Who doesn’t love a character who can punch a hole through the Earth’s core, or a sparky Buddhist dad who knows thousands of ways to cook tofu? I have to confess, I really cut loose with Oni the Lonely, let my freaky fiction flag fly, and had a blast writing Mari.
Oni the Lonely is a young adult paranormal romance and complimentary copies are available to reader-reviewers for a very limited time on NetGalley. http://goo.gl/QaxgvO
I hope you’ll check it out! In the meantime, here’s the cover blurb and an excerpt:
Mari Kato, 16, wants what everyone else her age wants: driver’s license. Too bad a family curse, passed on by her Japanese-born Buddhist dad, who claims to be thousands of years old, transforms Mari into a flesh-eating Oni demon when she feels frustrated (like every time she gets behind the wheel). But when her geologist mom moves their vegan-lifestyle-obsessed family to Rock Creek, Mari stumbles upon the gates of Hell and a mining company plundering its depths. Add in an evil cheerleader determined to steal Mari’s first boyfriend and plunge the Earth into eternal darkness. Suddenly getting the keys to the car isn’t as important as saving the world. Totally dealable… if she can find the courage to reveal her demon self.
Stuffed behind the driver’s seat, my emergency suitcase held a change of clothes and two-dozen pairs of size-seven pink canvas sneakers. I’d gone through a lot of shoes in the last month. Ever since my sixteenth birthday.
“Your body is going through changes, Mari.” She reached back and patted my knee, sympathetic.
“Mom, stop it.” I didn’t want to hear it. Not now.
“Your father and I are just trying to help you.” Her pale blonde hair, pulled back in a ponytail, caught the late afternoon light. She’s as blond, willowy and tall as my dad is dark, stocky and short.
Unfortunately, I take after my dad.
I shrank deeper into the seat, wishing I could disappear. On top of everything else that could possibly go wrong in my life, I’m short. My body is a mish-mash of two worlds. My skin is the color of a latte, my eyes are brown, and I have a case of radish legs. Daikon no ashi. In Japan they have these thick white radishes called daikon. Ashi means legs. You get the picture. Thick legs, daikon no ashi.
“If you really wanted to help, you’d let me drive,” I whined. “My learner’s permit is still good.”
“Maybe when we’re closer to Rock Creek and farther away from traffic,” my dad answered.
“What traffic?” I peered out the window. “We’ve been driving for over six hours. All I see is desert and sagebrush.”
“There are cows, too.”
“Fine, a few cows. As long as they stay on their side of the road can I drive?” I wasn’t about to give up. After we passed Bend, Oregon, and turned off the interstate I hadn’t seen a single car. “How about now?”
“Soon,” my dad answered.
“If I don’t practice I won’t get my license until I’m three hundred years old!”
“Well, I didn’t get my oxcart license until I was five hundred.” He always saw the bright side of everything. It was his nature. Everyone said he was sparky. When you’ve had a day like mine, sparky is just annoying.
“Dad, you are not thousands of years old, and you are not a demon,” I protested. My parents exchanged worried glances, annoying me even more. “And I’m not a demon either. There is no such thing as demons.”
“I denied my horns and claws once, too.” He sighed.
“It’s just hormones,” I stated. Sex-ed taught me everything I needed to know about that.
“Demon hormones,” he answered calmly.
I rolled my eyes. Dad told me bedtime stories about demons since I was a baby. Happy, friendly demons. Dancing demons. He claimed it wasn’t Santa Claus who delivered Christmas presents, it was a red demon.
The Easter Bunny was a white demon.
Cinderella had a purple fairy god-demon.
“You’re obsessed with demons.”
“But I was one.” Not that I ever saw him do anything vaguely demonic. He was the least demonic of any creature to ever walk the Earth.
My mom looked at me pouting in the rearview mirror, then turned to my dad. “It’s okay with me if she drives if it’s okay with you.”
He pulled the car to the shoulder. Finally, something to look forward to. Settling into the driver’s seat, I adjusted the mirrors as my mom climbed in back. Ahead of me, the cracked and faded gray strip of pavement was divided by a worn centerline. Probably rubbed off by all the people escaping from Rock Creek.
I put the transmission in drive. Everything was better behind the wheel. At sixty miles an hour, a mile went by every minute. This corner of the world was flat as pancake. There was nothing on the horizon other than more desert. Then the minutes stretched out. A mile seemed like ten minutes, and my brain started to completely shut down, until I saw something different. Something strange.
A block of stone.
Alone, sitting in the dirt that was the same color. It was as if the Egyptians, after building the pyramids, had a left over block and stuck it in the middle of the Oregon. Plop. Here it is. Enjoy!
“Did you see that?” I asked my dad as we whizzed past.
He was staring blankly out the window. “What?”
“A big stone block,” I answered.
My mom leaned forward over the seat and pointed to another block coming up fast on the other side. “Like that?”
“Yeah.” I looked at the new block, identical to the last one. A big stone rectangle.
“There’s a lot more,” mom added.
She was right. At first there was just a stone block here and a stone block there. Then there were more and more. They were scattered everywhere. On both sides of the road, like it had rained stone blocks.
“There’re hundreds of them,” I said, amazed.
“Hundreds of thousands,” my mom corrected me. “That’s why we’re here.”
The deep bass of an air horn blared behind us. I jumped, hit my head on the inside of the car roof, then looked in the rearview mirror. A truck grill took up the whole thing. The truck’s big engine roared as he pulled into the oncoming lane and passed us. On the door of the dump truck were the words: Rock Creek Mining Company.
As he pulled ahead, I noticed the back of his empty truck was the same size and shape as all the stone blocks.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“Slag,” my mom said using her best geologist voice. “Made at the Rock Creek Mining Company. That’s who I work for now.”