Date Published: 4/28/2017
Yumiko Itsumoto wants it all. An accomplished artist and feared attorney, she gets what she wants, all else be damned. Now she wants love, even if it means charting a new course for her life, but changing course can be dangerous. In mere moments, she tumbles from the dizzying pinnacle of success into a bottomless abyss of murder and treachery. Yumiko will not live happily ever after—not this time—but can she at least find a way to stay alive?
Author J. Whitney Williams follows CARRIED AWAY—his surprisingly intelligent and deftly written debut—with a story that is even sexier, more thrilling and more enthralling than the first.
Again taking the reader on a trip across the world, meeting strange people in strange places via a prodigious narrator, CHOSEN PATH follows Yumi, a powerful and apparently dispassionate supporting character introduced in book one. But appearances deceive. Here, the reader is immersed in Yumi—into the very depths of her complex mind, her conflicted yet determined soul, her insatiable sex drive.
When Yumi encounters the woman who she presumes to be the fiancée of the love of her life—perhaps her only true love—she has every reason to seize the opportunity that presents itself to erase the woman from both of their lives forever. It’s no wonder Yumi is the prime suspect for the unfortunate woman’s swift and seemingly heartless murder. Unable to recall herself, Yumi assumes the worst, too. It wouldn’t be the first tragic fate to befall someone who stood in her way—or the last—and cameras don’t lie.
In CHOSEN PATH, Williams explores the very essence of what makes us human. The protagonist, a uniquely flawed yet extraordinarily likable woman of many talents and trades, demonstrates the jealousy and manipulation we see in ourselves and despise in others. At the same time, we’re drawn to Yumi. Geisha. Samurai. Assassin. Pseudo-royalty. Nothing happens to her; she creates. If we all shaped our own circumstances, our destinies, as adroitly as she, what paths would we choose and where would they lead us?
What is the hardest part of writing your books?
Somewhere deep in the forest, I can no longer see the trees. Writing, reading, rewriting, revising, rereading, all kind of smudge the ink, if you will. After enough passes, I cannot hear my own words. I cannot perceive them as a reader because they have become so ingrained.
Pick any word out of the dictionary and repeat it a hundred times. The word loses meaning, and you start to hear the sounds of the syllables themselves. With enough repetition, even the sounds break down, and your thoughts while speaking the word bear no relation to the word itself. Fresh perception becomes impossible.
There is a dead end of self-criticism one must reach before asking readers or editors for advice. Paradoxically, reaching that end makes the advice difficult to take. It’s like building a piece of furniture, sanding and polishing to absolute perfection. Then you find out the chair should have arms. It’s hard to pull myself far enough back into the process of refinement that I can make substantive changes that don’t feel unnaturally grafted on.
What songs are most played on your Ipod?
I don’t have an iPod. The most played song on my guitar is Loretta by Townes Van Zandt.
Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
Yes, and test readers are precious. As a computer programmer, I love testing things. Software can be tested over and over, completely retested after the most minor change. It’s an artistic domain in which perfection exists. Fiction cannot be retested, and each test run yields different results. Language is an artistic domain in which perfection does not exist. We make guesses. We approximate. We learn.
Writing software, I never leave work until all the tests pass. Writing fiction, good tests never pass.
What book are you reading now?
I’m a binge reader. I read 1984 in one sitting last week.
How did you start your writing career?
I was using the internet irresponsibly one night, and I thought to myself, “None of this pornography interests me.” As I have no graphical artistic abilities, I started writing. My first book, Carried Away, began as pure pornography, but the mechanical hows-its of copulation do not entertain on their own. I want to know who and why.
Yumiko is a good example. She began with all the depth of an inflatable doll, the seductive geisha. Her career as a sex toy only lasted about ten minutes. Why was she there? Why was she seducing people? She must have had an ulterior motive, some plan as brilliant as it was nefarious. I gave her one, and she lived for several weeks as the vindictive geisha/attorney/hustler. What would her life be like, as such? What toll would it take on her, to be absolutely relentless? Those questions made Yumiko a dynamic character, and Chosen Path is how I answer them. Eighty-thousand-odd words later, the inflatable geisha had grown a soul.
Through no fault of my own, I was writing not only smut, but novels. The few people to whom I showed excerpts were awestruck. So many told me I should be a professional writer that I eventually set out to prove them wrong. You, of course, dear reader, will be the judge.
My first book, Carried Away, left several loose ends I wanted to tie up. Yumiko’s story was only one of them, but it exploded into novel of its own. Fiction is like a system shoved out of equilibrium. Plot is the resolution of some struggle, the motion of a system returning to a steady state in which everyone is happy and wise. Some of my characters remain unhappy and unwise. They’ll have their chance.
About the Author