Last year, when I featured the first in this series, Momo Arashima Steals the Sword of the Wind, I was already looking forward to the sequel. I’m excited to report that MOMO ARASHIMA BREAKS THE MIRROR OF THE SUN has an expected publication date of February 27, 2024. I sent Misa Sugiura some follow-up interview questions, and you can also view the previous features of her books It’s Not Like It’s A Secret and Love & Other Disasters.
After vanquishing a demon king, saving her mom, and reconnecting with her friend Danny, Momo ought to be living the life she’s always wanted. But lately, Danny has been ditching her to hang out with mean-girl Ryleigh—and groups of kids have begun vanishing without a trace. Then a whole backyard full of cool kids at Ryleigh’s exclusive birthday party becomes the latest to disappear, leaving Momo, Ryleigh, Danny, boy band superstar Jin, and Momo’s old friend Niko the fox to fight a dangerous new enemy from Shinto legend.
This time they are up against Tamamo-no-mae—beautiful, bloodthirsty, and manipulative, she’s the ultimate mean girl of the Kami-verse. To defeat her, Momo must travel to the Sky Kingdom and steal the legendary Mirror of the Sun. But if she’s going to survive monster ambushes, escape giant snakes, and pull off the heist of the millennium, Momo will have to find a way to work with her team (even Ryleigh), and grapple with the growing power that connects her with her storm god grandfather, Susano’o’, and her greatest foe—Izanami the Destroyer.
In our last interview, you said, “…for my other books, drafting was a long and painful process all the way through.” What do you find most challenging about drafting, and what do you like most about the revision process?
The hardest thing about drafting for me is getting over the fear of making a mistake—just the simple act of putting the words on the page! I have to give myself a pep talk every single time I sit down at the computer. However, with experience, I’ve gotten calmer about the whole thing because I know I’ll get a chance to fix everything when I revise.
Revision is nice because at least I’ve been given some direction by my editor: put more emphasis on this theme, work on developing that character, etc. On the other hand, it’s during revisions that I really start to doubt myself, especially when the revisions are hard. I start to believe that I’ll never get it right, that the book is no good, that everyone will hate it and that my editor will be sorry that she chose to work with me. And yet I love writing!
Me too! In MOMO ARASHIMA BREAKS THE MIRROR OF THE SUN, children start to go mysteriously missing. How did this originally become a part of the plot?
To be honest, I don’t really remember! It was part of my idea for the story from the very beginning, I think. But I chose the villain, Tamamo-no-mae, because she is said to be one of the three most powerful/evil demons in Japan, and in the spring of 2022, when I was starting to draft this book, the boulder that was supposed to contain her spirit mysteriously split in half. I had been planning to use another demon as the villain, but this boulder thing felt like a sign, so I switched over to Tamamo-no-mae.
Oh wow, that is indeed mysterious! What, in your mind, was the most challenging part about writing a second book in a middle grade fantasy series?
Probably hardest part for me was developing the character arcs and escalating the threat of the Big Bad and still leave room for more character and story development. Another challenge was the themes—I had to both build on the themes from the first book, (without going over old territory) and weave in new themes organically. I did most of that during revisions, and it was really hard!
I can only imagine! Can we look forward to more middle grade fantasy books from you?
Yes! The third book in the Momo Arashima series will come out next spring!