Osaka & Inspiration

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Hong Kong circa 2006.

I’ve been never one for smalltalk; never been one to waste time on things that don’t interest or inspire me. If I don’t like something then I move on and find something else to occupy my time with, and the same goes for my writing. If I am not inspired then I am not writing, and I find it very hard these days to find things that truly inspire. (Hence the ten year hiatus from any form of solid, honest, work.)

In regards to reading I tend to veer towards a very small subsect of literature that involves steampunk, science fiction and the odd, very rare bits of fantasy and horror. There are but a handful of books that I will read to the end, but I could, (and often have) re-read those books to death.

At first there was Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which I read when I was ten and had nothing to do all summer in the South of France with my family. It was left discarded on a bookshelf in an old barn on the lot of land we were staying on, and I absolutely fell in love. Then there was Tolkien, another classic that inspired me during my teenage years, followed by Mieville and Poe in my early twenties.

My favourite book of all time is quite possibly A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones. It’s an imperfect book in many ways, but its also completely brilliant in others. It reminds me of my young self hiding under the blankets with a torchlight until the wee hours of the morning. (Something I remember doing with Lord of the Rings back in my uni days, when I spent my entire spring break reading it from cover to cover, – when I heard the birds chirping I knew it was time to put it down!)

Its been a long journey getting to where I am now, passed the old lamppost of Narnia and through the mists near Camelot, (The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley – love!) but I have finally settled upon my own niche in literature that serves the writer in me well.

And it came into clear focus sometime last year when I went on a short, unexpected break away to Osaka in Japan.

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Dotonbori, Osaka.

Now, I’ve been to Japan before, namely Tokyo and the infamous Park Hyatt in Shinjuku where I could play out my Scarlett Johansson fantasies as I overlooked the city skyline with Mount Fuji in the distance.

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You can’t see Fuji in this picture, but I promise, it was there!

However, I didn’t get a yearning to go back to Tokyo, but when I went to Osaka I instantly fell in love. Or, more to the point, Dotonbori.

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It reminded me of a steampunk alternate universe, where the streets were too narrow, the lights too bright, the signs colourful and eclectic, and the smells and sounds an assault to the senses. I loved the old mixed amongst the modern. The simple street stalls beneath the enormous ferris wheel, which overlooked the river that you could take a boat down during the day and night.

It was all so impossibly perfect to me, and I knew that I had found my source of inspiration.

I have only ever really had that feeling once before in my life, and that was when I first travelled to Hong Kong back when I was around twenty one. I had just escaped from a terrible job working in Shenzhen across the border in mainland China, and as soon as I stepped off the boat that had delivered me to Hong Kong’s glassy, glittering shores, I gasped and instantly fell in love. I knew that I wanted to live there, (and I did) and although I didn’t know it at the time, I was beginning to re-discover my passion for writing through the places that I love.

Architecture is of huge importance when I write. From the glass skyscrapers in Hong Kong to the small markets and steampunk vibe of Osaka, and even Seoul. I love how it perfectly sets the mood and the tone for the universes I create. And even now, as I begin a new work in progress, I can’t wait to draw inspiration from a small temple I visited in the foothills of Mount Seorak in Sokcho, Korea, to the tall, white buildings of my home city, Bath.

Finding inspiration is something that I have often struggled with in the past, but after all these years of searching for places and people to inspire me I have found that I was actually surrounded by my muses all along.

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Mount Seorak, Sokcho, Korea.

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Bath, England.

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