A lifelong love of fantasy and scribbling has morphed into a promised writing career for Dr Benjamin Chandler, who has just landed a two-book contract with publisher Random House Australia.
His first novel, Lady of Rain, is the first in a six-part series of the adventures of twins Lenis and Missy, slaves sold to the service of the warlord of Shinzo.
The novel formed part of the creative component of Dr Chandler’s doctoral thesis looking at the representation of Japanese and Western heroes in modern fantasy fiction.
“I’ve always loved fantasy and the gothic, and I grew up watching anime and playing video games,” Dr Chandler said.
“I am fascinated by the uniqueness of Japanese heroes because they’re not afraid of throwing together a werewolf, a vampire, a deranged puppet master, a wolf and a half-demon and making them heroes,” he said.
“These really far out, over the top heroic figures are so different from the Arthurian heroes or the Beowulf figure.”
Dr Chandler’s research has revealed a kind of inverse relationship between Japanese and Western heroes, but both with origins in Creation myths.
“In the West, a hero is a single figure often split in two. A classic example is Lancelot: he’s divided between his devotion to duty and his devotion to love. It’s a tradition that goes right back to Adam’s rib splitting off to become Eve,” Dr Chandler said.
“In Japan, you have two heroes who function together as a single entity but it’s very different to the hero/sidekick relationship we see in the West. This dual hero goes back to the Japanese Creation characters Izanagi and Izanami.”
While Lenis and Missy owe something to the Japanese dual hero, Dr Chandler said he is more interested in creating characters the reader can engage with.
“I just love a good story and interesting characters, but there’s also a part of me that thinks you can do a lot with speculative fiction.”
Lady of Rain is scheduled for release in September 2010.