Like a reliable older sister

At long last, the journalism club + one is now complete.

Natsumi posing outside the Katsurazaka Gate, Kenrokuen

Natsumi Nakazawa fronts the cover for Lily Clairet, Vol. 5. In doing so, she completes the line up for regular occupants of the Saisei High School journalism club room. Or in Natsumi’s case, just the doorway. I wonder if the day will ever come when those hinges will finally be squeak-free.

Volume 5’s reference photo, taken in spring 2018

For the background landmark, I’d planned on going for Kanazawa Station and its famous tsuzumi drums covering the east exit. Sadly, it’ll have to tap its feet for its long overdue appearance. Another iconic location has taken its place.

I briefly wrote about Kenrokuen in one of my earliest posts. And it also features in volume 3. Here, Natsumi is posing outside of the Katsurazaka Gate, leading directly to a tidy spree of souvenir shops before turning into the garden proper.

Although this is the main gate, it’s not the only one. Smaller, quieter entrances with their own little charms can be found dotted around its sizable perimeter, ensuring the garden remains one of the most accessible locations in Kanazawa.

And if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the gardeners at work, tending to the place one blade at a time.

Literally!

In Volume 5, Lily and company heads back home to Saisei High School to continue where they left off. Two weeks have passed since the trip to Hokkaido, and for some reason, the fit on Lily’s shoes don’t feel quite as comfortable as they did before. The world turns slowly for high schoolers, but as Satake says, nothing stays unchanging. For Lily and a few others, that turn happens more abruptly than they could have imagined.

And sometimes, I think that’s for the best.

Lily Clairet, Vol. 5 will be available January 21st, 2020.

Giving voice to Lily Clairet . . . and everyone else, too!

An audiobook for Lily Clairet, Vol. 1 is now in production!

. . . . . .

Also, the audiobook for Lily Clairet, Vol. 1 is now complete!

It will be available on Audible, Amazon and iTunes!

Aaaah!

The audiobook version of Lily Clairet, Vol. 1

. . . . . .

Also, the manuscript for Lily Clairet, Vol. 5 is now complete!

Aaahh!

The announcement for Volume 5’s completion, made on Twitter

It’s been something of a week for me. In the span of a few days, production of two major releases for the Lily Clairet light novels have been completed. I can never be called prolific, but for a few hours, I can pretend to be Stephen King on a bad day. Now I just have to keep this up for 52 years straight. And also become a good writer.

For the audiobook, it’s been edited and prepared for immediate publication. Clocking in at just under 9 hours, it now requires passing of Audible’s internal quality control checks before being released on its and its partners’ storefronts. Being my first audiobook with quite a few cogs to roll through, I’m hopelessly uncertain how long this process takes, but since I vowed to begin casting the 10th tier Arthurian spell called <Marketing> this year, here I am trying my hand at the black arts.

On the paper (and digital) front, the manuscript for Lily Clairet, Vol. 5 will undergo two editing passes before being released on the usual marketplaces. While it’s being edited, it will also be illustrated by Rumukuu, who I have to thank for each and every copy sold.

I’ll write up a dedicated tea time post regarding volume 5 once it’s closer to release, including a preview of the cover and a snippet or two of something else.

Speaking from the heart

Auditions for the role of Lily Clairet (and Sanae Kaneko, Kaede Satake, Natsumi Nakazawa, Kizuna, Yumi Yukihara, Emiko Hisakawa, Hina Hinata, Miss Miyakawa, Student A, Student B, Bored Counter Girl ….) took place just before the summer. While it’s long been my intention to get an audiobook out, it was something I put aside until the publication of Lily Clairet, Vol. 4, which remained my priority. Volume 4’s publication in May allowed me to move forward with the production of this audiobook.

I remain hugely grateful for the wide interest the role of Lily Clairet (and everyone else) attacted. Listening to each and every audition was an unforgettable experience, not least because this was my first time hearing other people’s reading of the characters.

The standard of submissions was beyond anything I could have hoped for. Despite this, the voice I chose cleanly stood out for how uncannily it matched the one in my head.

Savannah Rivers is a highly talented actressed based in California. Her conversational reading of Lily’s stream-of-consiousness style of narration combined with her magnificent acting of every character impressed me to no end. I’m pretty sure I could have thrown in the extended cast to My Fair Lady and she’d still be able to give everyone a distinct voice. Throughout the recording process, very little prompting was needed for her to be able to articulate Kaneko’s mischeviousness or Hisakawa’s world-ending fury to a tee. Although I’m new to the world of audiobook production, I feel certain that my utterly seamless foray into this industry is by no means standard.

In the end, I can only hope that the words on the paper does justice to the depth of Savannah’s voice.

The audiobook for Lily Clairet, Vol. 1 will be released in the near future. Please keep an ear out!

Spring has come, and so has new editions

Or at least, this was true when it happened in March. Summer is only a hopscotch length skip away now, and as usual, I have to remind myself that this is the case.

Being the thoughtful type, Mother Nature ensures that the best way for us to appreciate summer is to live in constant fear of winter. As June peeks around the corner, a cold air mass from Siberia arrives with the unfaltering stubbornness of an old Casio watch.

Someday, one or the other will break first. And to be fair to the watch, I think it might actually be the north wind first.

Left: The revised cover of volume one featuring the Asanogawa Bridge

New editions have arrived for the earlier volumes of the Lily Clairet light novels, prior to the publication of the 4th volume. On the surface, the covers have received an update. The feature characters remains the same, but both the backdrops and the title styling itself have changed. Beneath the surface, a number of interior illustrations have been redrawn, and the written content has received a significant editing pass.

The backdrops for all the covers now feature recognisable locations from Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, where the series is set. The backdrops are true to their real life counterparts, beautifully captured by Rumikuu and referenced directly from photographs I took around the city. I’ll write about some of the locations I chose in future blog posts, starting with the Kazue-machi tea district where the (new) 1st volume cover is set.

The title has received a trim just in time for summer. I’m still immeasurably fond of the longer, more zany title, but common sense dictated that something less head tilting would be more suitable at drawing in new readers. To my relief, this has been the case so far.

Left: The revised illustration without visual effects

A number of interior illustrations have also been redrawn, scene for scene, specifically to remove the visual effects elements more commonly seen in manga titles. This example (volume 1, chapter 7: Red Light / Green Light) has the most offenders with dotted lines, speech bubbles and a one-third sized illustration cut-in.

However, the main purpose for the new editions was a chance to smooth over a number of niggling written passages which didn’t hold up to the test of time. While none of the content has changed, readability should be more natural, and Lily’s copious use of similes and metaphors should make sense to at least one more person out there.

But not too much sense.

Then she’d no longer be Lily Clairet.

A tea time blog is born!

Salutations! To be honest, I’m not at all interesting (what a hook) but it seems like everyone started a blog ten years ago, and if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s being late to trends.

I mean, what am I doing still writing high school slice-of-lifes? Didn’t the K-On! boom fizzle out years ago? There’s not even any smoke at this point. Only the faint scent of nostalgia. If I knew what was good for me, I’d have Lily open her eyes and wake up in the litRPG genre. That’d be something. Her <Escape> skill would rise so fast that rabbits and does would ask her for advice.

But don’t worry! I’m not that far gone yet. To my readers, I promise all five of you that Lily will continue waking up to the sight of her blue curtains. And also the Roomba poking at her bed.

Thank you very much for dropping by.