We are excited to reveal the covers for two enchanting and action-packed YA debuts coming soon from Tundra Book Group: Clara Kumagai’s Catfish Rolling and Ann Sei Lin’s Rebel Skies!
Keep scrolling for the covers and as an exclusive treat, the authors interviewed each other!
Cover Design: Deena Micah Fleming and Sophie Paas-Lang
Illustration: Andrew Davis
By Clara Kumagai
352 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774882764 | Penguin Teen Canada
Release Date: October 3, 2023
There’s a catfish under Japan, and when it rolls, the land rises and falls. At least, that’s what Sora was told after she lost her mother to an earthquake so powerful that it cracked time itself. Sora and her father are some of the few who still live near the most powerful of these “zones” – the places where time has been irrevocably sped up, or slowed down.
When high school ends, and her best friend leaves for university, Sora finds herself stuck and increasingly alone. She begins secretly conducting her own research, tracking down a time expert in Tokyo. She also feels increasingly conflicted in her quasi-romantic feelings for her best friend – and for the time expert’s assistant, a strikingly weird and confident girl named Marina, the first other hafu (half-Japanese, half-non) Sora has ever met.
But when Sora’s father disappears, she has no choice but to return home and venture deep into the abandoned time zones to find him, and perhaps the catfish itself . . .
About the Author:
Clara Kumagai is from Canada, Japan and Ireland. Her fiction and non-fiction for children and adults has been published in The Stinging Fly, The Irish Times, Banshee, Room, The Kyoto Journal and Cicada, among others. She is a recipient of a We Need Diverse Books Mentorship, and was a finalist for the 2020 Jim Wong-Chu Emerging Writers Award. Catfish Rolling is her debut novel.
Ann interviews Clara
Ann: What inspired you to write Catfish Rolling?
Clara: The first inspiration is the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and its aftermath – I was drawn into thinking about what life might look like after such a catastrophe, on the personal level of individual characters but also to a landscape. Because of the nuclear disaster at the TEPCO power plant, there are still exclusion areas in Tohoku where people can’t return to, and those deserted places were the inspiration not just for setting but for the time zones in the novel.
Ann: Where did you get the idea for fractured time and what inspired you to blend sci-fi with Japanese mythology?
Clara: The idea of time breakage came when I learned that the 2011 earthquake was so big that it shifted the earth on its axis – it actually began to spin faster – and as a result our day is a tiny bit shorter. (1.8 microseconds, to be precise.) It also caused Honshu, the main island of Japan, to move more than 6ft east. This seemed like science fiction to me when I learned it because it was pretty mind-boggling. So my idea of time breaking came from there, and on a bigger level it also fit in with being caught in the past or painful events. Trauma, grief and loss can catch and hold people in the past or in certain memories, and I wanted to explore how I could create a physical setting that conveyed that. The Japanese myth of the catfish is an old explanation for the cause of earthquakes, so as I researched I came upon the story and it just made sense to me. I’ve always loved myth and folklore, and they can simultaneously function as both entertaining stories and serious metaphors.
Ann: How did you first create Sora and is she your favorite character?
Clara: A lot of my writing is led by voice, and Sora’s voice just emerged as I began to write this story. I enjoy writing dialogue, and find it’s a good way to build a character, as well as exploring relationships and dynamics with other characters in a story. Once I have a feel for a character’s voice, I build up other elements like background, habits, actions . . . those details that make a character full and real. I don’t know if Sora is my favorite character (though I do love her!). My favorite may be Naomi because she is so smart and intimidating!
Illustration: Amir Zand
By Ann Sei Lin
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774883983 | Tundra Books
Release Date: February 13, 2024
Kurara has never known any other life than being a servant onboard the Midori, a flying ship serving the military elite of the Mikoshiman Empire, a vast realm of floating cities. Kurara also has a secret – she can make folded paper figures come to life with a flick of her finger. But when the Midori is attacked and Kurara’s secret turns out to be a power treasured across the empire, a gut-wrenching escape leads her to the gruff Himura, who takes her under his wing. Under Himura’s tutelage, and with the grudging support and friendship of his crew, Kurara learns to hunt shikigami – wild paper spirits sought after by the Princess of Mikoshima. But what does the princess really want with the shikigami? Are they merely enchanted figures without will or thought, or are they beings with souls and minds of their own? As fractures begin to appear both across the empire and within Kurara’s understanding of herself, Kurara will have to decide who she can trust. Her fate, and the fate of her friends – and even the world – may rest on her choice. And time is running out.
About the author:
Ann Sei Lin is an author and librarian with a love for all things fantasy. Although London is now her home, she spent several years living and working in China, Japan, and is originally from Singapore. She received an undergraduate degree in Japanese Literature and completed an M.A. in Creative Writing, for which she was awarded a Distinction. When not writing, she is studying, gaming or doing origami.
Clara interviews Ann
Clara: What inspired you to use origami as the basis of a magic system?
Ann: I love origami (although I’m not great at it myself!) and so I wanted to make a world that revolved around paper craft. I think it’s quite interesting to turn something usually seen as fragile and weak into an instrument of power.
Clara: Were you influenced/inspired by other media such as movies, books, art, etc.?
Ann: I was really inspired by Ghibli movies, particularly Castle in the Sky and Princess Mononoke. I think there might be a touch of Howl’s Moving Castle in the design of some cities too!
Clara: The sky cities and origami are so visually striking – do you make maps or draw while you’re world building?
Ann: I did! Actually, the maps and insets in the books are based on my own sketches, which were then passed onto my illustrator to make them look a lot better. I like to draw and initially I did sketches of the characters and places, as well as commissioned some artwork as well. I think my favorite is a commissioned piece of the Orihime!
Clara: Names are significant (especially in Rebel Fire) and I was wondering how you chose Kurara as the main character’s name? (Asking this because my first name in Japanese is basically the same, though written in katakana only: クララ!)
Ann: I can’t remember who said ‘your name is your parent’s hopes for you,’ but I thought it was a beautiful sentiment. During the Meiji era, we were just starting to see girl’s names written with kanji, so in my mind Kurara’s name would be 苦楽楽 which includes the character for suffering and the character for comfort. It’s a bit of a weird reading, I know, but even though Kurara was going to suffer through this series, I wanted her to come out of things alright in the end. I suppose her name represented my wishes for her!