Thursday, June 7, 2012

JAPANESE MYTHOLOGY - THE INSPIRATION FOR GHOST WIND ~ guest post by Mitchel Rose & Calvin Daniels

The scouts here at the Salon are giving a big welcome to speculative fiction authors Mitchel Rose and Calvin Daniels. They're sharing about the Japanese mythology that inspired their fascinating collaborative effort--Ghost Wind.  


Ghost Wind 1: The Torn Veil is the first in a series of fantasy adventures set in the 1920s.  They chronicle the adventures of ninja warrior Ghost Wind in the fictional city of Granton City.  The story not only evokes the gritty crime fiction of the pulps, but also weaves in strong fantasy elements, supernatural creatures and fantastical dimensions.  For inspiration, we delved into Japanese mythology exploring the wealth of diverse and fascinating myths and legends of that country.

Playing a key role in the story, are the Oni, a race of mythical creatures from Japanese folklore.  The Oni are commonly associated with demons, devils, ogres and trolls, and play a dominant role in Japanese Art, Literature and the theatre.

They are generally described as monstrous, demonic creatures with fangs, claws and horns on their heads.  For Ghost Wind, we re-imagined the Oni as coming in a variety of different shapes and sizes, from noble humanoid warriors to monstrous behemoths of metal and flesh. 

Originally the Oni were believed to be invisible spirits who secretly plagued the human race through disasters, droughts, plagues and other horrible things.  We developed this premise, with the Oni in Ghost Wind secretly manipulating the affairs of the human race and using human agents to carry out their inscrutable agendas.               

Another idea associated with the Oni is the Demon Gate.  This was the north-eastern direction which all evil spirits went along, causing misery and turmoil.  In Ghost Wind we had the concept of the Veil between out world and the supernatural, through which the Oni were able to pass through.

Another important mythological figure we incorporated into Ghost Wind was the Kitsune.  This is the Japanese word for fox, and foxes feature very heavily in Japanese folklore.  In ancient times, foxes and the people of Japan lived closely together and many myths and legends arose.  Most prevalent is the belief that kitsune are the servants of the Japanese deity Inari.  In Ghost Wind one of the main characters is a kitsune, an elegant white furred fox.  Traditionally, white kitsune were considered benevolent, serving as guardians and creatures working for the side of good.  We took this idea, making our kitsune an ally and guide to the book’s eponymous hero. 

Kitsune are traditionally believed to be wise and long-lived, qualities we brought to our fox spirit, but also mischievous and something of a trickster which again we incorporated into our character’s personality.

Another important feature of the kitsune, were their ability to take human form.  There are many tales in Japanese folklore of kitsune changing shape and becoming lovers to ordinary mortals.  We explored a similar idea, but whereas it is more usual for a kitsune to appear as a beautiful young woman, the kitsune of Ghost Wind takes on the guise of a handsome young man.  Complications ensue when the kitsune becomes romantically entangled with the girl Ghost Wind is in love with.

There were many more influences and inspirations which we weaved in with our own inventions, and we sincerely hope people enjoy reading the book as much as we enjoyed writing it. 


In a remote monastery in the mountains of Japan young Yoshi Kobayashi is trained in the ways of the ninja, forged into a deadly weapon, his instincts and fighting prowess honed to perfection. He is the ultimate warrior. He is the Ghost Wind. Indentured into the service of Japanese crime lord Hideki Yakamura, Yoshi is sent halfway across the world to the glamour and madness of 1920s America and the gritty streets of Granton City. Plunged into a seedy underworld of gangsters and speakeasies, Yoshi soon realises nothing and nobody are really what they seem. Yakamura is no mere mobster, but in reality an ancient sorcerer and the target of powerful supernatural forces hungry for his power. Yoshi becomes embroiled in a dark and terrible war beyond the Veil between worlds which only he alone can put an end to. In the climatic battle to come Yoshi is forced to choose between his duty as Ghost Wind and the woman he loves. Supported by strange allies and beset by monstrous enemies is he strong enough to stop the legions of darkness from conquering the earth when the Veil is finally torn?


Ghost Wind moved with deadly grace deflecting their clumsy attacks with sharp jabs and kicks. The screaming tide of horror and panic strained against the iron binds of his discipline, threatening to engulf him in blind terror. He ducked the swipe of one cadaver but lost his footing in the soft ash. With shocking speed the thing was on him pinning him down hard. A turgid wave of rotting meat almost made him gag. Gobbets of purpled flesh hung off the creature’s swollen face. A mouth of jagged fangs swooped down on the warrior's exposed throat.

His training deserted him surrendering over to a primal animal survival instinct. He cried out and pushed with all of his might. The cadaver’s hold loosened and he launched himself forward, his momentum enough to knock his opponent back. Desperate fingers quested for the putrid chunk of gristle that was the monster’s throat. Ghost Wind's teeth ground together as he yanked hard, literally pulling the thing’s head from its body.

He jumped to his feet again his body poised in a fighting stance. The abominations circled him. Though they were slow and shambling they were relentless. Ghost Wind could not stop them all.

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