December 16, 2014

A Circus of Metaphors: a guest post by Kristi Charish, author of "Owl and the Japanese Circus"

Kristi Charish is the author of a forthcoming urban fantasy series OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS (Jan 13th, 2015, Simon and Schuster Canada/Pocket Books), about a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. She writes what she loves; adventure heavy stories featuring strong, savvy female protagonists, pop culture, and the occasional RPG fantasy game thrown in the mix. The second installment, OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS, is scheduled for release Jan 2016.

Kristi is also a scientist with a BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. Her specialties are genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology, all of which she draws upon in her writing. She is represented by Carolyn Forde at Westwood Creative Artists.

A Circus of Metaphors
by Kristi Charish

When I first approached Gef about doing a blog tour stop here he came back with an article idea: How about something on circuses in fantasy? (my upcoming novel is titled Owl and the Japanese Circus)

Fantastic idea!...Except there aren’t technically any circuses in Owl and the Japanese Circus, despite the title. There is a Japanese Circus, but it’s just the name of a fictional Las Vegas casino.

So, being both a writer and researcher I got to thinking about why I chose the Japanese Circus instead of The Tokyo Club or the Japanese Casino, or something equally telling.

The reason I came up with is this: the imagery evoked by the word circus is uniquely eclectic. There isn’t just one picture that comes to mind, there’s a kaleidoscope of interpretations. Circus can inspire everything from innocent humor, (think the weekday comic strip Family Circus), to a suggestively dark and magic wonderland hinted at by the title of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. And let’s not forget the horror circuses inspire- either as a perverse stage for a serial killer or the deep-routed, unholy fear of all things Clown courtesy of Steven King’s Joyland and It respectively.

The trick is you never quite know quite which incarnation (or mix of all the above) you’re going to get until you open the pages. It’s a clear noun that carries a palpable and irresistible level of uncertainty, a chaotic and unexpected mix of possibilities unlike most other words in our culture.

There might not be any real circuses in Owl and the Japanese Circus, but that uncertainty, whether it signifies innocent wonder, a corruptive, surreal sense of adventure or imminent horror courtesy of a childhood haunt - the circuses of speculative fiction are a place you know doesn’t feel quite right but you still need to step inside...

Well that kind of word really is priceless. 

About Owl and the Japanese Circus (find it on and Chapters)Fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Linda Hamilton will flock to the kick-ass world of Owl, a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world.

Ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief, Alix—better known now as Owl—has one rule. No supernatural jobs. Ever. Until she crosses paths with Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns and runs the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas. He insists Owl retrieve an artifact stolen three thousand years ago, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. A dragon is about the only entity on the planet that can deliver on Owl’s vampire problem – and let’s face it, dragons are known to eat the odd thief.

Owl retraces the steps of Mr. Kurosawa’s ancient thief from Japan to Bali with the help of her best friend, Nadya, and an attractive mercenary. As it turns out though, finding the scroll is the least of her worries. When she figures out one of Mr. Kurosawa’s trusted advisors is orchestrating a plan to use a weapon powerful enough to wipe out a city, things go to hell in a hand basket fast…and Owl has to pick sides.

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