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Thursday, December 14, 2017

S.J. Pajonas Visits with her New Release @spajonas

I'm happy to welcome S.J. Pajonas today. She's here to talk about her new release in the Hikobashi series, Chaos in Kadoma Ward, a science fiction romance. I've read both books in this series and thoroughly enjoyed both. 

First, let's get to know her better. Welcome. Please tell us about yourself.

Hi! I’m Stephanie, also known as SJ. I’m a writer, knitter, amateur astrologer, Capricorn, and Japanophile, and I love foxes, owls, sushi, yoga pants, Evernote, and black tea. I'm also an author who has trouble to sticking to one genre. I love complex characters and worlds, and I especially love Japan and Japanese culture. When I sit down to write, I think about the kind of story I want to tell, be it science fiction, mystery, or romance, and then relate this to a Japanese topic or cultural idea I've been researching. Out pops a great story at the end. Right now, you'll find science fiction, cozy mysteries, magical realism, and romance in my collection, but like one reviewer, Lola, says about me, "With every book Pajonas writes, it just feels comforting. When I read one of her books, her writing style just works for me, and even while I had little time to read, I instantly got sucked into the book again when I picked it up."

I wish I'd said that. LOL I feel the same way. Back to the interview. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I’m a stay-at-home mom while also being an author, so I juggle my writing time around my kids’ school schedules. I tend to get in my exercise first thing in the morning, and then work on any promotional work I have to do right after. I write in the late mornings, after lunch, and then again in the evenings. Some days work out better than others. Some days I get all my work done with no problem. Other times, dentist appointments or other such obligations can get in the way. I just try to do my best to hit my schedules!

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

When I’m not writing, I like to walk and listen to audiobooks, knit, and watch movies. During the summer, you’ll find me reading at the town pool. I wish I liked to cook! Cooking is something I do out of necessity, and it sometimes turns out to be a success.

What is the best part of writing for you?

The best part of writing for me is watching a story unfold from my mind to the page. I’m an author who rarely plots anything ahead of time. I like to choose a starting point and tell the story from there. Sometimes I have no idea what I’ll write at all! And then I get to the end and I’m surprised by where my own brain took me. That’s always quite the trip, and definitely always a lot of fun.

It is indeed a great feeling and a lot of fun. Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, outline, or...?

Writing almost always begins in my head for several months before I really sit down to do anything. I’ll spend my time on my walks or knitting or doing chores just thinking about characters, what they do, what motivates them, who they love, who they hate. I always know a story is going to be good based on the amount of time I daydream about the characters prior to sitting down and putting anything on paper. I’ve had plenty of ideas that have faded after only a day or two of daydreaming. Those are the ones I set aside. Everything else that occupies my thoughts gets a chance to live on the page. After that, I’m a pantser, meaning I write by the seat of my pants. I discovery write along the way and figure things out as I go. Outlining has never worked for me, and goodness knows, I’ve tried!

What did you learn from writing your first book?

If I learned anything from writing my first book it’s that pacing is the most important part of telling a story and that compromise is key. Move the story too fast and you confuse and exhaust the reader. Move the story too slow and you’ll bore the reader. If anything, I tend to err on “too slow” which I believe my first book is. Still, even after a ton of revisions on that book, it moves as fast as I want it to. Sometimes a slower story is what’s called for. That’s where I had to compromise.

Are your stories driven by plot or character?

I write science fiction and cozy mysteries, both of which are plot-motivated genres. But characters are really important to me both as an author and as a reader, so I try to compromise as much as possible. The plot may drive the story, but my characters are the ones reacting to it and making the choices. They are what readers fall in love with. If I hear one common thing amongst reviewers, it’s that my characters make them come back for more.

I agree. Yumi captured me right away. So inquisitive. What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work?

All of my series (both the sci-fi and cozy mysteries) are Japan-inspired. I have a deep love of Japan that has lasted more than two decades, and when I started writing professionally, I really wanted to show that love in my work. I hope that readers will take a little bit of Japan with them when they read my stories – either they learn something new or want to learn more.

Tell us about your latest release.

My latest release is Chaos in Kadoma Ward, the second book of the Hikoboshi Series. This series is science fiction, space opera, action adventure with a romance sub-plot. A little bit of everything for everyone! The first book in the series, Crash Land on Kurai, was an idea I had floating around in my head for a long time. I wanted to write about a confident journalist who finds herself up to her neck in troubles and way out of her comfort zone. Journalists are curious by nature, so my main character, Yumi, is a lot of fun to write. She asks hard questions even when her life is on the line, and she’s always hoping to get to the bottom of a juicy story. The universe I set this tale in is the same universe as my original sci-fi series, but I took my characters and introduced them to a whole new society to study and explore. This made it easier for new readers to enter into my work from a new angle and not feel like they missed anything important if they didn’t read the older series. It’s been a lot of fun to write! I’m currently writing the third book in the series and hope to have it available in Spring 2018.

Tell us more. Please.

CHAOS IN KADOMA WARD is the second book in the Hikoboshi Series, an action adventure, space opera series that explores the worlds settled by the Japanese who fled Earth a century ago. Culture, history, technology, and swords clash in a fast-paced future society on the brink of war.


Contract by proxy — Yumi is owned by a corporation. Forced into a new life on the planet Hikari, she has two objectives: find a job and get along with Rin, the man holding her life in his hands. But with her occupation missing from this planet and her enemies looking for her, she must intrude on the kindness of reluctant strangers to stay out of harm’s way. Rin’s ex-wife wants Yumi gone, and a judge threatens to deport her if he catches her loitering about town with no job. Her desire to bolt grows stronger daily.
But Rin won’t let her go. He’s fascinated with the stories she brings from home, stories that promise to save him from the madness they all live in, a meritocracy with low birth rates and malfunctioning androids. As they build a tenuous friendship, and something more, Yumi has to face her fears, her inadequacies, and her lack of control. A headstrong journalist, she’s pushing her luck on Hikari every day as the society turns bored, restless, and finally rebellious. War is coming, and Yumi and Rin are right in the middle of it.
A soft, low chime rings through the room, and a disembodied female voice declares, “You have a visitor. Atsumi Sekino requests access to the apartment.”
“What the hell is that?” I ask, looking around.
Rin’s jaw tightens. “Atsumi? What does she want now?”
He stalks out, and I follow him to the front door. The door has changed, a screen overlay showing Atsumi standing in the hallway. I recognize her face from the photo, but she’s dressed for business in a smart suit with her hair down around her shoulders. Rin taps on the screen.
“Atsumi, can it wait till tomorrow? I just got home.”
“Rin, we have to talk now. I know Yumi Minamoto is in there with you.”
Rin lets out one of his weary sighs, and it’s ten times worse than what he uses for me. Now I know where this habit comes from.
As he reaches for the door, I hurriedly smooth myself out, patting down my ragged hair and weeks’ old clothing. I don’t know why I care, but I’d like for us to get along.
“Thanks. I know it’s getting late,” Atsumi says, barging in like she owns the place. She sets her bag to the side and slides off her heels. “But we have things to discuss tonight, and I needed to see this Minamoto in person.”
She looks right through me as her voice registers in my head. I’ve heard it before.
“Really, Rin? This?” She gestures to me. “I saw the photos, but I didn’t believe them.”
“Excuse me?” I say, holding back my temper. Barely.
“Yumi Minamoto, this is my ex-wife, Atsumi Sekino. Atsumi, Yumi.”
We stand, soldier-straight.
“You will bow. I’m at least six levels above you,” Atsumi demands.
“Atsumi,” Rin growls. “Is this necessary?”
I bow anyway, confused as to how this introduction went off the rails so quickly. What have I done?
“Good,” she says, a huff in her voice. “Rin is neglecting to tell you I’m also his boss.” Ah-ha. That’s where I’ve heard her voice, when I’ve eavesdropped on Rin in his bedroom back at the temple on Kurai. “We’ve been divorced for over a year. I’m long past ex-wife status.” She peers around me to take in the rest of the apartment. “I see nothing’s changed, though. We should sit down.”
“Not a chance. You’re not staying. I just brought Yumi home. I’d like her to get settled in.”
“How gallant of you.” Atsumi’s voice is a river of sarcasm. “But don’t get too comfortable.” She bends over and retrieves her tablet from her bag. “Do you have any idea the kind of hell you’ve put me through for the last two weeks?”
“Nooooooo.” Rin drags out the one syllable into ten or more. “I spoke with you last week, and you didn’t mention anything. What’s going on?”
“Narumi Ogawa, that bitch of a boss from Aoi Uma, has been petitioning for the removal and disposal of Minamoto for” — she scrolls through something on her tablet — “excessive property damage, illegal termination of ten androids, arson of Shiroi Nami’s temple…” She looks up from her tablet at me. Blood from my brain is sinking to my feet. “You must have friends in Shiroi Nami because they went to bat for you on that charge, but the district judges let it stay.” She clears her throat. “Breach of contract, and on and on. What the f*** were you thinking?” Atsumi spits at Rin.
Rin stiffens. “We’re not married anymore. You can’t talk to me like that.”
I take a small step back, running through possible scenarios in my head. I can run. I can hide out.
I can do so little.

One last thing. Where can readers find you?

You can find me at the following places…
Website: https://www.spajonas.com/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/spajonas/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SJPajonas/
Tumblr: http://spajonas.tumblr.com
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/spajonas/
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/spajonas/
Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/spajonas/
Amazon Profile: http://www.amazon.com/author/sjpajonas/
Goodreads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7233209.S_J_Pajonas

Thanks so much for visiting, Stephanie. I'm anxiously waiting for the next book in this series.


  1. Thank you for having me on the blog, Diane! It was a pleasure!

    1. I love the opportunity to share your books. You know how much I enjoy them.

  2. Congratulations on your release!

  3. I love learning about history and other cultures through fiction. Great post!

  4. Great interview. LOVE the cover! Sounds like an excellent read. Best wishes!


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