The Juniper’s Tree Trilogy Has Come to an End︱The Journey of Writing a Full-Length Series

Thank You to the Readers

Thank you! Everyone who purchased and took the time to read my book. I am really thankful for those who took the time to leave me feedback and reviews, too. 🙏 Thank you again, I am eternally grateful to you all. It brings tears to my eyes, to know that people actually enjoy a story that I put my whole heart and soul into writing.

If any of you are interested and want to read a three-part series, the last novel will be free-to-read on January 18, 2021. If you want to catch up, here’s the link to my Fiction Press account: https://www.fictionpress.com/u/1143214/

Thank you again to those who read and pre-ordered the novel.

Special Q&A

⚠️ These are spoiler-free answers, if you haven’t read my books, yet — I hint at some things, but that’s about it ⚠️

Q: How do you come up with names for your characters?

A: It was a culmination of spiritual intuition, some of them were personal choices, and others were just puns. Like “Alise” (“a lease”) — you’ll get the cruel innuendo after you read the first book. “Warren Graves” is an anagram, props to those who have figured it out. The name “George” means martyr. And “Juniper” is a reference to the “juniper tree” in the Bible, she’s a protector… to the best of her ability, she tries to be. In my new series (“Suffer, My Desire”), the name Monét Blanchard literally means white money — I hope that giving that away doesn’t provide you with too much of a red herring. But, her subplot gets pretty crazy, so I doubt revealing that alone will lead to any meaningful predictions about her character.

Q: What songs remind you of each book in the series, and why?

A: I’m probably going to sound like a huge nerd for saying this, but for the first book (“Apotheosis”) — I was listening to “Forever Lost” (MYTH & ROID), “Goodbye Happiness” (Hikaru Utada), and “The Spaniards” (William Patrick Corgan). During the second novel (“Lovers”) — the bad guys are these crazy, plasticine television personalities… they both have dual sides to them, and yet, the two of them happen to be the perfect couple (so, in their insanity, they both understand each other, like Bonnie and Clyde). I was listening to a lot of Avenged Sevenfold during the production of that book, particularly “Afterlife” and “Roman Sky” — I was also listening to “Paint It Black” by The Rolling Stones, too, the single reminded me of Warren Graves as a character, so it kind of extended into the third book as well. “Endeavor” (Shaylee and Florence McNair) reminded me of Elizabeth Gardner’s struggle to accept her destiny, as well as Juniper Jamison’s stalwart determination, and “Sweet Lies” (Kanako Itō) reminded me of the Ashton Williams character. In the third book (“Nothing in the World”) —  I was listening to Hikaru Utada’s Hatsukoi album a lot during the second and third books, so “Yūnagi” bilaterally bridged the conclusion to the story, it became an accidental anthem for the inevitably bittersweet ending. The main song that reminded me of Nephthys during her remembrance of the past were “Static” and “Every Other Ghost” (Mili), I have been really obsessed with the Millennium Mother album for years, so Mili has been a big influence on certain creative aesthetics that I like.

Q: Writing rituals?

A: I just write what comes to mind. I don’t write notes, because keeping them around is confusing, if I get a great idea — I just outline the premise and then write down everything I can remember. If an idea is lost, it means that it wasn’t worth keeping. Good ideas are the ones you obsess over. I knew that I should start writing this series, when I started becoming more engrossed with my original characters than some of my favorite fictional characters of years past.

Q: How do you make the covers for your books?

A: They are just photographs. The cover for the first series is a picture that @SakihataLily took during a beautiful day. I decided to use it, after asking for their permission, because just looking at the scenery gave me a sense of emotional catharsis. The spin-off series cover was a picture that I, myself, took. I was stuck in traffic on a highway road and this vehicle’s engine just exploded and there were plumes of smoke rising up, I thought that I would use it for something someday. I’m not a very good artist, the only things that I’ve ever been told that I’m extremely good at is writing and singing, so I just took the indie route. I hope to start a fundraising page, after I code a BETA version of the visual novel that I’m working on… I would love to see my characters come to life, with the help of a talented artist.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for the 真柏Project universe?

Note: The characters in 真柏Project, mean “jun • ni • pa”

A: It’s weird, last March, I was at a very low point in my life. Some very bad things happened, followed by indecent behavior from people I though were nice, normal people — not only did the betrayal occur, but I witnessed very heinous crimes that shook me and made it so that I could never see sex-trafficking adverts, without feeling sick to my stomach. Not only that, but a cruel display from people who are so wealthy, that they frequently get away with murder. I began questioning whether Biblical “goodness” was something deemed beneath people of a certain status. It was a full-blown crisis. And so, I was forced to question my immediate reality, so it was weird. One morning, I just woke up and the entire trilogy was written in my head. All three books. It was like God had handed me the blueprint, answers to my concurrent anguish, and I just ran with it. Some of the plot points and characters were archetypes that I had experimented with before, but… in that one day, I suddenly knew exactly what I wanted to make the story about.

Q: What techniques do you use while writing your characters?

A: I have always been more of an introvert, so sometimes I just mimic how I’ve seen average people interact with one another. I also employ the use of the “Kinoko Nasu” approach and transform my ordinary characters into legendary beacons of light (or darkness). I often like to show how an extraordinary an average person can become, with the power of sheer will and an indomitable human spirit.

Q: What already fictional world would you compare you story to?

A: I originally got the idea got the idea for the underpass from an area that exists in a Colorado Mountain range — a mysterious, guarded tunnel. It sparked my creativity, I think the idea of wise elders came from my fixation of the 東方Project franchise. I would say that the rest was a culmination of the thousands of media productions that I’ve consumed over the years. When I originally proposed the original idea, seven or eight years ago, a friend told me that it reminded him of “Pan’s Labyrinth” — I still haven’t watched that film, but the twin (“doppelgänger”) motif came from the South Korean, psychological horror film: “A Tale of Two Sisters” (2003) and Luna’s conception was partially formed from the egg motif in “Kara no Shōjo” and somewhat due to Winslow Leach’s bizarre helmet-mask in “Phantom of the Paradise” (1974).

Sneak-Peak into “Suffer, My Desire”

I decided to just preview the new main character (“Aria Adler”) VS the old (“Juniper Jamison”), in this segment. Juniper is a fiery, force-of-nature but Aria is much more subdued and apprehensive, she’s more pragmatic in that sense. Juniper would blindly punch her way out of the enclosure of a cube, whereas, Aria would contemplate the dimensions of the object, before attempting to escape. Aria is a realist and has to carry the burden of re-living the memories of both the dead and living, through anamnesis. She attempts to live a humble and modest life, and dissects mysteries and crimes for the betterment of those around her. Her biggest flaw is that she puts others before herself and smolders in the confinement of her own thoughts, she has a difficult time asking others for help. Whereas, Juniper’s two major flaws were a) her impulsivity (which also saves her, in many instances) and b) her tendency to want to run away from hard truths, especially, if they involved her past or self-actualization. Juniper Jamison is a reckless savior and Aria Adler is a problem-solving, savant. 

Goals for the Week: November 28, 2021

After drawing Taylor Swift as Devola & Popola (NieR Replicant)… I fell ill with flu symptoms and a fever. I don’t think it’s anything too serious, just a seasonal sickness. But because of it, I had to delay my design-work a little bit. So, below is a preview of the upcoming Nephthys design… I haven’t finished with shading and final touches, but this is the base sketch for the forward-facing pose!

I’ll see you all again next Tuesday, I hope that my strength is somewhat replenished by then! 😷

Goals for the Week: November 21, 2021 (toddler steps)

I didn’t finish either of my goals last week, sometimes grief finds a way of trickling in when you least expect it to… nonetheless, starting today, I have made a little bit of progress: I filled up my Buffer queue again; I hope that will help regain a sense of what was lost. I had deleted everything off of my normal posting slots after my dad’s death, but I started filling it in today, so… (to anyone following me on Twitter) you will start seeing my daily posts again!

I have decided to make character sheets before publishing the PV. Since the PV will be representative of the visual novel as a whole, I think it would be better to have designs done of the main quintet (Juniper, Nephthys, Śakra, Elizabeth, and Ashton), at the very least! I want to start a Kickstarter soon so, the more of the basics I have down, the better I can represent my proposal for the project… and after making the PV, I will start looking at rates for landscape artists/musicians/etc. on Skeb, so I can have an accurate estimate of how much everything will cost.

Not to mention that creating designs will give me a better idea for the character shots that can be used for the opening. Random pictures of the characters are cool and all, but designing Juniper from front-to-back helped give me a rubric for future designs (if that makes sense). It’s hard work, but it’s better to lay out a house before you build it.

Old Goals:

❌ Finish Art for the PV

The bright side of this is that, through my grief, I have been writing a lot more. So, the outlines for the next five books that I write are fuller than they were before.

❌ Read 3 Books

I have been reading “What about the Baby?: Some Thoughts on the Art of Fiction” (Alice McDermott) and it has given me some useful writing advice. @SakihataLily picked it out for me the last time we were at the bookstore and I am really grateful to him for that!

New Goals:

☑️ Finish Character Sheets for Nephthys and Śakra

☑️ Read 3 Books

I think I have evolved from baby steps to toddler steps this week, so let’s see what will become of that slow progression forward! See you next Tuesday! Thank you so much for the support!

Bonus: This is something I wanted to try in the future. If you have suggestions for characters that you would like for me to draw, feel free to leave your ideas in the comment section!

Character Design Sheet – Juniper Jamison

I made my first character design sheet! This is a great advancement in the visual novel project because I can just edit the raw .PNG images of Juniper into the game now! It took a lot of work and the action pose was tricky to illustrate, but I think all of the hard work paid off… before I do the PV – I am going to create sheets for Nephthys, Śakra, Elizabeth, and Ashton (since they are other primary characters in the first series).

Note: The face on the bottom right is of Juniper after the epilogue and in the Aria Adler series. I made them have a more masculine jawline and the eyes are inherited from the lunar deity (Luna). Also, I think all of the designs for Juniper’s Tree will be coded in lime-green and the Aria Adler series will be coded in lilac-purple.

Goals for the Week: November 14, 2021 (small steps)

New Goals

☑️ Finish Art for the PV

I just need to re-draw the old characters in with Sketchbook and then draw one or two landscapes. I know this has been taking forever, but I hope to finish it for sure this week. The next court date is not until January and since my father wanted a military burial, his funeral service will also be at the start of 2022. I can’t think of much else I have to worry about until then, so I should be able to get in the groove of things again.

☑️ Read 3 Books

Reading helps me a lot when I am stressed and can’t sleep well… which was most of last week. I think indulging in this hobby can help me with compartmentalizing the fears and doubts I have that keep me awake, books are the best at personal catharsis sometimes. I have been struggling with psychosomatic pains as well, particularly migraines and cold sweats. 2021 has been a really bad year, so I just have to be mindful and take care of myself. Baby steps!

Those are the only goals I have for now, I may do more depending on where I am mentally, but I think it is wise to take it slow until next week. See you again next Tuesday!

Yūsha de Aru Fan Art

I have decided to work on a Yūsha de Aru ancestor series, where I match each of the Yūki Yūna crew up with their Nogi Wakaba arc equivalent. I am going to hopefully be returning to my original series tomorrow, so I will just work on the fan art project if there is free time to do so. The first entry is Fū Inubōzaki and Tamako Doi. I experimented a little bit with the shading and made the outline a softer hue.

Partial-Return and Rozen Maiden Fan Art

Doodling has helped me stay sane since my last blog post – for the time being, I am temporarily returing to my roots and drawing fan art. This is a picture from Rozen Maiden: Träumend. The second season, the best in my opinion, is more existential in its denouement – it discusses God and mortality from within the realm of sentient dolls; and whether or not artificial creation is any different than the birth of a human life. Because of my internal struggles with my Dad, I kept reflecting on that series.

I should return to my normal schedule on Tuesday… I think I’ll be drawing other anime characters until then. I watched the new Nogi Wakaba wa Yūsha de Aru PV (from the Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru series) and I cried a couple of times during it. I think I may do a fan art to commemorate the announcement of the anime adaptation… was thinking of illustrating Anzu and Tamako but I love all of the characters in that arc, so it is difficult to choose.

I appreciate all of the kind comments that I have received this past week. I’m at a loss of words for what to say. Thank you all.

真柏Project Promo – Anima

This is an artistic rendering of the creepiest creature from Juniper’s Tree. Child of Artemis, it is known only as the Shapeshifter – as it is a nameless and soulless being that acts purely on instinct, luring its prey in with its beauty and then devouring them to wear their corpses to use as their new vessel. It can unhinge its jaw like a snake and has many rows of sharp, pointy teeth. I was thinking of the designs in Kyōko Okazaki’s Helter Skelter while I designed this monster; good manga but not for the faint of heart or for those that are bothered by lurid content (also was listening to the audiobook version of C.G. Jung’s The Red Book, a review will come with my next book block). Helter Skelter has a Dale Cooper (Twin Peaks) look-a-like, too – and Moyoco Anno came in to illustrate the final chapter of the series (due to an accident that Ms. Okazaki was in).

真柏Project PV – coming soon

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