The Infinity Courts buzz week – Q&A with Akemi Dawn Bowman
I am thrilled to be able to do an author Q&A with Akemi Dawn Bowman as part of the buzz week for The Infinity Courts. Akemi has been one of my favourite authors for a long time. Her contemporary novels are beautifully written and I highly recommend them. If you are unfamiliar with Akemi’s works then please check out my reviews for Harley in the Sky and Summer Bird Blue.
The Infinity Courts is a sci-fi/fantasy mash up. The story centres around Nami Miyamoto, who is murdered on her way to her class party. When she wakes up she discovers Infinity, where human consciousness goes when you die. Unfortunately, it isn’t the peaceful afterlife she was expecting as her personal A.I. assistant from Earth, Ophelia, is now posing as queen and her plans of eradicating all humans are inching closer…. You can check out the full synopsis and add The Infinity Courts on Goodreads here. The release date is 6th April 2021 and I cannot wait to be able to talk to other people about this book! I am lucky to have read an advanced copy and I promise you it is a great read.
Where did the idea for The Infinity Courts come from?
Lots of people wonder what, if anything, happens to our consciousness when we die. And I was really intrigued by the idea that if our consciousness could “transfer” from a physical body into an afterlife, what if an artificial consciousness figured out how to do the same? I love stories about humans versus AI. I am also obsessed with period dramas, and those quiet moments where people are staring from across a room, or their fingers almost touch, and there’s just so much happening behind their eyes. So I basically created a mash-up of my favorite things: a sci-fi concept in a fantasy afterlife with lots of Jane Austen vibes. Needless to say, I am very excited to share this book with readers!
What are the three things that you think makes Nami a cool protagonist?
Nami is extremely empathetic. She is cautious about becoming too powerful. And she isn’t afraid to question the rules. I think these three things show that at her core, she has a hunger for information, but she also won’t let logic get in the way of helping the people who need it most. To me, she’s kind of like a classic superhero that wants to do the right thing—but the interesting part about Nami is that she’s still trying to figure out what that is.
Ophelia, an A.I. personal assistant, is an important character in The Infinity Courts. What futuristic technology would you love to get your hands on?
A tech that could take my ideas out of my head and type them up in a word doc! Imagine the time that could save—I could write from anywhere. But on a less productive note, I would really like a teleportation device. Driving is one of my least favorite things ever. But if I could just teleport somewhere to pick up boba tea and red bean buns for lunch, and then come right back home? THE DREAM.
Do you have a favourite quote from The Infinity Courts that you could share?
“May the stars watch over you. Because the saints abandoned us long ago.”
Do you write yourself into any of your characters (from The Infinity Courts or your previous books)? If so, which of your characters do you think reflects you the most and in what way?
I think quite a few of the characters have pieces of me in them. Kiko maybe most of all, for very personal reasons. But I feel like I wasn’t Kiko until my early twenties—when I was Kiko’s age, I was by far more like Shoji, her younger brother. But these are just snapshots in a long and varying life. So even if I inadvertently write myself into a character, I’m really just writing down a moment, and not everything I am or will be. My characters are like that too—snapshots of life.
If you had to choose a fictional mascot to keep you company whilst you write, who would you pick and why? (Think the fluffies from Avatar: The Last Airbender or a fictional person if you prefer)
I mean, who wouldn’t want a Baby Yoda hanging out with them all day? (I’m sorry, I just can’t call him Grogu. It still feels wrong.) I think just being near him would put me in a good mood. There is also a new character in the next book in THE INFINITY COURTS series that I 100% would’ve picked for this, but they haven’t been introduced to the world yet. (Their name is Nix. They may or may not be a Dayling.)
The covers of your books are always absolutely stunning! How much involvement do you have with the cover art?
Thank you! I’m so glad you like them. Casey Weldon is the incredible artist behind the cover for THE INFINITY COURTS, which was designed by Laura Eckes. I couldn’t stop smiling when I saw how it turned out, because it just captures Nami so perfectly. I have been very lucky to have such gorgeous covers turn up in my inbox. I’m always invited to share my thoughts, but to be honest, I know how thoughtful and talented the team is, so I’m usually just on board to see what they come up with!
Do you read the reviews for your books?
I do everything I can to avoid the majority of reviews. I made a lot of missteps during my debut year with not really protecting myself online as well as I should have. By the time I realized how important it was to put up boundaries, it was too late, and I had some major setbacks with my mental health. I think for some authors, they can read reviews and have thick skin, and it’s all good. And I thought I could be that author too. But I didn’t really calculate the fact that what I write about is sometimes really, really personal, especially with my first novel being about abuse.
Everyone is of course allowed to have likes and dislikes, and it is absolutely not wrong of anyone to dislike—or even loathe—a book. But some reviews can also be really triggering to me on a human level. I found the coping mechanisms I’d developed with my therapist suddenly didn’t work for author me in the age of social media. So I don’t read reviews anymore, and even though I hate giving advice, I would really urge authors to think carefully about how a stranger’s words might affect their mental health. Nobody is wrong for hating a book, and an author isn’t wrong for not wanting to know about it. I think it’s helpful to think of it as existing in a different space—there’s the words you write, and the words that are read. They’re not necessarily the same, and they don’t need to be.
Subjectivity is a thing. And reviews are for readers, not authors!
What do you like to do when you are not busy writing amazing books?
I am very much devoted to my island on Animal Crossing. I’ve been a fan of the series for many years, and this one is just everything I needed during The (First) Year of Covid. I also am redoing my entire island and have been quietly streaming my progress, but I’ve been too embarrassed to talk about it on social media. It’s been nice to just be my weird, nerdy self in peace haha. I spend so much of my life being terrified of strangers—the anonymity is kind of therapeutic!
I love your cult references and immediately honed in on the Zelda reference in the opening of The Infinity Courts. As a gamer I must ask you: Which is the best Zelda game of all time? (No pressure but there is a correct answer).
Ocarina of Time!! Is that the right answer? Hahaha, I grew up with A Link to the Past too (also amazing), but Ocarina of Time was truly the game that blew my mind. The storytelling was just beyond anything I had ever seen in a video game, and to be honest it’s still a HUGE part of what made me want to become a writer.
Who are your favourite authors and have any of them influenced your own writing?
Leigh Bardugo, Holly Black, Samantha Shannon… I love authors that make me feel like I exist in a different world when I read their books. But it’s also SO important for me to care about their characters too—even when they aren’t always what society considers “likable.” (I have Big Feelings on this, for the record haha.) And for me, I just know whatever book I pick up by these authors, I’m going to get the world-building and the impactful characters. Reading their work reminds me of the kind of magic I hope to have in my own writing.
Do you have any book recommendations for us whilst we wait for The Infinity Courts?
GEARBREAKERS by Zoe Hana Mikuta comes out in June this year, and is another sci-fi with an Asian main character. I’m reading an early copy now and it is SO GOOD. I realize most of you won’t be able to read it before THE INFINITY COURTS releases, but I highly recommend adding it to your TBRs. THE ONES WE’RE MEANT TO FIND by Joan He releases in May, and also sounds totally incredible. As for books that you can read right now, WANT by Cindy Pon, REBEL SEOUL by Axie Oh, and REBELWING by Andrea Tang are all books I’ve read and loved!
Would you prefer to read a book to make you laugh or make you cry?
Cry. Definitely. I find it really cathartic, and also a sign that I felt something on a deep-level, because it takes A LOT for a book to make me emotional.
What would be your advice for someone who has an idea for a story but doesn’t know how to start the writing process?
Just start writing. You can find your own process as you go, but the most important part of writing is to get the words down. You can fix, delete, and add to it later. So don’t be afraid of a blank page, and don’t worry you don’t know what you’re doing. Because honestly? A lot of authors I know feel like that every single time they start a new book. The only difference is they sat down and got the words down anyway. (Also… you got this!!)
If you had to write under a pseudonym, what name would you pick?
This is so random, but I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot over the past year. Sometimes I wonder if I should’ve used a pseudonym from the start—I think it might’ve been a good idea to have that separation between my work and myself. I’m hypersensitive to everything—I can’t help it, I promise I’ve tried—and it is way too easy for my brain to conflate “one person disliked my book” to “everyone in the world hates me.” I think maybe a different name would’ve helped, but maybe that’s wishful thinking. But I do sometimes dream about writing books under a different name and just never telling anyone, but I don’t know if I have the willpower. For that reason though, I can’t actually share the name—but it is a combination of initials and a long-forgotten family surname!
When can we expect part two of The Infinity Courts?
I am working on edits now, and I believe it’s slated for spring 2022! So about a year after book one releases.
In one sentence, why should readers pick up a copy of The Infinity Courts?
This book is a cautionary tale of why you should be more polite to Siri and Alexa. (Seriously. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
Thank you so much for taking part in this author Q&A Akemi! I am so grateful for having the opportunity to ask you so many questions and have found your answers really interesting to read. (If there was ever any doubt, then YES Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the best game in existence). It is great to be able to talk more about The Infinity Courts and I can’t wait to be able to share more with everyone very soon! In the meantime please check out all of the brilliant bloggers taking part in The Infinity Courts buzz week. There are giveaways, character reveals and much more. Akemi has kindly put together a graphic to show you where to venture next!