Jacqueline Woods Interviews Corinne Morier, an accomplished young lady who not only took time to work with the survivors of The Great East Japanese Earthquake, but writes work inspired from her experiences as well as fantasy.
You have told me that your early work was inspired by Tolkien, and that you write fantasy. What is so inspiring about that genre for you, and what drives you to write?
I think what is most inspiring about fantasy is that you can do anything you want – you can create a world all your own with whatever rules you want that isn’t bound by the rules of common sense and logic. There are no boundaries to what can happen. It’s hard to describe why exactly you like something, but I guess you could say that since I’m a very logical, practical-minded person in most cases, writing fantasy allows me to have a break from my usual logical processes and spread the wings of my imagination.
You mentioned that you are a fantasy purist, as am I. How does this affect and work itself into your writing?
Well, I make a clear distinction between fantasy and science fiction – with fantasy, you can just say “Here be dragons” and as long as dragons are a possibility within the world you’ve created, you don’t have to explain how or why they exist. But in science fiction, you’d have to come up with a reason why dragons exist in the first place, such as they evolved from dinosaurs or they mutated from eagles or something. I can think of one specific example of this making its way into my writing, which is when I started working on my rewrite of The Little Mermaid. At first, I was trying to think of how to explain the existence of mermaids in that they would have evolved from one of our prehistoric ancestors, but I was having a hard time writing that into the story. Then I realized that I wasn’t writing science fiction, I was writing fantasy. So I just said “Here be mermaids,” and wrote a world in which mermaids could potentially exist instead of trying to explain how they could exist in reality.
What kind of characters do you tend to write about, and what kind of life do you breathe into them?
Well, let’s just say that I kind of hope my parents never read my writing. I have a great relationship with my parents, but as it turns out, many of my characters are either orphans or have strained relationships with their parents. If you look at the protagonists of all my current and future works, I have an Elf girl who spends the entire book hating her mother, an orphaned Elf prince, a girl who lost her mother at a young age and who is estranged from her father, a girl who lost her mother at a young age and has a strained relationship with her father, an orphan, and another orphan. So if my parents were to ever read my books, they might misunderstand and interpret my characters’ relationships with their parents as reflecting my interpretation of our relationship, which isn’t true at all.
Please tell us about your academic achievements, and work with the survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake?
I attended San Francisco State University (go Gators!) and majored in Japanese. About halfway through the Spring 2014 semester, my Japanese professor announced an initiative to go to Fukushima during the summer to interview the survivors of the earthquake three years ago, and that three slots were open to Japanese majors and three to Journalism majors. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity. The program was run by Jon Funabiki, a professor of Journalism at SFSU, who wanted to somehow combine his Japanese-American heritage with his journalism work, and got a grant from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation to take six students to Fukushima.
I ended up being the only Japanese major to apply; the other five students were all majoring in journalism. We were all expected to produce our own stories, and while I did produce some stories myself, I felt like I had produced far less than my peers, and I wanted to do more, especially since I have an extensive background in creative writing. So I decided to write a novel based on our trip, which prompted my current WIP.
What are your future goals as a writer?
Right now, I want to write books that are entertaining and make people think. For example, the book I’m currently writing is about the people of Tohoku in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake, and I started writing it in order to bring more attention to the issues the people of that area face. But I wanted to write a book about them that would also be entertaining to read, which is why I wrote a fictionalized account of a girl who goes to Japan to study abroad rather than a nonfiction informational book. I want to write books that stay in my readers’ heads long after they turn the last page.
So, what are you currently working on? Tell us about that?
The novel I’m writing at the moment is a story about a girl from America who goes to Japan to study abroad and gets involved in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake. It stemmed from two separate incidents. The first is that while I was studying Japanese in college, I got an idea one day to write a book about a girl who goes to Japan to study abroad. I jotted down some ideas for some key scenes but nothing ever happened with it. Then, the summer before my last semester, I went to Japan as part of the Facing Fukushima project to hear the stories of the survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake. My peers in that project were all studying journalism, so they all produced something like a dozen stories each, and I felt bad because I had only managed six or so accounts of survivors’ stories. So I decided to use my creative writing background and write a book about the people we met. On the plane ride back home, I was mulling it over in my head about what sort of book I should write, until I hit upon the idea to combine that with my book about a girl who goes to Japan to study abroad. It was especially important for me to write this book now because we’re approaching the fifth anniversary of the disaster, and the professor in charge of that project has asked us to make a presentation to his class about our experience, so I wanted to have at least a first draft finished before we visit his class.
How has living in San Francisco’s Bay Area influenced your writing, as all writers pull from their environment?
The most obvious way is in a novel that I have yet to publish – it’s a modern-day retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, and it’s set in San Francisco. Being quite familiar with the city, I was able to put a lot of detail in terms of setting into the novel. In addition, since San Francisco is right next to the ocean, it was the perfect setting for a story about mermaids.
It’s less obvious in other novels I’ve written. In The Crown and the Mage, the only noticeable way my hometown has affected my writing is that the setting itself is a reflection of where I live – the Humans, who are the antagonists in the book, live in the westernmost region of Vellar, and they are separated from the Elves by a “sea” of dead land known as the Mriné. Here in the Bay Area, the San Francisco Bay is a sort of divider for Oakland and San Francisco – San Francisco to the west of the bay, Oakland to the east. So the mentality of “east is better” sort of worked its way subconsciously into my story. (Sorry, San Francisco, but I’ll always be an Oakland girl at heart!)
Where can readers snag a copy of The Crown and The Mage?
Readers can download my book on either the Amazon Kindle:
In addition, I would also like to take this opportunity to direct interested parties to the Facing Fukushima website at
where we have posted photos, videos, and stories from our trip, if anyone would like to learn more about it.
Corinne Morier is a self-published fantasy author with a penchant for writing stories that make readers feel. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her watching anime or cracking open a good book. Follow her on Twitter at @cmauthor to stay updated on her books!