Wake From Death and Return to Life
Ever had a character you’ve channeled that it hurt to let go? Once I finished writing One Hundred Years of Vicissitude in 2012, that was how I felt about Kohana, one half of identical twin geisha born on the first day of the Great Depression in 1929. I pulled an all-nighter to complete copy-editing, sent the finished thing to my publishers Perfect Edge Books, lay down – and dreamed about the woman.
She’s been hovering (on precarious geta clogs) in the peripheral ever since.
I’ve had other characters that mean a great deal to me, like Floyd from Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, Mitzi (Bullet Gal), Jacob/Jack in Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?, and most recently Trista’s role in Black Sails, Disco Inferno – the new book I did with fellow writer Renee Asher Pickup.
Yet Kohana remains some kind of personal enigma, a representation of so many concepts, with human dreams, strengths, and failings all the same.
There’s a famous saying in Japan, 見ぬが花 (minu ga hana), which translates literally as “Not seeing is a flower.” Reading between the lines here? Reality cannot compete with the imagination. This is so damned true for Kohana. And yet…
While her “co-star” in Vicissitude, Wolram E. Deaps, got to feature in two novels (Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat as well), Kohana has only since reappeared in a non-speaking role in a comic short I did with artist Marcos Vergara for the anthology The Tobacco-Stained Sky. Not that she has been thoroughly out of mind over the past four years.
There’s a story I’ve had on the back burner concerning the woman’s lost years (the 1950s), which she brushed over in Vicissitude. It’s a noir/crime type thing, with Kohana filling in as amateur sleuth, and I swear that one day I’ll write the book. But with the novelization of my comic series Trista & Holt as Black Sails, Disco Inferno (just published through Open Books), I was able to expand and induct more characters.
Given that it’s set in the 1970s and our co-protagonist Trista relates a trip to Japan earlier on in that decade, this meant age-wise Kohana would have been around 42. In Vicissitude that was the time she hung with my doppelganger for actor Takashi Shimura (Seven Samurai), just after getting herself stabbed by a leader of the United Red Army. So, both Shimura and the injury could also enter the stew.
Kohana’s walk-on in the pages of Black Sails, Disco Inferno is barely more than a cameo, but she makes an impact all the same. Trista suspects a romantic dalliance between the woman and her minder, Governal. “What about Kohana?” the fourteen-year-old asks him directly. “Do you love her? I would.” At which Governal smiles wistfully. “We’ve had our moments.”
Yeah, we have.
It’s great to see her back.