With coffee in hand one recent morning, I was reviewing a list of common tropes found in fantasy and LGBT books. Shapeshifting, in particular, caught my eye. It’s a trope that has been around for as long as stories have been told, and I wondered if I would ever include characters with such an ability in my books.
Then the caffeine kicked in, and I remembered that an entire race of shapeshifting creatures known as the Yokai are featured in The Brass Machine series.
Yokai are a broad group of mythological creatures found in Japanese folklore. Like so many other cultural mythologies, they provide a basis from which other stories can be told. Kitsune, for example, are one of the more recognized types of yokai, and have been featured in television shows like The X-Files, Supernatural, and Teen Wolf.
Kitsune are my favorite of the yokai, evidenced by the fact that one of my main characters is named Prince Kitsune. A close second, though, is the yako. Not to be confused with Yakko from Animaniacs (though very much like him and his siblings Wakko and Dot), the yako are extremely mischievous and not to be trusted! While not necessarily malicious, a certain chaotic tendency does come naturally to them. These types of creatures and the personalities they entail make for intriguing characters!
Just as there was a Yokai hiding in plain sight in my first book, The King’s Sun, a yako is revealed in the second, The King’s Fear. I had so much fun developing a character who stood somewhere in between good and evil, right and wrong…someone who pushed for chaos while helping the main characters along their journey. The story included so many new faces, but he—or she—might be my favorite!