Blade's Edge - Virginia McClain
I was not prepared for the depth that this book presented me with. I tend to make it a habit to not reread a book's brief summary/synopsis/teaser before I dive into it, and with a reading list of 200 books, I don't always have a recollection of what each individual book was about.
So as I began reading Blade's Edge by McClain, I was caught off guard by the genre and the overall plot. Both Taka and Mishi are strong female leads who I quickly grew attached to. Throughout the book they overcome obstacle after obstacle, learning to take care of themselves and to think outside of the world they were brought into.
This book is well written, the plot flows smoothly, and the characters are exceptionally well developed. I look forward to (hopefully???) the follow up of this book.
Some Bio Information
Virginia thinks dangling from the tops of hundred foot cliffs is a good time. She also enjoys hauling a fifty pound backpack all over the Grand Canyon and sleeping under the stars. Sometimes she likes running for miles through the desert, mountains, or wooded flatlands, and she always loves getting lost in new places where she may or may not speak the language.
From surviving earthquakes in Japan, to putting out a small forest fire in Montana, Virginia has been collecting stories from a very young age. She works hard to make her fiction as adventurous as her life and her life as adventurous as her fiction. Both take a lot of imagination.
She recently moved to Winnipeg with her husband and their dog.
1. What inspired you to write this book?
As I was living in Japan and spending a lot of time hiking to secluded mountain shrines and temples, I started to wonder what it would be like if all of the shinto spirits were actually real and able to influence the world. Then I started to wonder what magic would be like if it were based on certain zen meditation practices. Ultimately, the book became something very different than a simple answer to those questions, but it was how the initial spark for the story started.
2. How much research did you complete for this plot?
In some ways years and years worth and in other ways none. The world I created is entirely fictional and only inspired by feudal Japan so I didn't do the kind of fact checking I would have done if the story had been historical fiction. However, the inspiration taken from feudal Japanese samurai culture came from years of interest in the topic and unofficial study. I've been interested in feudal Japan since I was about 12 years old, and between training in Japanese martial arts, reading history and historical fiction, and living in Japan, I spent about 20 years "researching" this book.
3. What well known author would you compare yourself to?
That's a difficult one... I'm not sure I can answer it objectively, and I hesitate to compare myself to anyone well known. What I will say is that I think that people who enjoy the writing of Tamora Pierce, RA Salvatore, and Anne Bishop might like my work.
4. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?
I write first drafts very quickly and without much planning. Then I do a ton of planning for my revisions and complete them much more slowly. I used to hate revision until I learned to treat it like a giant puzzle wherein you figure out how to take the pieces of what you actually wrote and turn them into what you meant to write.
5. Describe the perfect writing environment.
For me this varies. The times when I am most productive are either: a. when I am at my standing desk, listening to instrumental music via headphones and rocking out while writing, or b. when I am in the park with my laptop on a sunny day lounging on a blanket with my dog and no internet. Either one of those tends to get me churning out new words.
6. What would you like readers to take away from your work?
I like to think that every reader will take away something different from any piece of my writing, and I don't feel the need to dictate what that is. However, a common theme in all my writing is women kicking ass and taking names. Make of that what you will.
7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?
For my writing to pay the bills. Don't get me wrong, I'm not in this for the money, but I would love for my writing to sustain me financially the way it sustains me emotionally/mentally. I can't live without writing as it is, so it would be lovely if it could also pay to put food in my belly and a roof overhead.