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Creating Nisha Characters’ Looks

One of the intriguing behind-the-scenes process of the Sacred Rituals (Nisha sequel) cover is the back and forth discussion I had via WhatsApp with Inez. We were trying to create Nisha characters’ looks. From the first cover, we were quite clear on what Nisha would look like. But what about the others? And what kind of clothes did they wear? What would the look on their faces be?

Creating Nisha’s Look

Going back to the first cover, I knew I wanted Nisha to be South Asian or Northern Indian looking. Think Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai with her gorgeous features, but more warrior like instead of ladylike. The tricky thing was working out how her robe would look like. I found myself seeking inspiration from Kashmiri style clothes and scarves. That’s how her scarf came about. The scarf design and pattern became a theme going into the cover of Sacred Rituals.

Creating Saad’s Look

Saad’s character growth really gets quite developed in Sacred Rituals. He wasn’t just a sidekick anymore, it’s clear he now has a vital role in the plot. I was inspired by a friend of mine from Sri Lanka. This friend is dark-skinned, quiet, but very perceptive and smart. He’s the type that is soft spoken but tough. In real life, he leads many private sector investments in Sri Lanka and leads forward thinking high impact business initiatives. People like this are somehow always wearing glasses! LOL.

Creating Faris’ Look

As for Faris’ look, I had in mind a friend of mine from Spain. He’s extremely bright, and very handsome. It’s interesting that I took the name from my Sri Lankan friend Faris Fausz though. Another fascinating point is that you will notice Faris’ character is a bit ambiguous throughout. Whose side is he really on? You’ll have to find out by reading it yourself, but that mysterious feel was also inspired by this friend.

To get some more backstory behind other Nisha characters’ looks (especially the Aklumites!), subscribe to my newsletter. Support our work by purchasing at the shop, along with the first book: Nisha.

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Book Review: Omoiyari

Omoiyari by Erin Niimi Longhurst is the 12th book I read this year. The 11th book was The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin, which I reviewed on my TikTok account.

I usually buy and read books on my super antique Kindle (I got it way back in 2008!). So I go to bookstores and later buy the Kindle version because it’s often cheaper. This one, however, had such a beautiful cover that I could not resist. My husband Cung was familiar with Ryo Takemasa as an illustrator, so I thought if I’m going to buy a hardcopy, might as well buy a beautifully colored one.

Lovely Illustrations

The photography and illustrations did not disappoint. They were very well chosen with the philosophies of Japanese culture that the author brought up. A delightful book for my eyes.

I always enjoy learning more about different cultures (well this whole book is about another culture) so I was satisfied with learning about concepts such as omoiyari, kintsugi, and senzaburu (a thousand paper cranes) from the author.

The Reader’s Historical Background

Photo from teamtouring.net

Looking deeper into myself however, I realized that this book triggered some things inside. Being Indonesian, I am exposed through our history to all the horrors of the Japanese invasion from 1942-1945. There was a lot of horror during those years. When the author talked about forest-bathing as Japanese culture, I think of Taman Hutan Raya Djuanda, the forest in Bandung that I regularly walk at. In this forest, there are caves and tunnels called Dutch Caves and Japanese Caves where Japanese soldiers hid their ammunition.

It also evokes a book I read last year titled The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See about the haenyo (female divers) of Jeju Island. In 1910, Japan annexed Korea, including Jeju. Oh goodness, some of the stories were too painful to read. 

So for me, as much as I enjoyed learning about the compassionate side of Japanese culture, I also remember that there are two sides to everything. Even the most beautiful cultures have committed dark atrocities.

I suppose that is just the reality of this world.

Have you read Omoiyari? What did you think?