Interview with Author Jin Okubo

Jin Okubo

This weeks’ author interview brings another new author, Jin Okubo, you can find him on his website. You can buy his adults books from, Barnes and Noble, and his children’s book from, and Barnes and Noble.

jin okubo

What are you currently writing/working on?

Currently I am working one the companion novel to my romance novel: Love. Just as every coin has two sides so does love. Robert my protagonist from Love has a queer view of his relationship, it is this view that drives the story, so well, as you are in his mind seeing, feeling, experiencing what love is.

The companion to this novel is told in a more conventional manner but is just as enticing as you get Robert’s love’s point of view. You get a name to the face that Robert is so in love with. Kaoru, is bringing to life the other side of the Love.

When and how do your characters come to you? Is it in a moment of inspiration, an epiphany? Or do they grow in some murky recess of your mind?

My characters a bred through the pain and anguish that is life. That being what most readers would love to imagine, some dark deep recess of my mind where they live. In reality these characters grow from the story that needs to be told.

This story which I want to tell is what brings the characters to life. My life is a big still a big part of the stories that I want to tell and that in the end does drive my character development. Take for example Kaoru, she is an amalgamation of all the women in my life.

There’s an acceptance that authors often write in traits or characteristics of themselves into their work, is there any part of you in any of your characters?

Robert is me, yes the name is different, but his anxiety, his nervousness, just the way he sees life is all from me. There is just no avoiding it, but on a twist to things, I take physical aspects from the people that I see in my daily life to build the bodies of my characters.

How do you develop your characters? Do you let them brew in your subconscious, use character interview sheets, or something completely different?

I let my characters bring each other into the story. This makes each character more attached to each other.

I have tried character interview sheets, memo cards, post-its, and so on, yet nothing worked until I let each character bring each other to life leaving me to just build them a world where they can hang out.

Are you a planner, or free writer?

I am a free writer.

When you are developing a book, what tools or techniques do you use, e.g. timelines, mood boards, character interviews, scraps of notes?

I develop my story from feelings, letting them guide my writing is what I do. If the writing does not fit the feeling then the tory feels wrong. It is this rawness that gives my story more truth in the end.

Has your technique changed over time?

When I first started to write I tried to write as my university professor’s had taught me. Stick to the rules, write static, stale, and like everyone else before me. That style never stuck, I could not see myself trying to write as others. Not in the new world of reading that is out there.

I wanted to write as the greats did, so I gave up the planning and just started writing. Upon doing that I found that the stories just started to flow.

Where do you draw inspiration from? Do you actively look for it?

I find that inspiration comes to me. I do not have to search for it. Though I am ready for the day that I will need to look for it.

What kind of an environment do you write in? Day/night/silence/music/desk/sofa etc

Meatloaf, no not the food, the musician. I find that his voice and emotion just drives my thoughts as much as the coffee in my hand.

Half way into writing my first novel, it’s taking over my brain! What advice can you give me on completing it? Or maybe an easier question. What do you wish you had known about writing a book before you started?

It took me some time to figure it out but, gibberish. Gibberish has saved my brain more than any writing seminar ever could. When I find that my novel is becoming hard to write it is the gibberish that keeps the drive and clears up any issues that I may have with the story.

What I mean by gibberish is simple, when you find that you have trouble writing, open a clear screen and just start typing, don’t think, don’t plan, just type. Soon you will find that whatever was causing you stress is gone.

The publishing industry is in decline across the board. Do you think things like the Kindle are bridging the gap, is there still the same love for the written word, or is it being diluted by the modern obsession with tech and gadgets? 

I think the love is there and while kindle reader and such are bridging the gap there is the risk from a huge inflow of marketing books and get rich books that may turn people off.

It is our job as writers to breathe life on the embers that are there waiting for new fresh stories.

50 Shades of Grey author EL James was reported to make around £100k a day at the book’s height, and the upcoming film will make her millions. Do you find it a shame that the most lucrative and famous book franchise of the moment is one so widely derided for its lack of literary value? Or is it just good to have a book going mainstream?  

Yes, I do think that a book as this has climbed so high to warrant it a movie while other great works go unnoticed. Though, I refuse to read the book I also do not care for the critique that it has literary value. Every book has some literary value, and it seems that most do not like it because of the subject matter not the writing. For that I am more ashamed of these so called book reviewers.

If a fascist regime was burning the worlds libraries, what books would you save?

While it would be prudent to save all books, the classics would be in my saved pile, not necessarily first editions but a copy would suffice. Definitely Wylde, Keats, Joyce.

Which publishing route have you taken? Did you always know you were going to go down this route, and if so why?

I have gone self-publishing and though my fantasy series is through publisher I found that for someone in my position I chose wrong and now that series is in limbo. For that reason I continue with self-publishing, and No I did not always know that I would go down this path. But I still have the hope that a good publishing house or an agent would take notice of me. 

Love CoverWhat do you wish you knew about the publishing process before you started?

Marketing, getting a book sold is hard work. And as I find more and more marketers that want to help authors as myself make themselves inaccessible through prices or in wanting someone to buy their book. Which buying their book drives their sales and they can claim high sales to success while the ones in need of help are left to flounder.

What is the best advice you could give to aspiring novelists like me? Or what was the best advice you were ever given?

Keep writing. Write daily, doesn’t have to be the novel, just the act of writing makes you better.

Is fanfic to be welcomed as it broadens interaction and the readers experience or a scourge that devalues the ability of an author?

Having written only a simple fanfic story for George Lucas it was just like me to write it for Lucas and not star wars. That being said, I believe writers should write what they want, this whole idea that we must write A or that writing B devalues you has to be put aside.

I am finding more and more, that writers often have several creative outlets. Do you? Or is writing your one source?

I play the guitar, invent, gardening, weightlifting, painting, and teach. While inventing takes up the most of my time outside of writing, teaching is well my main job for bringing home the bacon, lol.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

I would be a teacher/inventor. I always liked teaching and well inventing is something that is close to me as I want to make the world better.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I knew from the time that I had graduated high school that I wanted to be a writer. Well I wanted to write, but was surprised that I became an author.

What authors do you admire, and why?

Wylde: I admire him for his wit and fun style of writing.

Dickinson: There is just something that draws me to Emily Dickinson, just like Yeats there is just so much emotion.

Joyce: the rawness in his stories. I want to bring that true to life feeling to my novels, which is what brings so much admiration to him.

Author Bio

As new life is born so have I. Welcome Jin Okubo to the world. My citizenship went through and my old name is gone. As you can see in my website, I am looking for the new ways to tell a story. There are so many things that could be said in so many different ways. I think you can all see this through the writing.


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