Wake From Death and Return to Life by Andrez Bergen

Andrez Bergen4
It’s always a pleasure to welcome Andrez Bergen back to the blog. Andrez is one of my all-time favorite authors, and someone who I believe consistently produces some of the most creative, complex, and challenging fiction around. He’s also a machine when it comes to producing said fiction, so much so it’s hard to keep up with the guy. His latest, Black Sails, Disco Inferno, co-authored with Renee Asher Pickup, is out now and he’s here to talk about an old friend who makes an appearance in it.

Andrez BergenWake 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…

Andrez BergenWhile 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.

Andrez Bergen is an expatriate Australian journalist, musician, photographer, DJ, artist, some-time filmmaker, wayward graphic designer, and ad hoc beer and sake connoisseur who’s been entrenched in Tokyo, Japan, for over a decade. Under the alias of Industrial Form, he dabbled with graf, then moved on to audio/visual art installations for events put on by pioneering Melbourne experimental electronic music label IF? Records (which he now helms). He currently creates music under the pseudonyms Little Nobody and Funk Gadget. Bergen has also worked as a journalist over the past 17 years for newspapers such as The Age in Australia and the Yomiuri Shimbun in Japan, and he’s written for magazines as diverse as Mixmag, Geek Monthly, Impact and Anime Insider. To learn more about Andrez, visit his website.


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