Toru: Wayfarer Returns
by Stephanie R. Sorensen
GENRE: Historical Steampunk Fiction
A nation encircled by enemies
A noblewoman with everything to lose
A fisherman with everything to prove and a nation to save.
In Japan of 1852, the peace imposed by the Tokugawa Shoguns has lasted 250 years. Peace has turned to stagnation, however, as commoners grow impoverished and their lords restless. Swords rust. Martial values decay. Foreign barbarians circle the island nation’s closed borders like vultures.
Tōru, a shipwrecked young fisherman rescued by traders and taken to America, defies the Shogun’s ban on returning to Japan, determined to save his homeland from foreign invasion. Can he rouse his countrymen in time? Or will the cruel Shogun carry out his vow to execute all who set foot in Japan after traveling abroad? Armed only with his will, a few books, dirigible plans and dangerous ideas, Tōru must transform the Emperor’s realm before the Black Ships come.
“No, daughter. You are not coming with us.” The daimyō looked down at his daughter’s norimono palanquin.
She signaled for her bearers to lift her up.
They looked to her father for instruction.
“No!” he bellowed, but his voice bore hints of the frustration of a man who knows he is beaten before the battle even begins.
She signaled once again for her bearers to lift her up. Caught between their implacable mistress and her fierce father, the men looked miserable.
“This is no journey for a woman. We will be gone a week. We have to travel through hostile territory. It is the mud season. There are bandits on the road. We have to move swiftly. Your mother would not approve.” Reasons poured out of the daimyō, endless reasons, all of them quite reasonable, at louder and louder volume.
His daughter made no answer. She merely motioned for the third time for her bearers to lift her up.
“Toranosuke! I command you, stay here!”
At her nickname, the girl finally popped her head outside the norimono in a most unladylike manner. She beamed at her father in joyful triumph, confident now in her victory. “Hai! O-tō-sama! I will stay here! For one hour. To make you happy. And then I will follow you, dressed as a man, riding on a horse, wearing your old hakama. If I obey you and stay here for that hour, you will force me to face the mud and the bandits alone. Surely it is better for me to travel under your protection. You cannot make me stay here. And I will follow you, Father. You know I will.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Stephanie is a writer based in the Victorian mining town of Leadville, Colorado, where she lives at 10,251 feet with her husband, five chickens, two bantam English game hens and one Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. After a former life in big cities-New York City, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Boston, Mexico City, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Santa Fe-she now enjoys the birdsong and quiet writing time she finds in Leadville. Her first novel draws on her experience living and working in Japan; her next historical novel is set in Mexico where she also lived for several years. As a Leadville local, she likes her Victorian attire spiced with a little neo-Victorian futurism and the biggest bustle possible.
Recognition for "Toru: Wayfarer Returns"
-- Finalist, Fantasy category, 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
-- Bronze Medal Award, Multicultural Fiction category, 2016 eLit Book Awards
Author website http://stephaniersorensen.com/
Author Facebook https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011148014463
Publisher website http://palantirpress.com/
Publisher Facebook https://www.facebook.com/people/Sassa-Margot/100010457895534
Publisher Twitter https://twitter.com/SassaMargot
Historical Novel Society review https://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/toru-wayfarer-returns-sakura-steam-series-book-1/
INTERVIEW with Stephanie R. Sorensen
Do you have any tattoos? Where? When did you get it/them? Where are they on your body?
Haha, no! I do not. I do have two pretty amazing seven inch scars on my hip and a giant titanium spike jammed into my thigh, though, so that should count for something. I’ve been pondering integrating my beautiful scars into a tattoo, but haven’t come up with a design yet. At my age, you kind of want to wait another ten years to let everything settle before applying permanent ink. I’m also concerned about quality—you want something that looks good and wears well. I’d have to do a bunch of research to find a good ink artist and I simply haven’t the time right now.
Is your life anything like it was two years ago?
I love these questions. Again, no! I was in the business world, working hard at whatever. The details are unimportant here. Suffice it to say I wasn’t liking it much. I woke up one morning and decided I was done with all that, sick of it all. I wanted to write. And there were no reasons, practical or otherwise, to wait one more minute. Or there were reasons, practical reasons, but I no longer could make myself care. So I started working on “Tōru” and dedicating myself to writing and marketing my writing full time. I also do a lot of community stuff, like helping run the local community market and serving on non-profit boards for causes I care about, but the focus of my life is now about being creative, not working for someone else. I still work, part time, because I need to do so, but what I think about and care about is the writing, the craft, the promotion of it, being a writer in the world. Not the writer with stories hidden in the drawer, but the writer out and about in the world.
How long have you been writing?
In one sense, all my life. Little stories when I was a kid. Some contests as a teenager. Mail order writing correspondence courses in my twenties. All the way to Japan, where I was living at the time. When the interwebs were finally invented, online courses in creative writing, screenwriting. I kicked over the traces once before, about fifteen years ago, quit another business job and moved myself to Los Angeles to write screenplays. Wrote a bunch, optioned one, got some semi-finalists in a few competitions, got into the Master Screenwriting Workshop at UCLA and worked with an amazing group of eight other writers for about three years. I kept chickening out and going back into the business world. Why? Because I liked to eat and pay my bills. But two years ago, I declared that part of my life done. Now I write.
What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
Get better. Keep creating. Be brave when the hits come. Get better. Keep writing. Share your work so you can get better.
Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
Watch the side characters, especially Jiro and Masuyo. They are where the life and creativity comes out, where the fun is. My protagonist Tōru tends to be a bit serious, well-behaved, proper, kind of the super-ego of the book. “Majime,” to use the Japanese word for that earnest, serious way of being. He marches along where I tell him to, dutifully getting where he needs to go. He only gets to express emotions by a twitch of his jaw and the pulse beating in his neck. Poor fellow. Not so the others. Jiro is the id, the irrepressible. He wasn’t even supposed to be in the book, but he showed up and took over and now is many readers’ favorite character. He drinks too much, he speaks out of turn, he disobeys his betters, he causes havoc, and he gets stuff done. He’s campaigning for his own book, and I’m inclined to let him have one. And Masuyo! She needs to be a proper, well-raised young lady. And she is, but she is also unstoppable, knowing she’s breaking rules but knowing she needs to do so, because so much depends on her. So they are true to their culture and yet they break barriers, and I gleefully egg them on from the sidelines. While making poor Tōru march along. Doing his duty. Which is very Japanese. American readers don’t understand why Tōru has to be a stiff and Jiro gets to have all the fun, but so it is.~~~~~~~~~~~~~
One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.