In anticipation of the English release for the first volume of Akaoni: Contract with a Vampire, I got into contact with Charis Messier, the lead translator at Cross Infinite World. I passed along a few questions for Hiroro (the author of Akaoni) and for mokoppe (the artist behind Akaoni‘s illustrations), and then Charis Messier kindly translated their responses. I believe this is the first time I’ve been able to reach creators from Japan, so I’m very excited to share some insight with all of you!
Interview with Hiroro
Cho: What inspired you to write Akaoni, a story about vampires? Will the story mainly appeal to fans of romance?
Hiroro: The original idea for Akaoni came from the simple thought it would be interesting if there was a vampire who didn’t drink blood. Why did I choose to write a vampire story? Because I was reading a vampire novel at the time I came up with the idea for Akaoni. Around that same time, the Twilight movies were a big topic, so that may have been a factor too.
I hope other women like me will enjoy reading Akaoni.
Cho: How has Akaoni been received as a web novel in Japan?
Hiroro: I wonder about that myself. I honestly don’t know. I am an author so I leave it to the readers to decide if something is interesting or not, but I have been encouraged and supported by many people.
Cho: What are some of the things you like about the web novel format?
Hiroro: I believe the freedom to freely write and upload a story is the most appealing feature to both professional and amateur writers. The web novel medium is a wonderful place that allows professionals to write freely, compared to books written for publishers. For budding writers, it is a place where writing an interesting work can get you published.
Cho: Was it surprising to get an offer for an English translation?
Hiroro: It was a complete surprise on all accounts. Akaoni is the first novel I have written and I was worried it was poorly written. But I accepted the offer wanting people overseas to have a chance to read it too.
Cho: When you’re not writing, what are some things you like to do in your free time?
Hiroro: Generally, I am raising my children and taking care of my home in my free time. I have recently taken up writing video game scenarios for work, so I also spend my time focusing on that work.
Cho: Any final comments to your fans?
Hiroro: I don’t know if I have any fans yet, but…I will continue diligently writing, so please continue supporting me from wherever you may be in the world!
Interview with mokoppe
Cho: What has it been like, drawing artwork for Akaoni?
mokoppe: The process isn’t especially different from art jobs for Japanese media, but this project being aimed at an international audience got me thinking I should change the usual aesthetic and presentation. In the end, I decided to try to enchant the reader with my own style.
I’m answering these interview questions before the book is released, so I am looking forward to everyone’s reaction when they get their copy.
Cho: What is your process for a typical illustration?
mokoppe: I receive detailed information on the world and character settings, so aside from the aspects I must include, I am always consciously adding aspects that give off light.
When it comes to the illustrations I draw for fun, I typically draw whatever comes to mind, but I believe it would be wonderful if the person viewing my art will get a feel for the world and characters behind the illustration and use their imaginations to see more. I am thrilled whenever I receive comments from people who say they can imagine various stories from just one illustration.
Cho: What are your favorite things to draw? Or your favorite types of characters to draw?
mokoppe: I don’t have a favorite thing or topic to draw per se, but I often stick to the concepts of ephemeral, beautiful, and magical. As for characters, I like drawing both male and female characters with a little mystery to them.
Cho: In what ways do you think illustrations add to the experience of reading a novel?
mokoppe: I think novel illustrations are an auxiliary factor in making up the world of the work. During the art process I said I want people to use their imaginations when seeing my illustrations, but novels already have an established story. Although art is a supplementary factor, every reader’s imagination tends to diverge from the image provided by the text, so I believe the combination of the reader’s imagination with the illustrations provides insight into a world they might not have seen without it.
Cho: Any final comments to your fans?
mokoppe: It’s a pleasure to meet you all and hello to those of you who usually view my art. I’m mokoppe. With this being a translated novel, the demographic is people overseas! This is my first time drawing the illustrations for an international novel, so while I am excited to see how you like my art, I am also anxious. I would be thrilled if you enjoy the novel along with my illustrations!
Thank you very much Hiroro and mokoppe, for taking the time to answer these questions! And thank you Charis Messier for making all of this possible. I look forward to reading Akaoni, and hope other readers will be able to join in for the upcoming discussion post here on August 23rd.
As a special bonus, Cross Infinite World has agreed to award a free copy of Akaoni: Contract with a Vampire volume 1, so we’ll be hosting a giveaway. To enter, simply leave a comment below expressing your interest. If you are the winner (as determined by a random number generator), I will respond to your comment here to let you know. You can then email me your email address, and then you can can receive your ebook. (Note: It will be an Amazon version of the ebook.)
The contest deadline will be 23:59 on Monday, August 7th. Be sure to enter by then if you’re interested in this novel!
* * * *
UPDATE: And the contest is finished! The winner of the drawing is MadameBlue14, who will receive volume 1 of Akaoni: Contract with a Vampire. If the opportunity arises, I will be sure to have more contests for light novels in the future! Thanks to everyone who participated in this one.