Thursday 22 August 2013

500 Words From Julian Kim

500 Words From is a series of guest posts from authors.  Here, Julian Kim talks about  his first novel, SAINTS: Song of Winds.  This is a fast-paced, multicultural, quasi-historical mystery-thriller that combines a race-against-the-clock adventure, with contemporary concerns about the weather, with a love story, to produce a wild and satisfying romp.

Julian Kim was born in Seoul, but as a child he lived in other places in Asia, as well as in Europe, and in the Americas. Thus from an early age he was fascinated by cultural diversity, and as an adult he continued his nomadic existence, living in New York, London, Hong Kong and Seoul.

Julian now lives in Singapore, where, in 2012,  SAINTS: Song of Winds was the winner of a competition sponsored by the National Arts Council, to promote the works of unpublished authors.  It was subsequently published by Straits Times Press:

So: 500 words from Julian Kim

With SAINTS: Song of Winds  I was hoping to create something which would be fun to write and  fun to read. In addition, I wanted to fuse modern and historical elements of Asian and Latin American cultures - the core action occurs mainly in China and Peru, with meaningful scenes also taking place in Korea, India, Mongolia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

As we all know, our world is full of stories – there is so much history, so many nations and regions and cultures. Past human civilisation has left us so many traces - superstitions, fairy tales, legends and myths. Granted, much of this wealth has been lost in the mists of time, but the gaps in our knowledge allow us both to imagine what-ifs, and also to wonder about the borders between fiction and non-fiction.  Without a doubt, Asia offers a vast and rich depository of history and civilisation from which we can mine and spin a million what-if factual fictions.

The same is true for the world of unexplained phenomena. We often hear stories about the paranormal, about the extraterrestrial, and about bizarre creatures. I think most of us can agree that there's still much that we don't understand about our planet, the universe, and the realms of the physical and the spiritual, especially as they relate to the human mind.

So with all this wealth of secrets and mysteries surrounding Asia and the world we live in, I could not resist creating a world of somewhat plausible histories, mysteries and uncommon abilities.

SAINTS: Song of Winds begins two thousand years ago in China, when a geomancer leads a tribe out of the tomb of Emperor Qin. One thousand years later, in Peru, the immense treasure of the Incas is lost to the world.  And today, a strange terracotta soldier is unearthed in the ancient capital of China.

In my novel SAINTS is an acronym standing for Syndicated Alliance of Irregular and Talented Specialists. It is a secretive organisation whose purpose is to save nations, when all else fails. The members of SAINTS look like ordinary people and behave like ordinary people, most of the time. But they have very special talents.

There’s a Korean boy who teaches at school and can secretly control the winds. There’s an American university student who studies animals and discovers she can heal people. There’s a young Singaporean billionaire who plays the financial markets and who possesses an unnatural intuition. There’s an old Mexican man in Manhattan who sells hot dogs and can see your past. And they are all connected in a web of fate that stretches from ancient China to the mountains of present-day Peru.

Using sheer intellect and mastering their subtle supernatural talents,  the four heroes  join forces with the leader of Peru to free the country from a mysterious villain who is causing havoc with the weather.  But before they can save the day they must unlock the cryptic codes of Emperor Qin’s tomb and also find the lost treasure of the Incas. Somehow, they realise, the tomb and the treasure are connected.

In essence, SAINTS: Song of Winds can be loosely described as a kind of Indiana Jones meets The Da Vinci Code, in an Asian and Latin American context. Key events include monstrous battles with lightning and tornadoes in the desert plains of Peru, desperate scrambles through deadly chambers in the tomb complex of Emperor Qin, and an epic cavalry battle between the ancient forces of China and Mongolia.