book? (aside from one of your own!):
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. It continues to blow me away even after several readings and years later.
Favourite genre and why?:
Science Fiction because it continues to thrive and evolve, and its subgenres are diverse. I can have science fiction and adventure and romance and mystery. There’s a wealth of topics and themes worth exploring.
Purple. (This question always reminds me of Monty Python).
Upcoming news and plans for the future?:
The second book in the Nogiku Series, RELEASED, will be available December 17th, 2013! I post teasers and excerpts to my website weekly at http://www.spajonas.com. I’m releasing these two books in the series quickly and then will roll out the others over the course of 2014 and early 2015.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!
Duty knows no family. Love has no price. Secrets can cost you everything.
Twenty-year-old Sanaa Griffin, a sweet and smart half-Japanese girl, is about to get more than she bargained for when she wishes for love and excitement on New Year’s Eve 3103. Mark Sakai, who knows more about her than any stranger should, thinks Sanaa is the perfect person to spy on the heads of the three biggest Japanese clan leaders in Nishikyō. He wants her to gather enough evidence to keep them from going to war when they land on Earth’s colonization planet, Yūsei. Nishikyō, built by the Japanese 300 years ago to house the rest of mankind, is failing and everyone is preparing to leave.
Sakai has known Sanaa’s family all her life but she knows nothing of him! And despite all the time they spend together, he keeps his distance from her. Then one day, he brings her to Jiro, his nephew, to learn sword fighting, and it changes her life irrevocably. Between falling in love with Jiro and the information she is gathering on the clans, Sanaa realizes Sakai is holding back secrets about her family and her deceased parents, secrets as to why she was chosen for this job, and learning the truth puts her and all of Nishikyō in danger.
REMOVED, a New Adult Science Fiction Romance, is the first book in a captivating post-apocalyptic series that harnesses the cultures and traditions of Japan and sweeps them into the future between Earth and a faraway land.
Buy Links and Goodreads:
Amazon (Paperback): http://amzn.com/1940599032
Amazon (Kindle): http://amzn.com/B00F4IE978
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940148646532
REMOVED on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18366156-removed
RELEASED on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18674881-released
Author profile on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7233209.S_J_Pajonas
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/spajonasFacebook: http://www.facebook.com/SJPajonas