I was lucky enough to get a sit-down interview with Nozomi concerning the story ‘Solomon’s Prime Key’. Here’s how it went down!
1. How did you learn to become a writer? Any major advice?
I’ve been writing for about as long as I can remember, across a whole bunch of different projects. It’s only recently that I’ve found stories that are worth telling, and folks who are willing to take a chance on them (thanks again!).
In terms of advice, the fundamentals are always important, and you can find them anywhere. Write habitually, consume voraciously and so on. What’s been helpful for me, especially over the last 18 or so months, is to take that reading a step back and get to grips with the ideas behind the work that you love. I’ve done a lot of reading centred around different philosophies, histories, and modes of thinking, which has really helped me keep a firm grip on what I’m trying to say, and keeping me out of the weeds of aimless storytelling. If I ever get stuck on what I want to say next, I can revert back to that framework and figure it out.
2. What in particular inspired your story ‘Solomon’s Prime Key’ in The Book of Demons?
I think a lot of tales paint demons as inscrutable forces, inflicting their blessings on those who are brave (or foolish) enough to entreat them. I wanted to paint a different picture, and figure out what it would be like to slot demons into a world that is as close to ours as possible. How different would it be if, rather than call a service desk, you made an offering to a demon?
As it turns out, not very!
3. What have been the high and low points of your writing endeavours to date?
A lot of my lowest moments have been coupled with periods of manic creativity; escapism to deal with whatever’s going on in the real world, as it were.
As for high points, well – this interview is certainly one of them! I’ve never had the opportunity to answer questions about my writing before.
4. Has your own writing been influenced by any particular authors? How and why?
I want to show off some pretty nerdy influences here, so bear with me!
I can credit Phillip Pullman and Lemony Snicket as getting me into writing when I was a lot younger. Their stories made me want to tell stories of my own.
In terms of those voices who have most helped me hone my craft recently, I have to point my finger not at authors, but at writers in other media. Yoko Taro, for one, has a unique relationship to the craft of storytelling that encouraged me to take a view on how I was constructing my stories.
I’d also like to point my finger at Natsuko Ishikawa, as a woman who has created some of my favourite stories in the past few years. They’ve been a continual source of joy and inspiration during some, shall we say, troubled times.
Finally, I’d like to credit the work of Abigail Thorn for helping me be more honest about the kinds of stories I want to tell, why I want to tell them, and what they mean to me.
5. Why do you think fantasy and horror are so popular?
Abnegation is a powerful feeling, and it can be very tempting to point that way when it comes to fantasy’s popularity.
I think they both create spaces to explore alternatives to what our world has to offer, both for goor or for ill.
6. What’s your next writing project going to be?
I have two on the burner at the moment, a science fantasy novel and a more contemporary fantasy piece of work. I haven’t figured out the best way to get them out there, but keep your eyes peeled!
7. How can you stay in touch with me?
Twitter is the best place to say hi, ask questions, and generally keep up to date with my online stuff. You can find me @NozomiOkumura.I also have a site that will serve as a hub for the majority of my writing; you can find that here!