Last week I had an amazing opportunity! An English Lit class taught at Arizona State University had read Big in Japan as part of their curriculum, and the professor, Lynette Austin, invited me to come and give a little writing workshop and talk to the students. HOW AMAZING! Honestly, as a writer of Cotton Candy for the Soul, I never imagined a chance like this on a university level.
First, I gave a workshop on using archetypes to help readers connect with characters. The students were quite adept at pointing out archetypes in great fiction and movies, and that was fun to hear how quickly they warmed to the topic. They were great.
Then, the professor had them give responses to BIG IN JAPAN, what they’d written in their papers after having read the book. Some wrote about the archetypes present in the story. Others wrote about the culture. One girl talked about Buck Cooper as “Other” — first as “exotic other,” and then as “demonic other” for his counterparts in the book. Fascinating. Frankly, it’s been a long, long time since I was doing literary analysis, so it blew my mind. I was just nodding and going, “Whoa.” Probably looked like a dork. But in another way, it was so cool! Was all that really in a book I wrote? Yes, I did write some of it in there on purpose, and it’s definitely a book I put enormous effort into, but the responses were so amazing to me.
I want to thank the students for reading BIG IN JAPAN, and I want to thank Lynette for choosing it as her curriculum and for inviting me to be part of her class. It was one of the coolest days I’ve spent as a writer.
Domo arigato! (Now you’re filling in the blanks with “Mr. Roboto.” Sorry.)