Monday, September 28, 2015

[Author Interview] Getting the 411 on Blossom Among Flowers from Jay E. Tria

I have been on a hiatus for several months already, and this week, I decided I needed a break from my off-line life. Luckily, I've come across author Jay E. Tria!

One could say that it was fate which led me to virtually meet author Jay E. Tria on Twitter through fellow author Anne Plaza's fan-girly tweets. Or you know, I was being nosy and she was nice enough to talk to me about our shared love for words, Japanese visual novels and JDoramas (Japanese Dramas). Either way, I scored an Author Interview out of it!

Writing a novel that's also like a manga is a novelty. 
What made you decide to write this kind of story?

It started with the frustration that Hanazawa Rui did not end up with Makino Tsukushi in Hana Yori Dango. So I guess this is a fanfic of sorts, fueled by a lot of pent up feelings and my enduring love for Rui. I was writing it with no outline, as if I was writing dorama episodes or manga volumes, guided only by a very clear image of Takeshi and Hikaru in my head. To be honest, I didn’t know how to finish it. It kind of got out of hand; I spewed out 165k words for the first draft. And at first I was writing it only for my fellow HYD fangirl. She lovingly read it and we giggled over it for days. Every so often I would come back to the manuscript, read it again and feel something again, and I would edit it, write some more. This year, about five years since the first draft, I realized I still love the story very much, so I decided to put in some real work and get it out there.

(Aaaahhhhh, I remember being a Hana Yori Dango fangirl... Still am. haha! Thank God for Hana Yori Dango, and the phenomenon that was the F4!)

What were the difficulties that you encountered while writing this story considering that you're writing about Japanese culture?

The most challenging part was shifting from fangirl mode to proper writer mode, and that meant doing actual research. I was writing BAF based on things I saw in doramas and manga, and soon enough I realized some of those things may not be based on facts. Haha. So when I sat down and worked on the ‘final’ draft I ransacked the Internet for things to make the setting and the culture seem authentic. It was hard when you’re an outsider looking in with just this childlike fascination of the culture. But it was fun work. When I was finally able to set foot in Japan, I was so relieved that I got a lot of things right, though of course surely there are still some mistakes here and there. 

Hana Yori Dango is obviously a heavy influence in this story. 
What then sets Hikaru apart from Makino, and Takeshi from Doumyouji?

I gave Hikaru a manga obsession, and now that I think back, this was because I was collecting Hana Kimi while I was writing this. Character-wise, Hikaru and Makino both preferred to blend into the wall, but were spunky girls who would fight back when necessary. Hikaru though, unlike Makino, liked being invisible not only because she wanted a peaceful life, but mostly because she thought she was mediocre, and she had grown to accept that. She didn’t have big dreams, she hardly thought about the future, and she was content with living vicariously through the characters in her beloved manga. It was joy trying to coax her out of that shell she built around herself.

Takeshi, on the other hand, is a Doumyouji-Rui mashup. The only son of an old rich family. Beautiful, calm, cool, and stubborn, with a tendency to be aggressive when provoked. He is a genius, and that ups his snobbishness because he tends to look down on others less smart than him, and it also makes it harder for him to connect to people, even his childhood friends. He is quiet, but his introversion hides a brewing storm which Hikaru brings out in him. Like Doumyouji, he is a fighter too, and he is quick to form his own convictions, only that he fights in a less war-freak way.

If your novel would be turned into a manga, which mangaka would you prefer to draw the characters?

I loved Hana Kimi. It’s my only complete manga collection, so I have to say Hisaya Nakajo.

(*nod* *nod* I approve. Hana Kimi was one of my all-time favorites, too. Although I don't have the complete manga collection. *sigh* To be young and broke.)

If you could choose which actor and actress could play Hikaru and Takeshi, who would they be?

Oguri Shun and Inoue Mao, no question. I realize they are much older now, so if we could turn back time to their HYD ages, that would be awesome.

(I knew it! Oguri Shun is one of my favorite actors, too! He was adorable in Hana Yori Dango and my heart totally rooted for him even though I knew he was only second lead. *sigh*)

Blossom Among Flowers
By: Jay E. Tria
July 15, 2015
New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Goodreads // Amazon

If you would be interested to read my review of Blossom Among Flowers, you can check it out HERE.

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