Author Top 5 with Valynne E. Maetani

Author Top 5 with Valynne E. Maetani

 

Today we welcome Valynne E. Maetani to YABC! Ink and Ashes, Maetani's new suspense-filled mystery, has everything needed for a knockout debut! This novel centers around a mystery involving the Yakuza (Japanese Mafia) and Valynne is here to share the top five interesting facts about this group! 

 

 

Meet Valynne.

 

Valynne E. Maetani grew up in Utah and obtained a Bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania. In a former life, she was a project manager and developed educational software for children with learning disabilities. Currently, she is a part-time stage mom, part-time soccer mom, and full-time writer. Her debut novel, Ink and Ashes, is the winner of the New Visions Award 2013 and a Junior Library Guild 2015 selection. Maetani is a member of the We Need Diverse Books team and is dedicated to promoting diversity in children's literature because all children should grow up believing their stories deserve to be told.

 

Now meet Valynne's book.

b2ap3_thumbnail_ink-and-ashes.jpg

Claire Takata has never known much about her father, who passed away ten years ago. But on the anniversary of his death, she finds a letter from her deceased father to her stepfather. Before now, Claire never had a reason to believe they even knew each other. Struggling to understand why her parents kept this surprising history hidden, Claire combs through anything that might give her information about her father . . . until she discovers that he was a member of the yakuza, a Japanese organized crime syndicate. The discovery opens a door that should have been left closed. The race to outrun her father’s legacy reveals secrets of his past that cast ominous shadows, threatening Claire, her friends and family, her newfound love, and ultimately her life. Winner of Tu Books’ New Visions Award, Ink and Ashes is a fascinating debut novel packed with romance, intrigue, and heart-stopping action.

 

And now, here are five things you need to know about the Yakuza!

 

 

 

1. Yakuza members are known for their colorful tattoos, irezumi. The traditional method involves manually inserting the ink under the skin. 

 

Originally, however, the tattoos and the yakuza date back to early17th century Japan when prisoners were tattooed by authorities to mark them as criminals. Early yakuza members were often part of groups involved in illegal activities and began to add to their existing prison tattoos to show their affiliation with the organization. 

 

 

2. While the yakuza’s activities are often illegal and secret, organized crime syndicates are, unlike other countries, not banned in Japan.

 

There are many yakuza groups and some of these organizations have had offices at times with signs displaying their name or emblem. 

 

(This yakuza office is actually right next door to a police station.) 

 

 

(The Kumagai Gumi Tokyo gang is part of one of the largest organizations, the Inagawakai, whose emblem is above them.) 

 

3. The yakuza are known for engaging in sokaiya, a form of extortion or blackmail. 

 

Small groups or the crime syndicate buy enough shares in a corporation so they can attend shareholder’s meetings. Since Japanese people fear shame more than anything else, these groups then dig up dirt and find ways to humiliate the executive leadership. To ensure annual meetings run smoothly, companies are willing to pay off the yakuza in all kinds of ways, including donations to fake charities, paying exorbitant subscription fees for useless magazines or buying tickets to yakuza events at ridiculously inflated prices.

 

  1. In the picture below, Deputy President of Mizuho Bank Toshitsugu Okabe apologizes for a scandal involving the bank’s illicit loan payoffs to sokaiya. 

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_03.jpg

 

 

4. While the yakuza are known for operating through extortion and sometimes violent methods, they are also known for helping those most in need.

 

Their code of honor, ninkyo, forbids them from allowing others to suffer. When an earthquake occurred off the coast of Tohoku on March 11, 2011, it triggered one of the largest tsunamis in Japan’s history. The waves caused extensive damage to roads, railways, and nuclear reactors, but the yakuza were one of the first to arrive with relief, including food, blankets, water, and other supplies. 

 

(Yakuza members deliver boxes of diapers) 

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_00.jpg

 

(Tsunami debris in Otsuchi) 

 

5. Women are very rarely members of the yakuza because they are marginalized. Usually they are relegated to nothing more than servants, and even the wives and daughters of leaders are not spared this treatment.

 

However, there is one exception, Fumiko Taoka, who was the wife of Kazuo Taoko, the yakuza boss of Yamaguchi­gumi, the largest clan. When Kazuo died of a heart attack in 1981, it created a power vacuum because the new leader would be chosen from eight men who were the next highest in rank. Fumiko stepped in to act as oyabun, godfather, and is the one of the only females in history to have done so. She ran the clan for several months until a new leader was chosen. 

 

 

Thank you, Valynne!

 

What happens when Claire Takata uncovers her father’s hidden past? Read Ink and Ashes to find out! And for more information about Valynne E. Maetani and her writing, visit her website HERE!

 

Rate this blog entry:
A Conversation with Elena Dunkle
Author Top 5 with Carrie Ryan

Related Posts

 

Comments

No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

The 11:11 Wish
Megan Meyers has a foolproof plan to reinvent herself at...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Silver Mask
A generation ago, Constantine Madden came close to achieving what...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Children of Exile
Rosi must decide what she’s willing to risk to save...
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Teeth of the Gods
Chained to an enemy general. Determined to be free....
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
The Vampire Trick (Dark World: The Vampire Wish 3)
In a kingdom full of secrets, no one can...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
I Am Alfonso Jones
Alfonso Jones can't wait to play the role of...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Unearthed
From the New York Times best-selling author duo Amie...
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
The Boyfriend Agreement
Fake boyfriends are hard work. When 16-year-old Bella’s dream...
 
4.8
 
0.0 (0)
You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone
Eighteen-year-old twins Adina and Tovah have little in common...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Believarexic
Asking for help is only the first step. ...
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Graveyard Shakes
Katia and Victoria are sisters and scholarship students at a...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Black Star Renegades
In the tradition of Star Wars, a galaxy-hopping space adventure...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
This Tiny Perfect World
The big-hearted story of a small-town girl who discovers how...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Last to Let Go
A twisted tragedy leaves Brooke and her siblings on their...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Pretty Dead Girls
Beautiful. Perfect. Dead. In the...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
By a Charm and a Curse
A kiss is never just a kiss. ...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

No Sad Songs
 
4.0
"The first thing that popped into my mind when I read No Sad Song's synopsis was: this sounds familiar. It's..."
The 11:11 Wish
 
4.0
"'The 11:11 Wish' by Kim Tomsic basks in the power of the unthinkable, yet totally imaginable. Every young person (and..."
Without You
 
3.3
"'Without You' by Yesenia Vargas had many sweet moments. It told of a relationship between Ariana and Lucas, as well..."
The Silver Mask
 
5.0
"With Aaron gone, Call has trouble getting his feet back on the ground. He's torn up because he feels responsible..."
Dragonkyn
 
4.0
"When Marc hits puberty, something inside of him starts to change. The first thing he notices is that heat doesn't..."
Children of Exile
 
3.7
"Rosi is twelve-years-old and she and the other children of Fredtown were taken from an unsafe situation with their birth..."
I Am Alfonso Jones
 
5.0
"Alfonso Jones is a bright teen who is excited to try out for Hamlet at his school. When he and..."
Sword and Scion 01: Into the Dark Mountains
 
5.0
AmyAmy
"We read this book as a family and had a hard time putting it down. We looked forward to..."
Believarexic
 
3.3
"BELIEVAREXIC is the fictionalized memoir of author JJ Johnson's stay in an eating disorder unit (EDU) in the 80s. The..."
Graveyard Shakes
 
4.0
"All Victoria wants to do is fit in, but instead, her and her sister Katia are always being teased. It..."
The Vampire Fate (Dark World: The Vampire Wish 4)
 
5.0
"The plot twist at the end of the third book was epic and I was so excited to start this..."
Alicia and the Light Bulb People in Star Factory 13
 
4.5
"'Alicia and the Light Bulb People in Star Factory 13' by Barbara Roman, illustrated by Vladimir Cebu, is a sweet..."
This Tiny Perfect World
 
3.0
"Things that worked: The small town setting. Although it felt restrictive to the main character, a small town story often..."
The Boyfriend Agreement
 
4.8
"'The Boyfriend Agreement' by Seven Steps is definitely a hard one to put down! With a mix of romance, intrigue,..."
The Vampire Trick (Dark World: The Vampire Wish 3)
 
5.0
"I don't even know where to begin. This series is just so good and each book builds you up for..."
InterWorld (InterWorld #1)
 
3.5
"A solid sci-fi/urban fantasy adventure premise, ideally targeting the mid-to-upper Middle Grade demographic. It’s a quick read—overall fun and fast-paced...."
The Traitor Prince
 
4.3
"An adventurous, accessible YA fantasy—with likely appeal for fans of An Ember In The Ashes. Based loosely on an..."
You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone
 
5.0
"You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone was one of the last books I read in 2017 and I couldn't have..."
The Vampire Prince (Dark World: The Vampire Wish 2)
 
5.0
"When Annika discovers Geneva, she realizes that she's the only one who can help her take down the Vale. With..."
Roar of the Thunder Dragon: A Branches Book (Dragon Masters #8)
 
5.0
"Carlos's dragon Lalo has been take by Eko, a Dragon Master who uses her powers for causing trouble. When King..."