What anime/manga/light novel inspired your short story?
You'd think that the obvious answer would be Demon Slayer, but it surprisingly wasn't. To be honest, though, it's hard to pinpoint one exact source material that inspired the story. I went for a general anime feel, but I suppose Attack on Titan and Chainsaw Man might be two of the stronger inspirations. Elements like traitors who were trusted friends (like in AoT) or going out on demon killing missions (like CSM) highlight that fact.
What was your process like for writing this story? Did you have a specific idea for the ending or a theme you wanted to write around?
It was a bit of a different process since Katsuo and Chihiro are characters I was going to include in a different anime-inspired story, Death Under Maddison Bridge (which I will get around to one day). In it, I pictured the twins as these badasses who would make killing demons look like child's play, much like Levi in AoT. The question I had was, "What's their origin? How'd they get here?" So that was the question behind A Curse Unseen. I set out to discover where they came from, what their normal life looked like, how it shattered, and how they are the way they are now.
What was your favorite part about writing this story? Was there anything challenging about it?
I think my favorite part was just being able to explore the main characters. I had some basic designs in my head for them that I was able to flesh out, but I wanted to give them free rein. It sounds weird to some people who aren't authors, but truly, the characters we create can have minds of their own. So I essentially set up a scenario and asked myself, "How will they react in this situation?" And I'm very happy with the way it unfolded.
The most challenging part, aside from settling on a time period, was actually the characters themselves. The last thing I wanted was for them to become uninteresting or stereotypical for readers. Obviously there are certain roles that readers will mentally categorize them in, or they'll compare the twins to different anime or manga characters. I just didn't want them to be copycats of anyone else—they needed to be intriguing in their own right. So I hope that came through in the final product!
Do you have a favorite sentence or quote or paragraph from the story?
It's really hard to pick just one favorite... but here's one of Chihiro's best lines, in my opinion (with a spoiler removed):
"You know, in my lifetime I've killed hundreds of demons. Never did I wonder if they'd once been people who had loved ones and normal lives. I simply did my duty and snuffed them out." She rushed forward, using her naginata to vault into the air. "What difference does it make if I add a few more to the tally?"
Can you tell us about one character in the story? Any insights into who they are as a character that we didn’t get to see in the story?
Chihiro is my personal favorite character in the story, which definitely has nothing to do with her being a muscular-yet-graceful lady. I'm personally a big fan of female characters who demonstrate both strength and vulnerability. Too often they seem to slide into one category or the other, but when they're both and they're done right, they have a high potential of being appreciated by yours truly. I tried to capture that essence with Chihiro. I would've liked to write more about their daily lives at the monastery. I feel as though Chihiro would be the kind of person who would be helping out with as much of the work as possible. Whether that'd be chopping up vegetables in the kitchen, cleaning up the grounds after a bad storm, or helping rebuild a village that'd suffered from a fire—if she can do it, she will.
Can you briefly share about your other works? Where can people find you if they want to read more?
My main writing project right now is a pirate adventure novel called Maelstrom. It's about a crew of treasure hunters who choose between pursuing the most precious diamond in the empire and saving their home from a supernatural storm that threatens to heap destruction upon it. No matter their decision, the consequences will have long-lasting and personal effects. This is definitely a story I'm very passionate about, so if you want to hear more, you can check out my blog (
Your story features a strong sibling duo. What was the inspiration behind these two characters?
I'm a big fan of sibling relationships in stories. I was fortunate enough to be raised in a home where my sisters became some of my best friends. I find that a lot of times in books or movies, siblings are often portrayed as barely standing each other, or always being at each other's throats. So I want to change that perception through some of my characters. Making them twins adds another level to it. Twins seem to have a very intriguing and personal connection, such as one feeling what the other is experiencing emotionally. And it made me wonder, how would that be affected when both characters have powers? That concept was a driving factor in making them twins in the first place, rather than just siblings.
The magic featured in your story is linked to certain elements. If you were a wield of one element, what would it be and why would you choose it?
Honestly, I'd probably go for air as my element, and I'd use it for simple conveniences. For example, when you're trying to sleep on a summer night with your window open because no one wants the AC on, and you're awake because you're hot and there's no airflow... what're you supposed to do? Well, I could just use my air ability to bring a fresh, cool breeze in, and I'd be content. And if I mastered it enough, I might even be able to use it for flying and whatnot. Seems like it'd be some pretty handy magic to have.
Warrior monks are a prominent character in your story. Where did you first learn of them and what about them first captivated you?
I'm actually not too sure of where I first discovered the concept of warrior monks. It might've been Avatar: The Last Airbender, as the show kind of toyed with the idea? Whatever the case, when the idea came to me while planning my story, I was like, "There had to have been real warrior monks, right?" And sure enough, there were! I think what made me intrigued with the concept is the people themselves. They might desire tranquil and quiet lives like normal monks, but they aren't pacifists. They're willing to pick up arms and defend their peace. I think that's a quality that I not only find fascinating, but also one I respect.
The end of the story foreshadows Katsuo's inner change. For those of us invested in the story, any hints on what path our hero would take if the story were to be continued?
He's definitely not the same man as he was in the beginning. I think the events of the story and where we leave him, both figuratively and literally, are going to have a profound impact on him. Gone is his trusting spirit, and what replaces it is a cold determination to do what needs to be done. So when he meets Makoto in Death Under Maddison Bridge, it's going to result in some very interesting interactions. And who knows? He might be in for a whole other world of pain. But that's all I can say.