It is Friday and that means it is time for the World Famous, soon to be Intergalactic Famous, News Sushi from our very own, Hamish Downie. Hamish brings us a decidedly different slant on Pop Culture as viewed through the lens of a non-native living in Japan.
Thank you Hamish, for your insights.
better get into the spirit of things…
That’s better. Still a better Joker than Jared Leto.
I’m going to get right to it today, we’ve got a gigantic interview that all of you are going to love… so hop in… I’m driving this car…
NEWS SUSHI… meets RICHARD LEE
TGG: Today, in honour of All hallow’s eve we have, Richard Lee, a New Zealand writer who is based in Osaka, Japan… Richard, for the readers who don’t know you, could you introduce yourself and your work?
RL: Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Who am I? Tough question.
Let’s see: I have had five novels published but all are with the small press. I started selling short stories in 2001 and entered self-publishing in 2004. At the same time, I ran one of the biggest writers groups on a Ning platform.
I used to write only horror, but in the past few years, I’ve tried to move away from that. I tried my hand at Science Fiction (without the science, hence Science Fantasy) and won SFReaders award.
Following this, I wrote a lot more pure SF short stories that found publication in Nebula Rift.
Horror seems to be the heartbeat driving all my stories, including the SF.
Recently, I discovered I like crime writing and am currently working on a PI thriller, based in Japan. I’m not quite sure where it is going as I’ve never written this type of story before. So, I’m winging it, and reading as many crime novels as my Kindle can handle.
I have an outline system I created and it works well for me. I’m writing a non-fiction book on the use of this type of outline, and to show it works, I’m using it for my current SF werewolf trilogy. The book will contain images and a real life example if I can find a publisher for the series. This is my second non-fiction book. The first was an intermittent fasting diet book based on me. Real life examples.
My current blurb:
Award winning author, Richard Lee, is a displaced writer of the weird, wonderful and grotesque. Since 2001 he has made an impact on the genre world and thrives within its limitless boundaries. Over seventy short stories have slammed his name on anthologies and magazines across the globe. Five novels impacted humanity and two novellas were the icing on the cake. He still sends his books out to independent and legacy publishers, looking for that elusive million dollar cheque.
TGG: I think we’re all waiting for that million dollar cheque! So, why horror? What attracts you most to that genre?
RL: It is exciting. Plain and simple. Movies, books, they blow me away. My first sales was a horror novel that no one discovered (LOL) in 1999/2000 and then the publisher went belly up. Horror and Science Fantasy are genres that enthralled me as a young kid. I watched The Omen (movie) when I was eight years old—secretly. I wasn’t allowed to watch it. Hard to stop a kid with a TV in his room.
I still get a buzz from a good horror flick. Final Destination series was the bomb. Totally loved them all. I’m hoping the new Halloween will do the trick.
I find horror writers work to take you out of this world and make the fake seem real, with believable characters and a dark or possible evil that befalls them. This builds the tension, the excitement, and if done well, provides a thrill ride. King’s novella, The Langoliers, did this expertly. Needful Things, The Dark Half, and Secret Window (books only) show this process clearly.
I just finished Lincoln Child’s book, Full Wolf Moon. It’s almost a “paint by numbers” book, but it is entertaining.
TGG: How do you find time for writing, and when you do, what’s your process like?
RL: Time. That’s the real hard part. Due to my work contract, I have no idea of what my work schedule is like until the night before. This mean I am unable to set up a regular time. In 2002-2006, I worked at an International pre-School. I was home by seven each night. I set two hours for writing. And due to habit, the writing flow effortlessly during those hours. Japanese trains are cram packed in rush hour, so I used to go to work at 6am, sit in a café for two hours and edit.
Over the years my writing process has changed. Now, I pre-outline each chapter, I write only in Scrivener and edit in Word. Due to my work schedule, I am forced to etch out time whenever possible. Usually, I can read what I previously wrote or the pre-outline and continue. I write on the bus, if it is a new bus (seat size and leg space are needed), the old buses don’t have much in the way of leg room and cramped up, is not good for writing. In such a case, I used my phone app, ‘Notepad-free’ and email it to myself. Later on the Mac, I open the email and copy-paste.
TGG: It’s amazing that you are so prolific without a set schedule. Hopefully that’s inspiration for all our readers hoping to follow in your footsteps. Now… The $64,000 dollar question, what brought you to Japan?
RL: Unlike most people, I never wanted to come to Japan. I loved being in New Zealand and I was making huge money back in 1993-95. Close to 70,000 a year driving a truck. Most of the drivers I worked with owned houses (plural) in their early thirties. I was headed that way as well.
In 1995, my first son was born. By the age of two, he was the most awesome kid in the world, better than all the other kids. However we noticed, that he never walked properly. He was born with severely bent legs. The doctors in NZL said they wouldn’t operate until he was a teenager due to stress. I thought that was a load of crap and my wife sent a letter to her sister in Japan with photos and she popped in to Osaka University hospital. One week earlier, a doctor who spent ten years in Italy performing and perfectly leg straightening operations, returned to work in Japan. We became his first case in Japan.
On April 24th, 1997, I landed in Osaka. I was instantly taken into a back room for forty minutes of questioning (never wear a leather jacket and blue jeans entering Japan, you fit a profile lol).
I sent the first three months in Japan, in a hospital room with my boy, sleeping on a cot with a bunch of mother’s doing the same. They were friendly and changed destroyed my first impression of Japan (which was negative) back to positive. It’s been positive since then, I even bought a house here.
I ended up teaching English as there was nothing else for me to do, as I had zero Japanese at that time. And the hospital bill was not small! I’ve been teaching ever since.
In case you are wondering, the operation was successful, he never suffered stress. He is now married with two kids of his own.
TGG: It’s good to hear stories that go against the cliche of the “Charisma Man”. I think there’s a lot of us that came here for different reasons, but we all get tarred with the same brush. By the way, we have a lot of creatives who read the site, so I have to ask (as someone who has done both), to self-publish or not to self-publish?
RL: Not self-publish. I know that Indy is all the rage at the moment. I say not to self-publish on a new release, seek a publisher, and get a pro edit on top of your edit. My books and short stories are available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, etc but that was after they were published and I got the rights back.
In 2004, I self-published, The Game and The Last Church. Both novels were held by a publisher for three years, and nothing was done. She did the same with all her authors. The power of The Game, missed its window. It was penned when online games were slowly becoming a thing. I used a self-publishing company iUniverse and the books did well. But when Kindle came along and the kindle boom, I lived like a King (lol). The Last Church hit number 3 and The Game, top 5. My biggest seller for several months was a short story and zombies in space. It still sells.
I guess the real question is: What do you hope to achieve with your book? Name recognition and cash? Probably try to get an agent. It’s tough but worth it in the long run (I believe). You have no control over your book.
Self-publish, if you are truly willing to really, really, really pimp that book, and I mean doing more than blasting Twitter every hour. What that is exactly, I can’t help you as marketing is kryptonite to my Super powers.
I’ll leave the final decision up to you. For me, I always look for a publisher first, and I’ve had a lot of shitty luck, non-releases, no sale reports, bad publishing (no pro editing), bad covers and sudden close downs. I now have an Australian publisher who had a good track record.
TGG: Speaking of self-publishing, recently you published a testimonial on your weight loss journey under a nom de plume… could you share with us a taste of your journey, and why the nom de plume?
RL: First the nom de plume was dues to embarrassment. I’m a shy guy at heart and socially awkward, though I try to hide it by being as social as possible.
My decision to write my journey in as much detail was not a conscious decision. People were commenting on the smaller clothes I wore and were shocked at my Intermittent Fasting lifestyle. I tried to explain the system but people were resistant. This started three years ago.
When I lost 20kgs, my wife suggested I write an article about it as a blog post, or something. I had my notes, my photos and training plan. I put it all together and it became a little book. No filler, just the details.
A couple of months ago, I remade the cover and put my name on it. The books sells well now, so I hope it helps some people. There’s a lot of information out there, most written by thin / bodybuilder experts and doctors.
Not a lot is written by the common dude down the street who took on this method before it became popular. So, I filled that niche.
View this post on Instagram
A system that works A plan to follow. Tested on me. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074WZPN39 . . @prilaga #fitgirl #weightlossjourney #weightlossinspiration #gymlife #weightlosstea #weightlosstransformation #losingweight #fitnesslifestyle #igweightloss #weightlossmeals #weightlosshelp #weightlossprogress #weightlosssuccess #weightlossresults #weightlossstruggle #coach #beforeandafterweightloss #diet #weightlosscoach #prilaga #weightlosssupport #weightlossdiary #fitnesslife #myweightlossjourney #eatclean #weightlossfood #weightlossmotivation #weightlossblog #pcosweightloss #weightlossgoals
TGG: Thanks for allowing me to share you story! Now, avid readers of News Sushi will remember the News Short story of your latest book (it’s a real page-turner – I’ve read a beta version of it) getting a publisher in Australia. Is there any news on when this book will be published?
RL: Yes. I heard this afternoon actually that the publisher is hoping for a January release. The cover is also in the works.
TGG: Very, very exciting! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed today, Richard! So, where and how can we support you (buy your books, follow you on social media etc)?
RL: I’m here:
Daily Motion: http://www.dailymotion.com/threeand10
Not so much on Facebook anymore. Twitter is my main hang out.
TGG: Thanks mate!
RL: Thanks Man!
I feel like some people will be able to relate to this…
“My work is kind of a salute to the misfits of the world. I feel like a misfit on the Danish art scene myself; there is a certain ‘jargon’ and code of conduct that I don’t really fit into.”
– John Kenn Mortensen pic.twitter.com/srF8G7B2L0
— 41 Strange (@41Strange) October 16, 2018
Japan has told citizens living in Canada not to partake in the purchase/use of Marijuana stating that it’s use overseas is still illegal under Japanese Law.
Here’s “Caroline” a Short Film that’s tearing up the internet at the moment. The skinny: In the middle of a Texas summer, plans for a babysitter fall through and six-year-old Caroline is left in charge of her two younger siblings. “Caroline” had it’s international premiere in competition at the Cannes Film Festival 2018, the only American short film to do so.
News Sushi favourite Kaori takes on Spiderwoman…
Female Venom… with News Sushi favourite Nina Bo’nina Brown
And before we go… here’s a Playlist of Horror Projects I’ve worked on:
And a playlist of the Best Horror Shorts From Whereisthrockhammer:
And finally, a Horror Short story from Richard Lee
Thank you to everyone for coming! See you all again next week…
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