Friday, December 17, 2010

WWOC: Hiromi Goto

Name: Hiromi Goto.

I was born December 31, 1966 in Japan.

My website: and my blog is at:

Genre: I'm rather genre fluid although my writing would fall under speculative. I write for both adult and youth audiences. My writing for youth tend to fall under fantasy, and my adult fiction falls into the mixed waters of slipstream. I also write some poetry and nonfiction.... I like to go to wherever my interests lead me rather than be locked in one specific genre.

WiP: I'm currently at work on Darkness, a companion novel to Half World, which was my latest work of fiction published with Viking USA in 2010.

Writing Credits: I've published three books for adults; Chorus of Mushrooms, The Kappa Child, and Hopeful Monsters. My novels for children/youth are The Water of Possibility, and Half World. My short stories have also be anthologized; some of them can be found in The Faery Reel and The Beastly Bride; Tales of the Animal People, as well as in journals like Ms Magazine and Nature.

How frequently do you update your site? I update my website whenever there's a note-worthy event. I try to blog regularly-- once a week, on various topics that can touch upon the writing life(s), gender, genre, writing strategies, the odd rant about a film, suggested book titles, nature outings, etc! Folks can comment on the blog posts and I try my best to respond.

Post of Note: I blogged about Bad Voice on December 6, 2010. Bad Voice is a debilitating force in almost everyone's life, and it certainly affects me as a writer. I'd love it if folks read that post and dropped me a note on their own experiences with Bad Voice.

Your YA fantasy debut, Half World has no romance in it. Were you anxious at all about how it would be received since it would seem that YA needs a little romance?

Half World, a YA crossover novel, is a fantasy narrative about a teenaged girl who is searching for her mother. Romance doesn't figure in this story, and I question why we think that if there is no romance in a fantasy narrative, that something is missing. Why must it be there in the first place? Now, I understand that there are conventions of a genre, and genre expectations-- but I approach my own writing projects as both a writer and a reader. When I'm reading, I'm hoping for a story to take me to an unexpected place. I don't want to go to the same places over and over again. So, I guess I'm trying to appeal to the readers who like to go off the beaten track. I wasn't anxious that excluding romance in Half World would have a profoundly negative impact upon reception. I consider writing to be a political act as well as a creative one, and it's important to me that content, in even subtle and small ways, disrupt and/or question the normative. Depictions of (mostly heterosexual) romantic love completely colonize popular culture narratives. Isn't there enough already? I don't want any chicken mcnuggets!

How did you come up with the idea of the Half World, the realm of Flesh and the Realm of Spirit? Three very different and creative worlds?

The concept of the Three Realms was developed out of various world mythologies and religious beliefs of our life on earth, and the afterlife. I was also influenced by Bosch's famous triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights, as well as Frida Kahlo's numerous self-portraits. I was also trying to puzzle out the cyclical nature of suffering in our lives. The broader questions of existance-- why do humans continue to cause suffering? Why can't we stop killing? Something is wrong, here.... What is it? A lot of my stories come out of posing questions.

Top Five Reads for 2011:

Pulse, by Lydia Kwa, Breathing the Page: Reading the Act of Writing by Betsy Warland, Baba Yaga Laid an Egg by Dubravka Ugresic, Tropic of Orange by Karen Tei Yamashita, Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead.

100 words or less how would you describe your work?

I'd describe my writing as edgy, vivid, feminist, racialized, queer-positive. Half World is fantasy bordering sometimes upon the horrific, but my writing can also be cheeky and humorous. Particularly my novels for adults. If writers were to be compared to animals, to herbivores and carnivores, than I'm an omnivore. I'm a crow of a writer. Or a raccoon....

100 words or less please share your thoughts on being a woman writer of color.

I'm a woman of colour writing out of North America. I'm an immigrant living on colonized land. This awareness effects, absolutely, how I write, because I'm not writing out of a historical vacuum. In literary historical terms, the writings of women of colour and indigenous women has not been widely published in North America for so very long. I'm talking about air time. It's been dominated by white male writers, and when I look at the winners of major literary prizes, it still veers toward them. This tells me something about long-term systemic racism and sexism. I believe that it's still vital and necessary, for the good of all, that diverse and politicized women of colour and indigenous women writers continue to roar, take up space, and challenge the normative. That readers need, and are hungry for, diverse stories. Sometimes our bodies and minds are starving for other stories, but we do not know it, because we are full-up on Wonderbread.

Thank you so much for the interview Hiromi! I for one, am tired of Wonderbread and mcNuggets as well. I really admire the fact that Half World focuses on a mother-daughter relationship instead of a romance. I also love that it's helping to fill in the huge gap of fantasy about people of color.


tanita davis said...

YAY! I LOVED Half World; it reminded me of unexplored worlds, and all the best adventure books I've ever read. Can't wait to read her next book.

zettaelliott said...

Thanks for this awesome interview--I'm heading to the library now and have new ideas for Xmas gifts...

Doret said...

Now I can't wait to read Half World.

Thanks for this great interview Ari

And thanks to Hiromi Goto for agreeing to take up a little space at Color Online. Come back anytime.

MissAttitude said...

@Tanita-If this interview and the summary had not already assured me that I would like this book, your praise and enthusiasm for the book completley seals the deal :)

@Zetta-Ooo I'm so happy to hear that! I'm starting Half World soon

@Doret-It sounds like something you might really like.

Don't thank me, all thanks go to Hiromi, a wonderful interviewee (is that a word? haha).

Thank you so much Hiromi and I second Doret's statement, feel free to come back anytime =D

Tarie said...

This is an awesome interview. HALF WORLD is available in the Philippines. I should buy it soon. The three different worlds sound very interesting.

Hiromi said...

Thank you, everyone, for the warm welcome. I'm so excited to have found this site and e-met you! So lucky! I'll definitely be back, and I'll visit often! ~__~

campbele said...

What an interesting, refreshing interview!