I ended up with several beta readers for Teahouse, and one common theme throughout the novel (amongst several others that I’m not touching upon until revisions are underway) was that the story seemed to be a rip off of one or more rather well-known J-horror films. While it’s true that I wrote this as more of a nod to Kurosawa Kiyoshi and Shimizu Takashi, I think I may have overdone it.
In the end, the need for a Asian characters and locations isn’t as necessary as I once thought it was. In fact, now that I can look at the manuscript with a bit of critical distance, it feels to me like the teahouse was merely a set piece, and I’m not too pleased with that. I do feel that, even done with the best intentions, the story as it is written now is only going to come off as Japanophilic nonsense, and possibly even somewhat plagiaristic.
So, back to the drawing board. Where to go now?
Some of the characters will be easy to change or replace, either by renaming them and changing passages about their features or backgrounds, while some may have to go entirely. The story as it is now is rather elastic, and I think it will survive all of the cutting and rearranging, though I’m still not certain what direction I want to take it in just yet.
I think what this story actually needs is a bit of definite location. A bit of local flavor, perhaps. I don’t know just yet.
It’s a bit disappointing to find out that the story you started off with isn’t the badass piece of amazing literature it felt like in your head, but it was also somewhat expected.