The Tale of Shikanoko

The Tale of Shikanoko

posted in: Lian Writes... | 13

Dear Reader,

I would like to tell you a little about this book, part epic, part romance, part fairy story.

Five years ago I was in the northeastern region of Japan, a few months before the devastating tsunami of 2011. In Iwate prefecture I saw young men rehearsing dances for festivals – the oni sword dances and the deer dances. Their masks and costumes were striking but the thing that made the greatest impression on me was the resonance of a vanished world, where the lives of people and animals were more closely entwined and where the supernatural was an accepted element of life.

Up until the twentieth century representations of humans in landscapes portray people as tiny compared to the vastness of forests and mountains. Standing next to one of these young men, I had a flash of seeing backwards through time and I knew a novel was going to come into existence. I wanted to try and recreate this medieval world where the human response to both nature and the spiritual world was one of awe and wonder.

That was the first germ, but there were many other elements. For a long time I have loved the great warrior tales of medieval Japan such as Tales of the Heike and Revenge of the Soga Brothers. Around the same time as I met the deer dancer I visited the place where Yoshitsune is said to have committed suicide, and on the same day read Basho’s poem, written at Hiraizumi:

 Ah summer grasses,

All that remains

Of warriors’ dreams

Then, a couple of fans wrote to me and asked if I would ever go further back into the world of the Otori, and relate the life of the hero Takeyoshi who is briefly mentioned in Heaven’s Net is Wide. I’ve also had questions about the origins of the Tribe. As I began to explore and research the medieval world more fully all these strands came together into the Tale of Shikanoko, the Deer’s Child.

I hope you will enjoy everything that lies within its pages,

Warmest wishes,

Lian Hearn.

13 Responses

  1. Sylvain M.

    Dear Mrs Hearn,

    Congratulations for this amazing project ! I really enjoyed reading the Tale of Otori, and I am looking forward to discovering the Tale of Shikanoko.

    I could read a few pages of “Emperor of the eight islands” on your Australian publisher’s website, and discovered sadly that my English is not yet good enough to fully appreciate your text. Is a translation into French already planned ?

    Best wishes,

    • Lian Hearn

      Thank you for your message. Gallimard are going to publish the new books in French but I am not sure of their dates yet.

  2. I just randomly did a search on your name on Amazon to see if there was anything new. I’m so delighted to learn that you are writing the Tale of Shikanoko. I have listened to the 4 book Otori audiobook series twice now. I am looking forward to the April release of this first in what I know will be a fabulous series.

    • Lian Hearn

      Hi Arwen, thanks for visiting the site and for your comment. The first book of The Tale of Shikanoko came out in the US yesterday – it’s very exciting.

  3. Rodrigo

    Hello! I’m a big fan of his work, I read Tales of the Otori, and I looked forward to some new written by you saga, wanted to know if tales of shikanoko will be released in Spanish just as they did with tales of the otori?

    • Lian Hearn

      Thanks for your comment. I am waiting to hear if the Spanish publishers are going to take The Tale of Shikanoko. Keep your fingers crossed. I will let you know.

  4. Chisi Amanda Xiong

    Hello Lian Hearn, I just picked up your novels The tales of Shikanoko volume 1 and 2! I started the first one a few days ago. Loving the journey of Shikanoko. I’m definitely a few fan!

    • Lian Hearn

      Thanks so much! I hope you enjoy the rest of the journey – Book 3 is out today in the US and Book 4 next month.

  5. Ben Nakagaki

    My wife and I have finished book 1 and 2 and are eagerly awaiting the next two. Thank you for your work and the amazing world you have created.

    • Lian Hearn

      Thanks for such a nice comment. Book 3 is out today in the US. (I think Book 4 is my favourite)

      • Ben Nakagaki

        Exciting! Thank you twice. Once for writing back and once for writing the books! Thrilled to see what your fav will bring. Cheers.

  6. Just finished reading harsh cry of the heron again, I love these books they feel like home. I won’t give away the plot but the ending always makes me cry! Are you planning on making these stories into movies?

    • I’m so glad people reread the books! The movie rights for the trilogy were sold to Universal years ago, but they haven’t done anything with them. Very disappointing, but maybe one day someone will turn them all into a series for TV. Thanks for your comment, Lorna.

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