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August 5, 2014

Guest Post by Rin Chupeco --- Character Interview with Okiku from THE GIRL FROM THE WELL

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The protagonist of THE GIRL FROM THE WELL, Okiko, is no ordinary girl. She is a ghost, and she wanders the streets hunting child killers, much like the one who threw her down a well 300 years ago. Since we couldn't exactly interview this fascinating character, we did the next best thing, and asked author Rin Chupeco to interview her FOR us --- who better to get inside her head? See below for the fascinating enchanting and slightly eerie conversation between author and character.

 


Rin Chupeco: Would you expect this book, THE GIRL FROM THE WELL, to help people understand more about you as an individual, along with your motivations?

Okiku No.

To ask for understanding is to imply that it is important for people to understand who I am. It is not. Your valuation of worth is different from mine. Your laws, fallible and inconstant and different with every generation that passes, are not my laws, which endure and take no notice of time or place.

To have a book based on my circumstances is different from a book that talks of myself, of which you will not find. Purpose, not personality, drives my existence. I am a small cog in the turning of eons, a tiny star in a galaxy of constellations. I do not require you to know why I am here, save only that I am.

I do not require understanding. I only require the freedom to take what I must, and leave what I should.

RC: Was there any 'punishment' you have administered that stood out among your many others?

O: One in particular comes to mind, all the more because it was not I who exacted the final punishment in the end.

It was in a small town they called Nagpur. There was a man there who killed and abused women with impunity. He was taken by the authorities, but they have taken him many times before, released him each time without sanction, and it left him free to prey on the helpless again and again. I had already marked him as my own, planned my retribution as I stood on those polished steps (13) when they led him into their courts of justice one final time.

But then the women (203) came, victims and the outraged alike. As one they swooped and snatched him up, and as one they took his blood and his extremities and his life, and left his remains on the floor for all to see.

There is much to be said about you humans. What you call justice is not always justice. But these women --- they understood. It is --- calming --- to know that there are those out there who understand, the way I do.

RC: Describe a day in the (after)life of Okiku.

O: I wander frequently, and often. I count things as they happen, whether they be cobblestones or cars or cats and dogs, and when I run out of things to count, I count them again. I watch people and listen to the things they think about, although more often than not I am frequently puzzled, or bored, by the things they deem important, and so often I listen out of habit and not from any real purpose.

The night is different. The voices begin often at nightfall, and it is here I begin to hunt. I follow the trail of thoughts to my intended prey, and I wait when they least expect it. To say that I do not enjoy what I do would be to lie.

Afterward, when the sun rises and the body stops twitching, I am at peace again, and continue my wanderings.

RC: Do you consider yourself a heroine or an avenger for good?

O: When I served lord Himeji, to be good was to obey him at all costs, even if you were to kill yourself at his command. To be good was to respect your superiors --- not to shame them before your lord. To be good was to have remained silent when one of them plots to kill your master, because a woman had no place in the affairs of men.

When I was thrown into that well, they said it was good, to punish a thief; one who did not know her place in society.

I have been to many countries where to be good in one is the exact opposite of being good in another. I have seen people do horrible things and believe it was for the greater good.

I cannot answer this question without asking first: what do you mean, by 'good'?

RC: What is your most treasured possession?

O: When the rage is calm and there is no one to take for the moment, I hunt for fireflies. Early on in my existence I had always wished I could be like a firefly --- to move across any field you choose, based on nothing more than the demands of your biology. To have my own light to guide me by. It must be liberating, I thought, to go where you wish, instead of being compelled to by the malice within you. It must be liberating to shine like that.

On days when I am sane, I seek them out in small meadows and patches of gardens. It is difficult to find them when I move through cities and concrete, and I am not always successful. But I find them more often than I do not, and for brief moments I find some small measure of respite, to watch them.

These fireflies are not of my possessions --- but they are treasured, nonetheless.

RC: What was your life like growing up in rural Japan?

O: I had a mother once, growing up. She was young still when she died, and I was young still when she did, but I remember her kindness, and her worry. I do not remember my father.

But I remember the small stream by our small house in the hills, where I had grown up until I was 12 and sent to the city to earn my living. I remember spending hours beside it, playing among the reeds and bathing in the cold waters. My favorite time of the year was when they released chochin lanterns into that small river, and it began my fascination for those little lights that spilled out across its surface, like bright dreams on paper.

One day, I would like to go back and visit that river again.


Despite uncanny resemblances to Japanese revenants, Rin Chupeco has always maintained her sense of humor. Raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. She’s been a technical writer and travel blogger, but now makes things up for a living. THE GIRL FROM THE WELL is her debut novel. Connect with Rin at www.rinchupeco.com.