As an adventurous archeologist, the character Owl in Kristi Charish’s novels Owl And The Japanese Circus and Owl And The City Of Angels has often been referred to as “Indiana Jane.” But in talking to Charish and the newest Owl adventure, Owl And The Electric Samurai (digital, audiobook), she revealed it was actually one of Doctor Jones’ video game progeny that inspired this third adventure novel.
I always like to start with the basics. So, basically, what is Owl And The Electric Samurai about, and how does it connect, both narratively and chronologically, with the previous books in this series, Owl And The Japanese Circus and Owl And The City Of Angels?
Owl And The Electric Samurai is the third book in the Adventures Of Owl, what I like to humbly think of as my ode to Indiana Jones. This time around we find Owl back in a hot spot with the IAA, International Archaeology Association, who are responsible for keeping the supernatural world under wraps. They are also responsible for ruining Owl’s once promising career as a budding archaeologist. This time around, they’re trying to muscle Owl into tracking down the designers of World Quest, the online RPG that Owl is a fan of. Not an easy task since they appeared to have disappeared into thin air. On top of that, Mr. Kurosawa, the Red Dragon who employs Owl to find him supernatural artifacts, has charged Owl with finding an ancient suit of magical armour, one that is a lot more than it seems.
Add to that a lot of globe-trotting, close calls, more than a few plot turns, and you’ve got an Owl adventure.
Where did the original idea for this installment come from, and how different is it from that original idea?
The original idea spark for the Owl And The Electric Samurai was a combination of the video game Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, where they search for Shangri-La, and from a vague idea when I originally created World Quest for Owl And The Japanese Circus, which was that I wanted to explore the game more if the series went further.
Owl And The Electric Samurai is the third book in the series. But is this an ongoing series, or do you have a limited number of books in mind? And why did you decide to make it whatever you decided to make it?
The proper answer to the question from the budding young author is almost always, “How many do you want?” Glibness aside, when I started writing Owl And The Japanese Circus, I had no illusions about my chances of getting it published. It’s hard out there for new authors, especially in urban fantasy. It wasn’t until it looked like Owl And The Japanese Circus might actually be published that I started worrying about sequels.
My answer still stands though: How many do you want? She’s got lots of adventure left in her.
So how much of the series do you have figured out?
There is at least one more book left — Owl & The Tiger Thieves has been written, handed in, and about to go through edits [and will be out September 25th] — and I’ve certainly got my fingers crossed for more.
You kind of already answered this, but I’ll ask anyway: Are there are non-literary influences on Owl And The Electric Samurai? Any movies, TV shows, games…
Definitely the Uncharted games. I make no secret of my love of RPGs, and I’d been playing them as I was writing the other books. What I loved about the series was the fast-paced Indiana Jones style, and the Shangri-La theme really was done so well I couldn’t resist being inspired when it came around to book three.
Speaking of games, Owl has often been called a modern-day Indiana Jane. Which is also what they call Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider games. But do you think Own and Lara are similar at all?
I think I have to toss in the disclaimer that I was in university while the original Tomb Raider games were coming out, so I am very familiar with the original. The thing with the original Tomb Raider is that she was a bit of a ’90s/’00s sex symbol. The larger than life breasts were a coding mistake, but one that stuck and influenced the character in future games. Though the series has evolved with the times. Lara is no longer being billed as the sex symbol and seductress [in such new games as Tomb Raider and Rise Of The Tomb Raider].
Interestingly, and as an aside, I think the new Lara doesn’t give off quite the same self-assured woman in charge vibe. Though that might have less to do with the sex symbol status than a general feeling of the times.
Anyway, Owl isn’t a sex symbol by any shot. Or not one that would be recognizable put up against the original Lara Croft. However, I think Owl shares a lot of similarities with the new Lara. They both are persistent, adventurous, and question themselves frequently. They also don’t have a pendulous bosom. The big differences have to do with the kinds of stories they star in. Whereas Lara tends to stumble into a trace of the supernatural, Owl is neck deep at all times. Also, Owl has a more reckless streak and tends way more towards mouthing off…at anyone.
So do you think someone who’s into the Tomb Raider games would enjoy reading these books?
I hope so. I think any fans of the games, iteration 1.0 or 2.0, would enjoy Owl as the adventure and archaeology aspect is there in droves.
Conversely, do you think these books could be made into video games? Or do you think this series would work better as a movie or TV show?
I think the way Owl is written that the novels would work better as movies. For TV, I think that the format would have to be shifted into more of a serial, monster of the week, format, at least for a while.
If it was going to be made into a movie, or a TV show, who would you like to see them cast as Owl? Bearing in mind that Alicia Vikander from Ex Machina and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is currently filming the new Tomb Raider movie, and is thus off the table.
One of my favourite games: Fantasy Casting.
Finally, if someone really has read and enjoyed Owl And The Japanese Circus, Owl And The City Of Angels, and Owl And The Electric Samurai, what would you suggest they read while waiting for Owl & The Tiger Thieves to come out?
I love anything with a comedy/adventure element, so I’d highly recommend Patrick Weekes’ The Prophecy Con series, which does comedy and D&D style adventure so well. He’s a writer at Bioware, and Owl was actually inspired by two projects he was involved in: the Mass Effect series and the Dragon Age games.
If sci-fi/fantasy isn’t what you’re craving, I’d take this moment to recommend two other authors: Ian Hamilton, author of the Ava Lee series, and Carl Hiaasen’s Skinny Dip. Ava Lee is a crime series about a Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant who finds money that’s gone missing in International and Asian business deals gone wrong. The crimes are fascinating and there’s more action than you’d expect from a novel about an accountant. Carl Hiaasen is a comedic genius, and his novel Skinny Dip is about a disgraced Florida detective who accidentally stumbles into a decade old murder investigation involving a debauched plastic surgeon and a Geraldo-style TV reality star who opens the whole can of worms in the first place.