A novel about anime, peacemaking and kidnapping

This is a letter to YAR readers from Kathleen Kern, a colleague of mine at Christian Peacemaker Teams as well as a novelist. I was a fan of her first novel, Where Such Unmaking Reigns and I’ve also read the manuscript she describes below.


Last year, I completed a second novel featuring the work of a fictitious group called Reformed Anabaptist Peace Teams. I’ve posted the following on a number of anime websites, and checked with the local anime club at Rochester Institute of Technology, but have had still had no takers for more
than year. A YAR suggested I post my request here:

This year, I completed my second novel, the main character of which, Spike Darbyfield is emotionally invested in only two things: her younger sister, Margie, and higher end Japanese Anime series [the ones I mention the most are Blood+, Samurai Champloo, and Cowboy Bebop.] From others in her family,
colleagues, clientele, and the rest of humanity, she maintains an ironic or contemptuous detachment. When an Iraqi militant group kidnaps Margie while she is working for a human rights organization in Iraq, the crisis creates openings in what Spike has perceived as her invulnerable exterior, allowing
those who care about her to begin relating to her (and her to them) in different ways.

Now the question I put to my other readers is whether I have enough descriptions of Japanese Anime series to show Spike’s obsession with them, but not so many that it would deter readers who have no interest in anime. I thought maybe I should have at least one anime enthusiast as well read the manuscript to ensure I don’t commit any howling errors‹and my 14 year old niece is too young for some of the sexual content. If one of you or someone you know might be interested in this, please let me know.

My first novel, Where Such Unmaking Reigns was selected as a finalist in Barbara Kingsolver’s Bellwether prize and garnered me a fellowship to workshop the novel at Colgate University. In 2007, my chapter, “The Human Cost of Cheap Cellphones” appeared in A Game as Old As Empire, which was the followup to the John Perkins bestseller, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. See
http://www.gameasoldasempire.com/Contributors/kathleen-kern.htm . I am happy to supply a complete list of publications, if you want one, for some reason.

Some other things I’m looking for in a reader:

Spike is a 26-year-old slacker who’s kind of smug about her large vocabulary–so her using (or thinking) unusual words is fine by me, but I’m concerned about getting the twenty-something jargon, speech patterns and idioms right. I want to know if you can’t imagine a 26-year-old saying particular sentences.

The working title right now is “Because the Angels,” although I think “The Y-Factor” is also a possibility–and I’m very open to suggestions for something different.

I am writing from my experience as a worker for Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), a human rights organization, founded by Mennonites and other historic peace churches. We went through our own hostage crisis in 2005-2006 when four of my colleagues were kidnapped and one murdered in Iraq. I’ve invented a denomination, Reformed Anabaptist, that supports Reformed Anabaptist Peace Teams (RAPT). They’re basically a lot like Mennonites, but more neurotic. I’d like to have an outsider’s perspective on whether the passing references to Reformed Anabaptists and various church agencies are confusing. (Incidentally my history of Christian Peacemaker Teams, which took me 5
years to write, just appeared:

The novel is short-ish, about 220 manuscript pages/47,000 words, and I’d be willing to pay $20 for a short critique (i.e., a few general comments about your overall impression with suggestions for tweaking a few parts) and $40 for a detailed critique. (If you print it out and mail it, I’ll also cover
postage plus a three dollars for paper and printer ink.) It’s not a lot, I know, but if someone actually buys it, I will up the fee accordingly. My preference is to send attachments of the 18 chapters and have you use the Microsoft track changes feature as you comment on the manuscript.

Thank you for considering this proposal,

Kathleen Kern
kk at cpt dot org

Comments (4)

  1. DavidC

    When would you need this by? I am a 26 year old evangelical Anabaptist with an occasionally slightly pedantic vocabulary. (I don’t know much about Japanese Anime, though!) I could possibly give this a read over Christmas break (Dec 15 – Jan 15) but no sooner. Would that be a possibility? (If so, you can contact me at david.c.cramer[at]gmail.com)

  2. Skylark

    I have a lot more free time right now than David does. I’m happy to give this a go. I’m a 26-year-old Anabapist-but-goes-to-a-UCC-church-right-now female with limited knowledge of anime but a background in writing and editing.

    I have a Mac and use Pages. I can open Microsoft documents in Pages, make comments in Pages, and then convert it back to Microsoft, but I don’t think the “track changes” feature transfers very well.

    My email is kralyks4 (at) yahoo (dot) com

  3. Kathleen Kern

    Hi, thanks to you both for your offer to help, but I’ve actually had several people read it who are good writers and editors. What I’m missing is a reader with knowledge of anime. I was a bit surprised that no one from any of the anime sites I posted this request on responded. Back before my eyes went bad, I would have read anything–even stuff I knew I wouldn’t like–for $20. I read three Faulkner novels simply because a friend of mine liked them and I still don’t like Faulkner.

    It makes me wonder if anime enthusiasts read.

  4. MatthewL

    I am a 21 year old student at Bluffton University. I would love to help out with your book. I have been addicted to anime for the last 5 years. I not only know a lot about anime but also about other aspects of otaku culture, such as visual novels, and manga. I’ll let the other members of the anime club here to see if anyone else is interested in helping.

Comments are closed.