Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Beautiful Dead by Jun Prince

The Beautiful Dead:  A Tale of K-Pop, Ghosts,
and Nine-Tailed Fox Women
Jun Prince

Genre:  Urban Fantasy/Paranormal

Publisher: Apollo and Nyx Publishing

Date of Publication:   September 22, 2017

ISBN:   978-0999491300

Number of pages:  346 (Print)

Word Count:  97k Words

Cover Artist:  Damonza

A lonely Korean pop star learns her high school classmate died five years ago. So why are they still texting?

Book Description:

Yubin knows she’s different than the other girls in the pop group SIITY. Yes, they all got sucked into the same machine, giving up schooling and signing ridiculously long contracts before anyone knew if they'd be successful, but that's how pop stars are made in Korea. Yubin is supposed to be thankful for that, but she isn't. She doesn't even like the girls she performs with. 

She’s more connected to her former schoolmate Jieun, even though all they ever do is text. Over the last two months, Jieun has become her confidant and best friend, connecting Yubin to the real world in a way she desperately needs. Now that SIITY is going to appear on the reality show The Incredible Race: Asia, Yubin will need that connection more than ever, which is why she’s devastated to discover Jieun has been dead five years and is actually haunting her. 

If that weren’t enough, Yubin’s not the only SIITY member with issues. Rena’s father is emotionally abusive. Somi has a learning disability, and after a near death experience, Tae-eun becomes a nine-tailed fox woman. The only way they’ll survive the show, each other, and the supernatural currents buffeting them is to work together and win the hearts of their fans. Because if they don’t, they have nothing to go back to even if they survive what's trying to kill them.  

4 (542 Words):


She was still
unaccustomed to spirit combat, but a small tempest swirled in the underworld
around her. Humans too felt the wind she created, their muscles tightened, and
more than a few quickened their pace to evade the chill. Scraps of litter
spiraled over real world concrete, and whips of black hair whirled in an angry
nimbus around Jieun’s face.
The shadowman
looked up. She'd expected empty pits of darkness where eyes should have been, but
when the creature ceased feeding, a set of all too human brown eyes that now
lacked eyelids appeared in the monster’s head. They contrasted with the rest of
its body in that while the majority of the creature lurked in shadow that was
darker than everything else in the Dead World, these two spheres burned as if
absorbing all the spirit light that should have detailed the shadowman’s body.
The flow of spirit energy that connected its ugly mouth to the girl stopped,
and the ghost realized that she held the creature’s attention.
The shade of an
eerily human face like black paint on even blacker canvas contorted in what
could have just as easily been taken for triumph or rage. It unleashed an
otherworldly snarl that was anything but human and charged Jieun. Though it had
a man's body, it rushed in an inhuman lope on all fours that seemed more like
an animal. Jieun darted out of the way—it wasn’t a conscious thing, and the
instinct may well have saved her dead life. If she hadn’t known before, alarm
she felt made her certain; ghosts could die a second death.
She whirled
after the attack expecting the shadowman behind her but it had vanished. She
sighed in relief. Then, without warning she saw the black shape leap from the
roof of a magazine stand just outside the subway station. She cried out in
alarm, and before its feet had touched the ground its giant mouth fastened on
her shoulder. The weight of the attack forced her to the ground, and in a
moment of dawning horror she realized it was impossible to escape.
She shrieked.
The pain was beyond anything she imagined possible for a spirit to experience.
It wasn’t like trailing her fingers through the wall, or even passing
completely through a physical object. Those pains were an affirmation of life,
cold shocks that, while not comfortable, served as a reminder that she was
still in some sense alive. The feeling of her spirit body being torn apart by
the shadowman’s teeth seemed as if the devil had run away with God’s scalpel
and used it to peel thick ribbons of her soul away from creation.
Though the
shadowman looked like and had similar features to a man, it made low growls
that were far distant from human speech. It wasn’t a language at all – if it
had been she’d have instinctually understood it. It shook its head like a
starved wolf and further tore into the fabric of firelines that composed her
spirit body. Its breath smelled of rotten flesh, and she could hear the pulse
of bestial rhythmic snorting in her ears. She needed a weapon. She didn’t have
one. This was it. Jieun would die… this time for real.

About the Author:

Jun has lived in Asia for the better part of the last decade. During his years in Korea, he made a point of learning about and getting as close to the Korean entertainment industry as possible while writing his first novel "The Beautiful Dead." He enjoys telling stories about monstrous humans and humanized monsters.

He has a MFA from the University of California - Riverside, graduated with a BA in English Cum Laude from the University of Washington - Seattle, and attended Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea as an exchange student.

Interview with  Jun Prince

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

I've always been into ghosts, monsters, and supernatural worlds that are much like our own. In the case of The Beautiful Dead I was also really into K-Pop while studying at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, and tried to bring the two together.

The spark hit after class. It was cold out, so I tucked my head into large headphones that doubled as ear muffs for the 20-30 minute walk home.   I listened to "News" by Nine Muses and slipped into an awesome and intense daydream about a Korean pop star being possessed by a ghost during a photo shoot.  

There was something there. I saw faces, situations, and characters I'd never written before.   I put that bad boy on repeat for over an hour and the daydream became more complex with each repetition.  Before long, I had every thing I needed to write the short story that had been assigned in class.  That story became the foundation of my novel. It's since been revised countless times, and is now the photo-shoot possession scene in the final version of The Beautiful Dead.

YouTube Link:  News by Nine Muses

How did you do research for your book?

I'm not a Korean pop star, but rather than just imagining what life must be life for idols, I made an effort to get as close to the Korean entertainment industry as possible.  One awesome thing about Korea is that celebrities are far more accessible than in the USA. I remember on the plane to Seoul I thought "One of my goals is to meet Hyomin (T-ara) in person while I'm here." Literally within the first few days of arrival I'd met her, the rest of T-Ara, and 2PM.  I thought "Well shit, I'm going to have to set less achievable goals."

I started going to TV studios to watch the recordings of TV music shows several times a week.  After a while, people began recognizing me as that one foreigner always hanging around the TV stations.  I got to meet a lot of popular singers and groups during this time.  

One day I was treated to an over 8 hour behind the scenes tour at KBS where I was able to watch band after band get ready for their studio recordings.  It was amazing. During promo events I paid close attention to the demeanors of the stars—did they seem happy? Tired? Burdened?  Did their attitudes change as soon as the cameras started rolling?  This was all useful information.  I got to see what they typically ate for lunch. Some talked off the record about their lives in dorms owned by their record companies, and I was shocked by the lack of privacy.  One time, I was present for the filming of a TV drama.  Each event gave me a little more experience to draw on.

Later, I was asked if I'd like to appear on a Korean cooking show, Olive Show, as a guest.  I accepted in a heartbeat.  If I didn't have experiences of my own to draw on, I made them. Writing started to feel a lot like method acting, as I actively sought to put myself in situations that my characters found themselves in.  In this case, sitting in a TV studio and being filmed for television.  It was method writing.

Aside from that, several years of living in Korea was great for understanding the non-supernatural setting because I was surrounded by the world I was writing.  Living in there  as a foreigner allowed me to take note of everyday things that were different from living at home.  For example, I had two different Korean friends that would take their fried chicken off the bone and pull it apart with two forks on a plate when we went out.  I'd never seen anyone do this, so I took a mental snapshot and included it in my novel.

Do you have another profession besides writing?

I've been a literature teacher in the past, and I have a day job, but it's not exactly what I'd call a profession because it's not my passion. My ultimate goal is to make enough money writing that I can do it full time.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

Assuming this is a one way trip, I'd go back to the 90s and experience them with the freedom that comes with not being a middle or high school student. I'd go to see all my favorite bands from that era in concert, and visit places like Seoul so that I can have a proper appreciation for how places like it have exploded in the last few decades.

Assuming I can't bring anything with me, I'd study major sporting events before leaving to generate start up cash with bets, buy the right stocks, start mining bitcoins in 2009, and live off that income. I'd still write because I love it, but it'd be nice not to have to worry about paying the bills while doing it.

What is your next project?

I'm almost finished with my second book, Grey, which explores alien abduction in the Pacific Northwest.  It's a very different novel from The Beautiful Dead.  

After that I'm torn between either trying my hand at a LitRPG, or diving into a series of character specific novellas focusing on individual protagonists from my first book.  Eventually there will be a full length sequel to The Beautiful Dead where all the characters are working together as a group.

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