The Sixth Precept In 16th century medieval Japan, Yoshima Mitsu, who is gifted with psychic powers, uses her prescient abilities to send her young attendant, Shioko, into the future. There, Mitsu believes Shioko will be safe from the purges of the maniacal warlord Omori Kadanamora, his warrior monks and his half-human, half-bestial Shadow-Trackers. In present-day Pittsburgh, police Lieutenant Kim Yoshima is attacked by a creature out of someone’s twisted nightmare. In the aftermath of that terrifying struggle, Kim finds a young Japanese girl named Shioko, lost, confused and calling Kim “Mitsu” and her monstrous attacker a “Shadow-Tracker.” Wayne Brewster dreams of the costumed hero, ArcNight. But more than that, he feels bizarrely connected to the fictional crime fighter as if ArcNight and his comic book world are real. And in all of his dreams, Brewster sees one constant, one face repeated over and over--the face of Kim Yoshima. Empowered by a mysterious book, The Five Precepts to Enlightenment, Kim realizes her destiny is in the past. Using her own burgeoning esper powers, Kim, accompanied by Shioko and Brewster, travel by means of a temporal rift to feudal Japan. There they must assume different personas to fight Omori and creatures of Japan’s mythological world to fulfill ancient prophesy and modern historical fact. If they fail, history will be altered and the world will change forever.
Kim heard the shot just as she was putting her briefcase into her car. She didn’t think twice, her instincts taking over. She pulled her Sig P228 and an extra clip from her backpack, threw the pack into the back seat and headed for the lot’s exit door.
The door had a special keyed locking system on the outside to keep possible intruders out. From within the parking lot, it was essentially an emergency exit. She looked up at the security camera stationed above the door and thought about contacting Joe, Lazo’s security head. No time, she decided. Besides, there was no need for two people to be in a possible line-of-fire. Once she took stock of the situation, she’d call for backup on her cell phone. She punched the button and as the door shussed open, exited the lot.
The humidity was all over her; heavy, moist air settling on her skin like a hot towel. It had stopped raining but the streets steamed; the glow of the streetlights cast an eerie luminescence throughout the empty block. She blinked, creeping into the shadows at the side of the garage and then, quickly, opened the section of gating outside the emergency exit and jogged out into the street.
No sounds. Nothing. The street was devoid of life.
That was when she saw the figure walk out into the light.
An Interview with the author . . .
Back in the ‘70s, I read James Clavell’s great, sprawling novel, SHOGUN, and just loved it. That started my interest in medieval Japan, which I never considered writing about myself. But, I guess the idea of doing just that was floating around in the back of my mind all the time. Over a few years, I wrote four short stories featuring my protagonist from THE SIXTH PRECEPT, Kim Yoshima, two of which were eventually published in M-Brane SF (“Time Noir”) and by IFWG Publishing as an ebook (“A Concerned Citizen”). There wasn’t much in the way of ancient Japan in any of those stories but when I realized I was essentially writing a short story series, the idea for a novel began to form and shirabyoshis, daimyo, samurai and Japanese myth were perfect additions to my world-building.
What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?
Finding time to write has been my greatest challenge. So far I haven’t gotten writer’s block or run out of ideas. I’m always thinking of a new stories to write. But finding the time to do all of that has been daunting. I figured out that writing every day or several times a week just for 15 to 30 minutes each time works for me. Sometimes that will stretch out to much longer periods and it’s amazing how the pages will mount up, no matter if I’m working on a story or a novel.
If you had to sum it up the book in 30 or less words, what would you say?
THE SIXTH PRECEPT is an urban fantasy with SF and horror elements, part of it taking place in contemporary Pittsburgh and part in ancient Japan.
Will you share with us a short preview of THE SIXTH PRECEPT?
Sixteenth century Japan and Pittsburgh, PA of 2010 come together in a story of time travel, mental telepathy, reincarnation and metamorphosis. Pittsburgh police office Kim Yoshima discovers a connection to an ancient ancestor which starts her incredible journey into a heart of darkness in both past and present. Fighting side-by-side with Wayne Brewster, a man with his own secrets, Kim struggles to save not only the young girl she has grown to love as a sister but the fate of the multiverse and of history itself.
What message do you hope readers take away from the book?
That change, no matter how enormous or drastic, is a part of life and must be faced head-on.
What is your favorite scene in THE SIXTH PRECEPT?
In chapter 9 of the novel, Kim encounters a shadow-tracker for the first time. This genetically bred man-beast is part of an army of such creatures that have been searching for the reincarnated “Yomitsu” for centuries. Kim’s horror and disbelief in battling this creature is a crucial moment in the book when she realizes the world is a much different place than she ever realized. Also, the setup at the beginning of the chapter where Kim and her friend Lazo discuss medieval Japan and Kim’s family history recounts the story up to that point. I’ve used this chapter in readings I’ve done because it’s basically a good introduction to the plot.
Of the books you’ve written, which is your favorite?
Of the three complete novels I’ve written, THE SIXTH PRECEPT is definitely my favorite. Though it was my third novel, it is the first to have been published and it’s my most personal novel in a couple of ways. Both main characters, Kim and Wayne Brewster, have aspects of my own personality as part of their makeups--Kim, in her outlook on life, and Wayne with his comic-book and super hero connections.
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
My second novel, MAGUS STAR RISING (written before THE SIXTH PRECEPT) is being published by IFWG Publishing next year. This is a futuristic science fiction novel with a number of characters, both human and alien, involved in all manners conspiratorial and mysterious. I’m currently working on the sequel to THE SIXTH PRECEPT, part of which will take place in Venice, Italy.
What has been your greatest pleasure or personal success as an author?
My greatest pleasure and success as an author is to be able to create the worlds of my imagination for others to share. To be able to allow people into my own personal universe on a large scale and have that universe entertain and, hopefully, enlighten is a feeling beyond words.
Did you have a favorite character or hero as a child? Do you have a literary hero as an adult?
Batman was my favorite growing up. Salman Rushdie is a literary hero of mine not only because of his writing but of his experience in dealing with the fatwa put out against him.
What’s the best book your mother ever gave or read to you?
THE WIZARD OF OZ. I remember both my parents reading this to my brother and me and how amazed I was when I first saw the movie (which I love also) and realized how different it was from the book. The main differences being the events in the book were not a dream and the characters actually got what they wanted—a real heart, a real brain, real courage!
Who or what has most influenced your writing?
The authors who have influenced my writing are pretty disparate--Andre Norton, William Gibson, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Dan Simpson, C.S. Friedman. I’m drawn to action-oriented stories but also love more introspective, character-driven ones. Comic books also fuel some of my characters, many of whom find they have developed some kind of power, physical or mental, that they have to deal with.
Is there a genre you wish you could write, but haven’t made the plunge? Which one and
what appeals to you about it?
Mystery. I love reading mysteries and have often thought of writing one but they seem really difficult to put together. All those clues and red herrings! How do you tie all of that together? Maybe someday.
How do you feel about book trailers and do you have any?
I like book trailers—they’re another marketing tool that’s visually interesting and attention-getting. I created a book trailer for THE SIXTH PRECEPT with Windows Movie Maker and it’s on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrhNXpNP9Zk.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
Don’t let rejections get you down. If you get a story or book rejected by one market, send it out to the next right away! Perseverance does work.
Meet the Author
Larry Ivkovich is an IT professional and the author of several science fiction, fantasy and horror short stories and novellas, published online and in various print publications and anthologies including M-Brane SF, Afterburn SF, Penumbra, Twisted Cat Tales, Abaculus III, Raw Terror, Triangulations, Shelter of Daylight and SQ Magazine. He has also been a finalist in the L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest and was the 2010 recipient of the CZP/Rannu Fund Award for fiction. His debut urban fantasy novel, THE SIXTH PRECEPT, is now available from IFWG Publishing, Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. He is a member of two local writing/critique groups, the Pittsburgh Southwrites and the Pittsburgh Worldrights, and lives in Coraopolis, PA with his wife Martha and cats Trixie and Milo.