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Next issue of Sparkler Monthly (#033) will have a special Ayase/Nick short story, which takes place (in canon) about halfway through Book 2. It was requested by Hanna Paquette in the Sparkler: Year 3 Kickstarter, and she has excellent taste.

Also featuring an adorable illustration by @romy-chan

It will be cute but also full of yelling, because Ayase and Nick.

Lianne: I had to delay the final release of Book 2 a little longer (sigh…), but the ebook should be out sometime next month, and then I think we’re starting Book 3 in the Oct issue of Sparkler. Sorry for the ridiculous hiatus!

Here’s a little preview of some of the Book 2 bonus material: an illustration by Romy-chan for the Adam short story Press START To Continue (click that link to read right now).Adam and his gramma! XD This is so cuuuuuuute!

Nick had enough of a beard in four days that he could dye it black, along with the rest of his very short hair. His legs were still shaky and he felt weak as hell, but at least he could keep food down. Hatsumi gripped his arm while he walked to help him stay upright.

The man at the club looked at him funny, though. Nick only picked up a little of the guy’s Japanese, so Hatsumi translated. If Nick worked as the bouncer there, he could stay in the abandoned office above the club–there was an ancient futon there–and was promised a little cash at the end of every night. They offered him a commission if he could lure more men in to visit the girls. Hatsumi was a hostess, apparently.

Nick had zero plans to hustle drunk salarymen when he was a fugitive, but the shelter and cash were enough. The man liked how huge Nick appeared when he leaned in the doorway, and apparently didn’t notice that Nick did it on shaking knees.

Those first few nights were hard. The place only had squat toilets, so Nick had to sit on the dirty floor of a stall to get off his feet for a few minutes. Nick was ordered to throw a belligerent customer out at one point, and the man landed a punch on Nick’s jaw that cracked his head to the side and sent the world spinning. Nick still managed to shove the guy out the door, but spent half of the night puking in those squat toilets.

Lianne: For anyone who saw me ranting about Nick on Twitter the last few days, I finally finished that bonus story about him for the Book 2 ebook/paperback. I’m finishing the Book 2 revisions now for release in a few weeks, then Book 3 starts in the Oct issue of Sparkler.

I never liked Nick much as a character, despite the fact that he was inspired by a friend I happen to like a lot - he was always too dominating in every scene he was in. I wanted him to move the plot and then get the hell out of the way so the subtler characters could get a chance to develop. But the readership seemed to really like him, and it sounded like some of my male readers actually found him relatable, so I forced myself to re-evaluate the guy and find a way to integrate him into the story better. Most of that happened through his relationship with Ayase, which slid nicely into a rival dynamic.

But this story made me to write through his perspective, explain his detox in detail, and outline how he met and fell in love with Hatsumi, who’s barely made an appearance in the book. And in the (unusually long) process of writing this, Nick started to straighten out in my head. I could see how he was a bundle of contradictions - strong vs weak, smart vs INCREDIBLY FUCKING STUPID - and how he bumbled through his 20s as just a giant, angry mess. I think this story feels pretty different from the rest of Tokyo Demons, the way the Adam story did, but in a good way - it’s about the problems of adults, not teenagers. and there are issues of race and “home” and family that don’t come up much with the Fukuhashi characters. It also let me lay some groundwork for Hatsumi, who’s going to step up in Book 3 and become a bigger part of the plot.

Anyway, my point is - if you’re a writer, and you’ve created a character you’re not excited to write about, I strongly suggest writing out a detailed short story through his/her perspective about an important time in his/her life. It’ll force you to get in there, make connections, untangle issues, and just understand that character in the way a simple description of “backstory is X” doesn’t. You’ll have to live as that character for a while, and you can’t live inside someone without relating to them at least a little.

Plus, it was fun to pretend to be a giant, angry white guy for a little while. Like the Batman archetype, but with less money and way more fucking up,

(Pic by Romy-chan.)

Tokyo Demons Character Profiles (see all of them here)

Name: Nick Marshall
Age, gender: 31, M
Abilities: Military training, biochemistry, and (slight spoiler) former Pitch junkie.
Voice actor: Jae Rodgers (also voices Touya)
Voice clip: (link) (had to pick something where he says “car” :D)

Nick (an American Masshole) is one of those guys who joined the U.S. Army Reserve to pay for college, then ended up getting deployed during the Gulf War. He deserted during his first tour and hung out in the Middle East for a while before joining the French Foreign Legion. Ito was also a member–he’d lost his medical license in Japan for, surprise surprise, drug problems–and Nick was drawn to the guy and eventually followed him to Japan. Nick embodies the expression “curiosity killed the cat,” since his perpetual quest for meaning in his life has drawn him to things that BACKFIRED HORRIBLY. Ironically, he’s found a strange sort of happiness in Japan, even with a giant bounty on his head–fighting Core has given him the mission and purpose he was always searching for. He unearthed his long-buried passion for science through Hatsumi, his live-in girlfriend (whom he’s weirdly quiet about).

  • Best friend: Hatsumi and Daniel.
  • Worst friend: Detective Nakajima. (Wow, she’s also terrible with everyone!)
  • Rival: Ito/Zero.
  • Romance: He’s in it for the long with Hatsumi. They’ve…been through a lot together.
  • Fun fact: Nick is estranged from his conservative Protestant family and has become a staunch Atheist, despite the fact that the Vatican pays him a stipend now. He met Daniel during a drunken rage when he went to literally piss on the side of a church in memory of his family. (Dude has anger issues.) Nick’s life is a colorful mix of opposing forces and yelling! He’s getting a short story in the ebook/paperback version of Book 2, mostly about his mysterious relationship with Hatsumi, which started during his detox.

(Art by Romy-chan, character design by rem.)