All month long I'm participating in the A-to-Z Challenge over at Scouring Monk, talking about both the Space Corps saga and the Yoshimi Trilogy.
Today, as the title suggests, I'm going to drop some background knowledge on you. I've previously done that here with Seven Thunders, where I explained how the neglected War of 1812 helped inform the structure of the story. I like to do that in my fiction. When I was writing The Cloak of Shrouded Men, specifically the individual installments Colinaude, the Angry Avenger (2004), Repose of the Eidolon (2005) and Cotton's War (2006) during NaNoWriMo, I would conclude each month by explaining the latest influences. It was a fine way to finish writing a long work. The entire back section of the Cloaked book is filled with a version of what I wrote in that regard.
Well, the story of warrior orphan Yoshimi was not something that came naturally to me. I don't do action very well. I write about the effects of a situation more than the situation itself, or in other words from a very cerebral vantage point. In fact, the start of this secret origin perhaps shouldn't be so secret. It's very much the story of another effect, the Flaming Lips album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. It was my introduction to concept albums, my generation's very own. If you've never heard it, I feel bad for you. Anyway, that's the most superficial of secret origins to explore.
Another informs an entire element of the story. Remember how I said I'm not much of an action writer? Since Yoshimi by definition had to experience a lot of action, I had to come up with a more cerebral approach, and I stumbled into that approach because at the time I was developing the story I was working in a bookstore. It was Hiroshi Moriya's The 36 Secret Strategies of the Martial Arts, a kind of Art of War for those of us looking to be more clever about it. Each of the strategies are employed and quoted during the course of the story, and the specific number of them affected the story, too, including the number of foster homes Yoshimi endures early in her life and the key battles that must occur in order for the story to conclude (sort of like a video game!). Additionally, I honored Moriya himself as a character; the book as a present Yoshimi receives; and the translator of the edition I purchased, William Scott Wilson, who ended up inspiring a character more important than Moriya's (although in the story one succeeds the other once again).
The final element is the final acknowledgement that, again, I am not a writer of action. It was the movie Warrior, released in the fall of 2011, when I began writing the story. Warrior is a movie about MMA (mixed martial arts) fighting, but it's not really about the fighting. It stars Tom Hardy, who wins a lot of his fights without really having to try. That was the pattern by which I had Yoshimi fight. It was a clever way to avoid having to write a lot of intricate fight scenes. Warrior, by the way, quickly became one of my favorite movies. It's awesome in every way possible. It also ended up affecting how I concluded Seven Thunders. So, a very influential movie in my writing!
But again, if you're curious about the Yoshimi Trilogy, you should also be reading Scouring Monk this month.