Author Interview with Janeil Harricharan
About Janeil Harricharan
Janeil Harricharan is a young aspiring professional, working to share several stories through written work and game development. His current projects includes his sci-fi visual novel “The Dawnstar Chronicles”, his young adult fantasy novel series “Michiko Bates”, and lastly his new project “Voyage Across an Endless Sky”, an illustrated fiction work with a fantasy storybook feel. 29 years old, he graduated with his Bachelor’s in Digital Media from East Tennessee State University in 2013.
Janeil is an avid PC gamer, among other hobbies include writing, sketching and digital coloring. He currently resides in his rural hometown of Parrottsville, TN, helping his parents with their family-owned business as a second job. Living a transient lifestyle and traveling frequently, Janeil is on the hunt for a good suburb with a city nearby to call home and a special someone to share in his adventures with.
About his Book: Michiko Bates Chronicles: The Beginning
(Buy on Amazon) Michiko Bates Chronicles: The Beginning
Meet Michiko Bates, a 17-year-old living an average lifestyle in the suburbs of Manassas. VA. All this changes one night when a mysterious pendant shows up, granting her the ability to “slip’ between different worlds. After landing in the world of Talishaw like a fish out of water, she’s caught up in a struggle to save the city from destruction.
From a writer, a game designer and an illustrator, this unlikely trio comes together to bring this lovable (and cute) character to life this amazing fantasy adventure! Sporting over 50,000 words and 22 color illustrations, this will certainly be a must to read.
Your Book “Michiko Bates Chronicles: The Beginning” is the first in a series about a young teenage girl who has her life completely changed when a mysterious pendant show up? What sort of person if Michiko, can you tell us more about her personality and background?
Michiko is a smart, quiet but nerdy girl in her junior year of high school. She has a shared heritage as an American; her mom is Japanese but her dad is an American-Italian from New York. Michiko has lots of ideas, musings and thoughts, often keeping to herself and doing a lot of reflection. Despite her introvert nature she has a small circle of friends and most her desires are pretty covered, save a boyfriend. First glance she would seem to be an average character, but her thoughts, orientation towards tech and the want to do something “different” is what sets her apart.
Michiko travels to a distant world of Talishaw, where she is caught in the struggles to save a city from destruction. Does she have to face this struggle alone or will readers be introduced to other interested characters?
There’s a few characters that Michiko meets along the way to help her with the task at hand. Mainly it’s the locals of Talishaw, who have a good informational grasp of what’s going on. However a few characters seem to have been overseeing Michiko from the start, much like observers. The reader can find out more about them without giving spoilers.
What was your inspiration behind writing Michiko Bates Chronicles: The Beginning?
Believe it or not, it started with notebook doodles. Inspired by manga and anime, I had drawn several variants of an Asian girl in an Alice-esque type of outfit mixed with some everyday Japanese fashion. After a few times I thought, “It’s a shame this character is just a drawing. I wonder if there’s a story that I can make to go along with her?”
The concept soon boiled down to this glasses bookworm girl going to these different worlds like a modern traveler, decked out in this retro puffy-skirted outfit and carrying a bag full of everyday tech to catalog her adventures.
Per the actual book plot, when Tanya and I were discussing possible objectives for Michiko to face, our conversation covered “real” mythological beings and beasts from the 15th century. One in particular was the giant “roc” eagle described by sailors. Tanya was sold on the concept and we started from there.
Michiko Bates Chronicles: The Beginning is the combined work of a writer, illustrator and a game designer. That definitely sounds like there will be a lot of creative flare bursting out of the covers. What was it like working as a team to create the story of Michiko Bates?
Coordinating a book project is a good exercise in project management. You have to keep track that goals are being met, that you aren’t wasting too much time doing on one thing, and what to actually do if you’re not getting the result you’re wanting. I manage two other projects currently, and this was one of the easier ones to collaborate on.
Work was very compartmentalized, although there were a few instances we needed to put our heads together. We all complemented each other in our tasks. My skills of project management and conceptualization from game design helped immensely. Tanya was the skilled pen-wielder and Katarzyna gave the book a special touch with the illustrations.
Overall, we all knew that we’re working together on this project and wanted to see it through. We loved the character and tried to present her to the public with that goal to help connect to the reader. These thoughts helped us move towards the end of producing the book.
Where will Michiko’s pendant take her in the future? Will we get to read about more of her adventures?
We have lots of ideas of where to take her next. Many of her destinations are surreal-like environments, ranging from underwater cities, colossal caverns with unusual fauna, and even a place where reality seems to distort and end. A lot of ideas are churned out into a “to-do” pile, and we pick the best one we think will work next (tweaking if needed).
Production for the second book has already begun. There is no timeline currently, but the rough outline for writing started in the beginning of November 2015. How fast we get each adventure done and how long it carries on is yet to be seen. We most definitely want to share more stories of her adventures.
Janeil you seem to be quite the creative person, when did you start writing? What has been you greatest inspiration?
I started writing when I was about thirteen years old. Primarily it was on loose notebook leafs; writing never became a serious thing until about 2008 when I competed in Nanowrimo for the first time. Since then, writing for me has become less of a whimsical hobby and more of a productive endeavor. I would like to point out that the advent of owning technology such as a laptop and tablet directly correlated to my increased interest of writing.
Science fiction shows and lots of fantasy books when I was younger were my main inspiration. Two particular book series that I loved was the Unicorns of Balinor books by Mary Station, and the Narnia books. My sci-fi side was nurtured by things like Stargate, Star Trek and Babylon 5 . All helped me expand my horizons of what I could write and what could be done in the future.
So you say you are an avid PC gamer, what games are you known to play and what would be your favourite?
As of now, Elite: Dangerous is a huge favorite. Nothing beats a near-open universe, a ship of your choosing and countless places to trade with and explore. When I’m not doing that, I’m more into strategy and indie platformer/puzzle games. Things like Sanctum 2, Ori and the Blind Forest, Age of Empires 3, Supreme Commander and the Homeworld collection are a few.
Occasionally I play with my younger brother on the weekend and even my cousin who’s in med school at times. Most of the time gaming is a social activity for me and I enjoy interacting with other players.
You are frequently travelling? Where have you been and what has been your most favourite destination?
Yes, I am! Not as much as I like in the last few months, but I enjoy the freedom and new sights that traveling provides. Having lived in a rural farm community for basically all my life, it’s a nice change to see different things and meet new people. I’m used to the displacement; it brings a strange sense of comfort, confidence and fulfillment just zooming down the Interstate or hopping in a plane somewhere.
I’ve been to places on the US East Coast mainly, with one or two spots in Canada. I’ve not had the proper opportunity to travel internationally yet. New York City, Orlando, Washington D.C, Toronto, Atlanta and Memphis are a few places I have checked off.
Hmm, that’s a hard one! I’m split between two; I’d have to say New York City and Charlotte would be my two favorite destinations. NYC simply has so much different people walking around, so much to see and do. Charlotte is within a stone’s throw from home, offers a nice road trip and tends to blend city conveniences with some nice suburbs nearby.
What words of guidance would you give to other writers, of all ages, who have embarked on their own journeys to write fiction?
I have three major points to give, all which are pretty simple but very important.
First, when you decide to write your fiction, you need to actually start and always endeavor to finish. You can have all these great ideas but if you don’t put your nose to the grindstone, it will never see the light of day (nor will readers if that is your intention). Likewise, if you never finish it, it will remain “half-baked”, possibly permanently. (Trust me, it’s very hard to try to pick up on an incomplete story that’s seven years old).
Take it as it goes; view it as a journey rather than an obstacle. You may not like what you type first. You may want the perfect beginning. These will come in time. Your end goal should be having a complete story (or the installment of a series) to expand and work with.
If you are writing something for publishing, you need to have a finished story to work with. It’s easy to remodel a house with paint, add a room or such if it’s built, but it’s extremely hard to do that when the concrete foundation is missing. Same principle. Once you have a complete story, you can add parts, take out parts, edit and proofread (very important!). You’re so much closer with that step. Finish the work you started.
On a lesser note, outlines do help if you have the constant problem of staring at a blank screen for hours on end. When you have the urge to write, get the basic ideas down first (i.e, Michiko meeting a legendary fish, for example). As you dwell or plot more, expand on it. (Michiko meets a talking fish, which tells her a 8,000 year old story about the black kraken, etc.) Soon you should have a small summarizing paragraph with the important points of your idea, typically covering the span of a chapter. When you go to write, it’s extremely easy to build off this summary and turn a 300 word summary into a 700-1000+ word paragraph, depending on how detailed you were.
Third and last, I leave that the ability to publish a book has gotten a lot easier. With the advent of POD (print-on-demand) and the options of Amazon Kindle, it’s easy to publish a book on your own short of money needed to pay for print material. Polish your work as best as you can (don’t cut corners), and go out there and make it happen.
If our readers would like to find out more about you, or contact you, where can they go?
Readers can visit my homepage, . Not only will you get updates on my book projects, you’ll see a whole host of other things, including my art gallery and a blog I’m starting up (mostly for entertainment and informational tidbits). I have a contact form there if anyone wishes to contact me. Additionally I have a Twitter handle if you need to get ahold of me via social media: @blueoriontiger
What’s next for Janeil Harricharan? What will be your next project?
I’m currently turning my attention to a long-term project I’ve had in the works, a sci-fi visual novel game called Dawnstar . Following the footsteps of the space privateer Raju and his entourage of female companions, the visual novel gives the player a chance to embark on several adventures, shaping their outcome by choosing simple choices throughout the game.
Originally a college portfolio project in 2012, it’s currently gone under massive revision since. It’s art assets were completed in late October and currently has some writing and music assets to finish before release. I’m aiming for a release sometime in approximately January or the first part of 2016.
On the back burner is another book collaboration called Voyage Across the Endless Sky . A more art-oriented work with a storybook flair, two illustrators and I work together to visualize the journey of a young boy and his foster mother, trying to answer questions about the boy’s origins.
This was started up in August 2015, and has a quite a long ways to go. However it’s proceeding smoothly so far, and will receive my full attention when Dawnstar is released.