Looking over fields

I’m not sure if I’ve used this analogy before, but when I was given the offer to move to Tokyo and take over the Asian division of my company, I likened it to standing on a hill, overlooking fields.

You know that you have to build a city there, but no-one is going to tell you what to do. It’s all up to you; succeed or fail, it’s all your call.

It’s exhilarating and scary at the same time. You have total dominion over what is about to happen there.

But then, when you start, you find out that you are restricted in some ways. A river might run through your perfect housing district. And you can’t put any factories upstream of your commercial districts as the run-off will deter visitors. That kind of thing.


Anyway, I used to love games like Sim City, Sim Any, Civilization… but I think one of my all-time favorite games would have been the Dungeon Keeper series. Once I had gotten the hang of it, I would try to make the central part of my dungeon as efficient as possible, whilst taking an artistic, maze-like flair with the approaches so as to confuse enemies. For those of you that haven’t managed to have the life-altering experience of Dungeon Keeper, there are a few “Lets Plays” on Youtube. Or you can probably pirate it somewhere. I’ve bought both full games thrice (maybe more) so that should absolve your conscience. Or maybe it’s free these days. I don’t know.


Ok, I’m getting way off track.
Even though The Zemlya Conspiracy has had only a very mild response, I feel compelled to write a sequel. Sure, I might end up abandoning it to write a comic version of “Run” (should I ever find an artist that wants to work with me on that kind of subject. Can you imagine Weee’s cute art doing shape-shifting zombies? Maybe I’ll ask her…),  but for now it’s on my mind.

And again, I’m looking over an empty field. There are a few geographical features that I can’t change (the “truths” of TZC), but there are a lot of ways I can take it. For instance, I was thinking about just not returning to Kate and Dani. I love them, and I think Dani could be more interesting if I worked on her… but then again, I don’t have to. (Current thinking, however, has them in there).


I wrote a few weeks ago about getting Scrievener to help with the writing. I’ve been using it for a bit, and it’s great for jotting down ideas, building out characters… pretty much everything about writing except for, well, actually writing. I think I’ve done about 10,000 words of work and only 500 of those are actual ‘script’. Anyway, pre-planning now should hopefully mean that there is a lot more consistency when it comes to the main novel. I’m feeling good about it. I played with the different threads that I want to tie together – the only thing I need to work out now is some killer action scenes, as it seems that this is what people liked the most (after the characters).

Oh shit, I just remembered that I was going to stop writing about writing and start talking about culture.


Well, the other thing that I am going to use Scrivener for is a non-fiction book that I’m going to write called “The Invisible Rule-book,” which will go into what I’ve learned about doing business in Japan. I would think that I was pretty qualified to set up a business here, and I did a lot of research on the topic. Yes, I’ll admit that I did also kinda scoff at some of the books and say “Man, this surely only applies to old school Japan…”.

Turns out I was wrong. There is definitely an order to things here, and if you don’t follow the rules, you’ll get kicked in the guts. So I want to possibly help someone avoid that in the future.


So, I’ll head back to writing now, but I wanted to leave a couple of questions here: it would be great if I could get your answers in the comments (and, of course, sharing this wherever you can always helps!):

  • Are there any particular cultural things that you wanted to know about Australia, Japan, Germany, or South East Asia?
  • Am I posting enough or not enough about TZC in various social channels? I’ll admit that 90% of the social media I look at (like /r/katawashoujo) is KS-related, and I feel guilty hijacking those forums?
  • Is there anything that you’d like to see in TZC2? Was it really the action scenes that were enjoyable or would you prefer a more “thriller” kind of thing (less fights but more “oh shit he’s gunna get found out” moments)?
  • Are there any artists that wanna do Run as a comic?


Last point: I was looking for an image of “fields” and was thinking about Shirakawa-go, but instead I found the “featured image” that you see here. It was a park bench in a private Japanese Garden in Kyoto. However I think you may have seen it before.


4 thoughts on “Looking over fields

  1. How does Australia not know what lemonade is? Soda with a lemon flavor is not sweetened lemon juice. I do think cultural differences is an good topic to post about but its hard to think of what from the outside. I haven’t been those places so I find it hard to think of what unexpected things would be different.

    I can only think of seeing talk about TZC here and a bit on twitter so more social media advertising reach seems it would be good.

  2. As for cultural things, it is really fun to your read posts about how different Japan is from the “Western world”. For example, I still remember your post from over one year ago how there are no stars in Tokio.
    As for social media you really shouldnt feel guilty, self-promotion is a integral part of being a writer, at least nowadays.
    As for TZC, I am personally more a “thriller” guy myself, but of course it all depends on your target audience. Although certainly in general it is the drama that makes books great, not the action.

    1. Thanks for that. I’m just too aware of the people that promote themselves into obnoxiousness n Social Media. I should really get back onto it though…

      On the “cultural” posts, this is where I’m aiming at the moment and hopefully you’ll see more of those as the year rolls on. I’m trying to keep ahead of myself and have a few queued up, but I think I only have about a fortnight’s worth saved up!

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