September 2, 2015
Hello everyone and welcome tour our stop on the
The Suffering by Rin Chupeco
blog tour, presented by Sourcebooks!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
Over the last year I've gone against faceless women, disfigured spirits, and grotesque revenants. Some people keep dangerous hobbies; skydiving and driving at monster truck rallies and glacier surfing. Me? I cast my soul into the churning waters of potential damnation and wait for a bite.
It’s been two years since Tark Halloway’s nightmare ended. Free from the evil spirit that haunted him all his life, he now aids the ghostly Okiku and avenges the souls of innocent children by hunting down their murderers. But when Okiku becomes responsible for a death at his high school, Tark begins to wonder if they’re no better than the killers they seek out.
When an old friend disappears in Aokigahara, Japan’s infamous ‘suicide forest’, both must resolve their differences and return to that country of secrets to find her.
Because there is a strange village inside Aokigahara, a village people claim does not exist. A village where strange things lie waiting.
A village with old ghosts and an ancient evil – one that may be stronger than even Okiku…
Describe your book in 140 characters or less (like a Tweet)
Dead girl hunts murderers and encounters a boy with a deadly, supernatural secret.
What was your inspiration for writing this book? Was it in a dream? A thought while taking a walk?
It’s more like a private joke than anything else. I used to work in an old building with shoddy lights and a barely functioning elevator, and I would usually inadvertently frighten the other building denizens with my long-haired bug-eyed Asian girl features in the near-dim clocking out after one of many nights spent working overtime. They took to calling me Sadako (the original, Japanese version of the Ring movie was popular then) and I started thinking that like me, maybe ghosts weren’t as scary as they first appear. (I certainly wasn’t.) Maybe they still had a purpose even in death, and people were just biased because they were dead.
Tell us about the main character(s).
Okiku was never intended to be a protagonist the way one might envision protagonists to be. She was always the kind of girl who was destined in life to always be in a supporting role. Dying gave her character, so to speak. She spent most of her life as a servant and is therefore used to being on the sidelines, so her narration reflects that part of her that thinks she’s somehow still very insignificant despite her horrifying abilities. Tark, on the other hand, is a teenage boy who isn’t as snarky and as edgy as he wants you to believe, and he hides his compassionate nature under many layers of self-deprecation. Callie I would say is the warm and genuine heroine of the story – selfless, generous, at times flawed but willing to accept her own insecurities and overcome them.
Do you have a favorite quote or specific part in the book that you really love?
As far as first lines go, “I am where dead children go.” is one of my favorites, as it sets the tone for the rest of the novel with just that one line. That line’s been quoted the most out of any other line in my book, so I’d Iike to imagine that people think the same thing, too! Tark’s snark has a lot of quotable zing too; but we share the same kind of humor, so I might be biased.
Was there a specific part in the book that you had an especially difficult time writing? If so, why?
When compared to other books I’ve written since, this was surprisingly easy to write, considering that I began the book with no real plot in mind, just a vague idea of how I wanted my protagonist to be. The one main difficulty I’d had was writing a lot of Tark’s scenes. Tark started life as an eight year old boy, and I felt many of his scenes were too tame and passive, as he was scared almost all the time (like any reasonable eight year old boy would be, given the circumstances). I solved that by adding seven years to his age, and in the process he developed this wonderful snark as a coping mechanism, which made the book a bit more interesting.
What sort of projects do you have going on right now. Any new books coming out?
There’s a new series I’m working on tentatively due out next year, titled The Bone Witch. It’s going to be reminiscent of Memoirs of a Geisha, but with corpses. It’s got a heroine who may not necessarily be as nice as she appears, and where everyone literally wears their hearts on a chain around their necks. It’ll have huge monsters and rune spells and oracles. It’s a place where you can sew magic into clothes and wear them like armor.
It was great having you on the blog today! We hope you’ll decide to stop by again someday, and we wish you much success in your writing future!!
Thank you so much for having me!
It’s still early morning when our group is given clearance to enter. Aokigahara is a deceptive forest. It has all the hallmarks of a popular tourist destination: narrow but well-maintained hiking trails with a surprising amount of litter, not to mention strips of tape and ribbon wrapped around tree trunks. The leader explains that hikers use them as markers to maintain their bearings. Later on, one of the other volunteers whispers to us that some of the tapes were left by those who came here to kill themselves, in case they decided to change their minds. The revelation horrifies Callie.
A few miles into our hike, anything resembling civilization disappears. Roots crawl across the hard forest floor, and it’s easy to trip if you’re not constantly looking down. We’re outside, but the trees make it feel claustrophobic. They reach hungrily toward the sun, fighting each other for drops of light, and this selfishness grows with the darkness as we move deeper into the woods.
It’s quiet. The silence is broken by the scuffling of feet or snapping of dry twigs as we walk. Every so often, volunteers call back and forth to each other, and rescue dogs exploring the same vicinity that we are will bark. But there are no bird calls, no sounds of scampering squirrels. We’re told that there is very little wildlife in Jukai. Nothing seems to flourish here but trees.
This deep into the woods, any roads and cleared paths are gone. At times, we’re forced to climb to a higher ledge or slide down steep slopes to proceed, and there’s always some root or rock hiding to twist an ankle.
And yet—the forest is beautiful. I like myself too much to seriously think about suicide, even during my old bouts of depression, but I can understand why people would choose to die here. There is something noble and enduring and magnificent about the forest.
That sense of wonder disappears though, the instant I see them. There are spirits here. And the ghosts mar the peacefulness for me. They hang from branches and loiter at the base of tree trunks. Their eyes are open and their skin is gray, and they watch me as I pass. I don’t know what kind of people they were in life, but they seem faded and insignificant in death.
Okiku watches them but takes no action. These are not the people she hunts. They don’t attack us because they’re not that kind of ghosts. Most of them, I intuit, aren’t violent. The only lives they had ever been capable of taking were their own.
I’m not afraid, despite their bloated faces, contorted from the ropes they use to hang themselves or the overdose of sleeping pills they’ve taken. If anything, I feel lingering sadness. I can sympathize with their helpless anguish. These people took their own lives, hoping to find some meaning in death when they couldn’t find it in life. But there’s nothing here but regret and longing.
And there’s that tickle again, so light it is nearly imperceptible. Something in this forest attracts these deaths. It lures its unhappy victims with its strange siren’s call and then, having taken what it needs, leaves their spirits to rot. A Venus flytrap for human souls.
Something is wrong here, and suddenly, the forest no longer looks as enticing or majestic as when we arrived.
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