Hamish came up with this idea because he was accumulating too much material for his Famous News Sushi column and asked if he could do these mini-interviews. Why would we say no?
Thank you Hamish for being such a trooper for us. We really appreciate all fo your hard work.
Let us know what you think of these interviews in the comments below.
STA: Sure! My name is Sifton Tracey Anipare and I’m an author, teacher, dancer, and all-round nerd. I was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and raised by Ghanaian parents, video games, movies, and strange, unusual stories. When I was in elementary school I learned about (and became obsessed with) Japanese culture and began to dream of going there one day. After graduating from the University of Toronto with a double major in (brace yourself) Biology and Cinema Studies, I worked for the Toronto International Film Festival and was inspired to teach English overseas after working with many English Language Learners from Japan. The first years in Japan were the hardest, but deep down, I loved being there. One day, a friend introduced me to National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a. NaNoWriMo. I had always been interested in creative writing since I was a kid, but never to the extent of trying to write a full-length novel, so I thought I’d give it a shot and wouldn’t you know, I enjoyed it. I eventually returned to Canada to pursue teaching full-time, but I never quite got over “that story I wrote in Japan.” Over the years I worked on it every now and then and finally screwed up the courage to approach a publisher, and ta-da, here I am!
TGG: Could you tell us about your forthcoming book?
STA: “Yume” is a modern-day urban fantasy about demons, dreams, and a young woman trying to teach English in Japan. It’s slated to release by autumn of 2021. Anyone who knows me will see that the majority of “Yume” comes from my own personal experiences. Of course, I took liberties to make it the story it is now (as for what parts are based on real experiences or what stems from my own imagination, I’ll never tell…or maybe I will one day, I don’t know yet, we’ll see how the book does 😊) but at the time I needed 50 000 words to win NaNoWriMo, so it all started with me writing about how my day went, or a funny thing that had happened, or a not-so-funny thing that was said to me, or whatever I could write about that spiced up my story. My long list of anecdotes eventually turned into a young woman’s diary expanding on her teaching adventures. After [that] NaNoWriMo, I went back to what I had written every November and tweaked the story, adding to it and editing it; in time, I chucked the whole diary format and came up with what I have now.
I’m glad you asked about inspiration, because I’m quite proud of all the creative elements that appear in “Yume!” It’s got an eclectic, assorted collection of my favourite things in addition to all the things I love about Japan: anime, video games, books (particularly Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”), movies, food, and even colours had a hand in creating the story! I also based the story’s imagery on the sequel to this really twisted horror video game by American McGee called “Alice: Madness Returns,” which I absolutely love. The romance trope in Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” was also something I really wanted to allude to in my novel. And then, there’s the slew of extremely vivid dreams I had while in living in Japan that made their way into the book in some form or another. Maybe it was all the cakes and desserts I got hooked on there… but yeah, my dreams were so real back then they were almost like memories that I could recount days, even weeks after having them. It almost felt like “Yume” was talking to me in my sleep, painting the images I needed to write down, and it wasn’t going to leave me alone until I got every detail right. (Cue creepy music.)
TGG: What was the best part about living in Japan?
STA: Ooh, that’s a tough one. There are so many things that tie for first place, but I can sum them up by saying that in Japan, you don’t have to grow up! Video games and cartoons are popular, collecting toys is acceptable, stamp rallies and point cards are widely encouraged by various companies and businesses, and grown-ups go to Universal Studios Japan and the Disney parks all the time. They’re not just for kids! All the things I did growing up and got made fun of for as a child (and as an adult, if I may be honest) made me more likeable and interesting as a person trying to make new friends in Japan. There’s also the food. There’s so much more to Japanese food than just ‘raw fish.’ There’s okonomiyaki, kitsune udon, oden, takoyaki, tonpeiyaki, kushiage…all cooked, all delicious, and in a lot of cases, all-you-can-eat!
TGG: Now you’re making me hungry! Is there any advice you can give to other aspiring authors?
STA: Dropbox is magic. So is the automatic backup feature on Word.
TGG: Great advice! Where can we best support you?
STA: Yes, please support me! どうぞよろしくお願い致します!