On Writing “Rough Night in Little Toke”

61mfW7jxH8L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_You kids, with your fancy animes and your Crackles and your CrunchyRolls, you don’t know how hard the rest of us used to have it!  Back in my day, we had to get anime from a CATALOG.  Specifically, the Viz catalog, which arrived every so often (quarterly, perhaps?) at my house on Park Place.  It was a happy day when it arrived, filled with treats from far-off Japan, Ranma 1/2 and  Akira and manga, so much manga, plus a lot of filthy stuff that came with a big fat NOT FOR KIDS bar across it.

I devoured that catalog.  This was back when anime came in clamshell VHS cases, 2, maybe 3 episodes at a time.  And that shit was NOT cheap — I think I paid about $30 for All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku-Nuku, my first anime (purchased from Tower Records).  Years later, I would buy the entire series on DVD for $6.  Times have changed.

I lost interest in anime after college, but you can imagine what a THRILL it was to be asked by Nick Mamatas, who is one of my favorite people in the whole world, to contribute to HANZAI JAPAN, an anthology of Japanese-themed crime stories put out by Viz’s Haikasoru imprint.  A long-forgotten fragment of my life had come full-circle.

I AGONIZED over what to write.  Here was this great opportunity, one I could never have DREAMED of existing, let alone being asked to be a part of, and I had NO CLUE what to write.  I got thinking of idiots who get generic Kanji tattoos (“Goddess” “Princess” “Warrior” blah blah blah) and came up with the idea of an asshole who gets a possessed tattoo.  Good start.  Now what?

It was my friend Jason, who is really good at this sort of thing, to come up with the idea that the tattoo takes on the life of whoever touches it.  I was off and running, and a few weeks later, I had “Rough Night in Little Toke.” It’s a much different story than anything I had written previously.  It’s exceedingly vulgar.  The prose is sharp and dirty and ugly, forsaking much of the cool polish or the foreboding loneliness that is the general hallmark of my hard crime writing.  Little Toke itself is a hellish homage to when I used to buy my anime, at the Tower Records and Anime Crash — both long gone — near where my sister Shaun went to NYU.

After a few edits (Nick wanted the word count to come down a bit, so I stripped down some of my longer tangents) I was IN, and got my copy right around the same time I got my ARCs for The Big Rewind.  It was a good week.

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