Some thoughts with … Kyoko M.

8 Aug 2022

The Author/s

Kyoko M.

Kyoko M.

Kyoko M is a USA Today bestselling author, a fangirl, and an avid book reader. She has written the Amazon bestselling Black Parade urban fantasy series as well as the Of Cinder and Bone science-fiction dragon hunting series. The Black Parade has been reviewed by Publishers Weekly and New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews. Of Cinder and Bone placed in the Top 30 books for the 2021 Hugh Howey Self Published Science Fiction contest. She is also a contributor to Marvel Comics Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda (March 2, 2021). Kyoko M has appeared as a guest and panelist at such conventions as JordanCon, Geek Girl Con, DragonCon, Blacktasticon, Momocon, and Multiverse Con. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Lit degree from the University of Georgia, which gave her every valid excuse to devour book after book with a concentration in Greek mythology and Christian mythology. When not working feverishly on a manuscript (or two), she can be found buried under her Dashboard on Tumblr or chatting with fellow nerds on Twitter. Like any author, she wants nothing more than to contribute something great to the best profession in the world, no matter how small.

The Interview

Welcome back to one of my favourite sections on this blog, the one I interview the author of the book we are reviewing. Today we have invited Kyoko M., to talk about her book Of Cinder and Bone, her career, and the future.

Let’s dive in!

1.- What made you decide on the self-publish route instead of a more traditional one?

I actually began this journey intending to get traditionally published. I wrote The Black Parade in 2009 and shopped it around for two years, but the rejection letters piled up and I almost gave up. My father told me about self-publishing and I researched it for another two years until I had accumulated as much knowledge as possible and taught myself how to self-publish The Black Parade in 2013. I think what I appreciate about self-publishing is that my story was told as honestly as it could be. It was edited by several parties, but in the end, I was the one who decided what to keep and what to leave out of the story, so I think if nothing else, my self-published books are unfiltered and authentic.

2.- You have another series of novels called The Black Parade, what can you tell us about it?

The Black Parade was inspired by the 2005 film, Constantine. I saw the film and thought it was fantastic. I found its use of Christian mythology—which I studied at the University of Georgia—fascinating and I wanted to use that as a stepping stone to write my own take on heaven, hell, angels, demons, and ghosts. The story follows Jordan Amador: an alcoholic waitress who lives in Albany, New York. Jordan accidentally shot and killed a Seer: someone who can see and hear angels, ghosts, and demons. She has two years to help 100 souls crossover or she’s going to Hell. Right when she reaches her deadline, she runs into a curious poltergeist named Michael, and solving his murder unravels a larger conspiracy by the demons to take over the world.

3.- Of Cinder and Bone was a semifinalist on the SPSFC, how can you describe your experience?

It was rewarding. I was able to get some really great in-depth reviews. I also made a couple of new friends in the process. We’ve already worked on something together and I hope I’ll get the opportunity to work on a few more things with them. The downside is that the team I was assigned in the semi-finalist round did not judge my book in such a way that I thought was appropriate. At least two of them decided they didn’t like the book at first sight and dismissed it without reading further and while personal taste and bias are a natural part of book criticism, my book started off in that round with a huge handicap and I think the people who run the competition need to make the reviewers aware that they are supposed to make the decision based on the quality the work, not on if they dislike a kind of niche element in the story. I especially dislike that one of the people on the team mocked my book on Reddit. I felt it was unprofessional. I am glad I entered it, but I think the competition needs a better screening process for reviewers and to make the rules clearer when the reviewers are handling the books.

4.- From where did you draw the inspiration to write Of Cinder and Bone and to start a saga?

Like The Black Parade, the inspiration for Of Cinder and Bone came from films. The first is a relatively forgotten but entertaining film called Reign of Fire (2002). It was the first time I ever saw dragons viewed through the lens of science fiction and I thought it was a great idea to cast them in the light of realism. How would they behave if they were real animals? How would they affect the rest of the world? The second film is Jurassic Park (1993). I read the book as a teenager, but the movie has always been one of my favorites because of its discussion of Man versus Nature versus God and being a mashup of science fiction, action, and horror. I really wanted to dive into some of the ethical implications of cloning, but not for profit; rather, for study and education and possibly repairing the damage to the ecosystem by reintroducing an extinct species. It allowed me to cover a whole bunch of fascinating topics.

5.- I find particularly well written the relationship between Jack, Kamala and Faye; anything interesting you can tell about those characters?

It’s funny how our throuple came to be. I actually had a dream about Jack, Kamala, and Faye sleeping together in a bed. I don’t know why, but I was very struck by this image of them being in a loving polyamorous relationship. I think all three of them bring something very unique and likable to their shared romance. I think it ended up being a lot more interesting with their feelings reciprocated instead of just being your typical love triangle. There are a lot of hard parts of a relationship to navigate, but I think these three all have great chemistry and know how to take care of themselves as well as each other.

6.- How did the existence of dragons affect the world outside of the big fossils?

It had huge historical significance. For a while, dragon hunting used to be an entire profession. There were dragon hunters all over the world seeking fame and fortune by hunting them down. After the dragons were hunted to extinction, the world’s ecosystem changed and a lot of things lost balance from the absence of the dragons. That’s the main reason Jack and Kamala decided it might be a good idea to bring the non-invasive, less dangerous dragons back to life to study how they would affect the environment after such a long absence. I think it’s a significant difference from before and after, as the story shows.

7.-I find interesting the idea of using a Komodo Dragon as the incubator for Pete, but in real life, I’m so disappointed with how different is a Komodo from what we think it would be a dragon, doesn’t that happen the same to you?

Komodo dragons are very cool animals. I do find myself a little disappointed just because I’d love to see a flying reptile—or other similar species—just to know what it would be like to have something that large capable of flight. Dinosaurs allow us to theorize those types of things and part of me kind of wishes there were still some around to study.

8.- How did you decide to include the full mafia trauma?

One thing that drives me crazy in storytelling is having a relatively normal protagonist do something they would usually never have to do like hurt or kill someone in self-defense and yet the protagonist is totally fine afterward, psychologically speaking. I really wanted to explore the trauma of having to do something scary like that to protect your loved ones, because that doesn’t just go away. Everyone in Of Cinder and Bone has to live with the consequences of their actions. There is no easy way to deal with the yakuza. They are an impressively scary organization with their own entire system of how it’s run and what they stand for. I thought they were definitely a worthy adversary to our main leads. 

9.- What can we expect of Kyoko M in the future?

I have a space travel novel on its way from Falstaff Books. It should drop in the spring of 2023 and there will be two more books after that. I also have a short story in an anthology called Farther Reefs, which should be out in fall 2022. I am also in the recently released science fiction/fantasy anthology, Terminus II, published by the ever-talented Milton J. Davis at MV Media, LLC.