Door of the Day: The door with winged handles

Door of the Day: The door with winged handles

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Here are some angels for you on this day, found on the handles of this door in Seoul. This door led to my heart’s desire—COFFEE! You’ve probably read a book where the author described the door flying open . . . well, this one may literally do so with these two winged souls minding the entrance!

By the way, in Korea, coffee is an evening thing, NOT a morning thing, as is the case in North America. When I go to the coffee shop first thing in the morning in Seoul, I usually have the entire place to myself!

I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate the release of The Guardians of Zoone on February 25!

There are many types of coffee in the Zoone multiverse, but one of the most beloved hot beverages is Elandorian coffee, prized for its rich and invigorating flavors.

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.

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Door of the Day: The red door

Door of the Day: The red door

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Here’s a close-up of a vibrant red door in Garosu-gil, a neighborhood in Seoul, Korea, featuring ginkgo trees, stylish restaurants, and boutique shops. This is a door to one of those shops! The door is lovely, but I was as equally enamored with the wall!

I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate the release of The Guardians of Zoone on February 25!

Of course, portals in the Zoone nexus do NOT have walls. They are free-standing, surrounding Zoone Station on four different platforms of concentric circles.

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.

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Door of the Day: some are guarded by beasts . . .

Door of the Day: some are guarded by beasts . . .

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This is a door from Gyeongbok palace in Korea, with a traditional lock to secure its weathered wood.  I have walked the grounds here a few times, and have never tired of its beauty!

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I especially love the haetae guarding the gates and entrances to different buildings with the complex—haetae is a famous creature from Korean mythology. It is a protective creature, said to guard against natural disasters.

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I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate the release of The Guardians of Zoone on Feb25!  There are no haetae in Zoone but there is, of course, one very unique skyger named Tug!

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.

Zoonebooks-Bookshelf-basement

Door of the Day: One of my favorite places!

Door of the Day: One of my favorite places!

I often stay in Jongno-gu when I’m in Korea. I love the winding streets, the architecture—and the doors! Just check out this beautiful door knocker on this well-used and weathered doorway:

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I’ve wandered these alleyways many times! They can feel like a maze, but you never know what you will find when you turn a corner. Here, the traditional often suddenly collides with the modern. You can find many amazing restaurants sequestered here, especially ones featuring traditional cuisine.

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and love visiting Tapgol Park, a peaceful place beyond the bustle of the neighborhood. Here, no one is staring at their palms! Instead, this is the place where old people (like me?) retreat to listen to their radios and share stories beneath the watchful eyes of treasured monuments.

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Then, if you get hungry, you can wander down the street to try traditional bungeoppang, which is traditionally shaped like a fish and filled with red bean past. However, in the Insa-dong tourist district, it’s shaped like . . . poo (they call it poo-dough) and comes in different flavors (one of them being, of course, chocolate).

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In truth, this is one of my favorite places in the world, my home away from home.

I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate releases of The Secret of Zoone (paperback – January 28) and The Guardians of Zoone (February 25).

Yes, there is peculiar food to be found in the worlds of Zoone, too! Ozzie and his friends sample many of it—but I recommend going to Insa-dong and trying the poo-dough before tasting “witch pie,” which has all kinds of disgusting flavors, such as worm intestines.

Purchase and preorder links for both Zoone books can be found HERE.

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Door of the day: A secret entrance!

Door of the day: A secret entrance!

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Today’s door of the day is a secret one, found at Suwon, Korea. The exterior wall jukes, which might have confused attackers to make them think that retreating defenders had vanished into the stones!

Suwon is a beautiful old walled city; you can walk that wall and see the old gazing solemnly upon the ever-encroaching modernity. I visited Suwon during my very first visit to Korea, back in 2007 (I’ve been more than 20 times since!), and I fell in love with it.

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I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate releases of The Secret of Zoone (paperback – January 28) and The Guardians of Zoone (February 25). There are many secret doors at Zoone Station, concealed in the walls to provide shortcuts or paths to forbidden chambers. In fact, Ozzie and Fidget will find one such door during their attempt to rescue an important member of their crew in The Guardians of Zoone.

Purchase and preorder links for both Zoone books can be found HERE.

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Door of the Day: three magnificent gates leading to a secret world

Door of the Day: three magnificent gates leading to a secret world

Here are three magnificent and imposing doors at Changdeokgung (the Palace of Prospering Virtue), one of five grand palaces in Korea—and a UNESCO world heritage site.

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This site also features a secret garden and, when we were there, we saw a neoguri (raccoon-dog).

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Changdeokgung-Korea-neoguri

I’m posting door inspirations from my travels to celebrate the release of The Secret of Zoone (paperback – January 28) & The Guardians of Zoone (February 25) with HarperCollins Children’s books. There will be many photos from Korea, since it (and the UK) are the places outside of Canada that I spend the most time in!

Purchase and preorder links for both Zoone books are HERE.

 

In search of the nine-tailed fox

In search of the nine-tailed fox

This past summer, I led a summer camp in Korea with the theme of magical creatures. I have plenty of magical creatures in my own books—some of them borrowed from mythology (dragon, unicorns, perytons, etc.) and some are completely made up (like Tug the skyger, who is a main character in The Secret of Zoone).

But there is a creature I’ve been becoming more and more interested in, and that’s the fox spirit, which is prominent in Asian folktales and myths. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent so much time in Korea, or maybe because so many of my creative writing students in Canada come from Chinese or Korean backgrounds. And, of course, my son being adopted from Japan has something to do with it.

The fox spirit in myth and legend

Legends about the fox spirit vary from country to country, story to story, but a common theme is that it is depicted with multiple tails—often nine. In Japan, it is called kyūbi no kitsune (literally fox with nine tails), in Korea it is called kumiho or gumiho (also, literally, fox with nine tails), and in China it’s called húli jīng or jiǔwěihú. Sometimes the foxes are seeking to gain all nine tails, which will take a thousand years (gaining a tail every hundred years) and allow them to transcend to a greater wisdom or being. They are sometimes associated with being evil (especially kumiho in Korea)—they can shapeshift into beautiful women and are often portrayed trying to seduce young men, even desiring to eat their livers!

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Last summer, when we first met Hiro, I encountered many fox effigies at the temple sites throughout Japan. When we returned to Tokyo this summer with Hiro, I made a point to seek out one of the temples in the city featuring the fox.

These are the benign versions of the fox spirit. Kitsune is associated with the God Inari, who is worshiped for fertility, rice, tea, sake, agriculture—essentially prosperity and success. That is why kitsune can be found at so many Shinto sites.

A trip to Toyoa Inari Betsuin

On a sweltering morning in Tokyo, we headed to Toyoa Inari Betsuin to see the many kitsune assembled at the shrine. It’s not always easy to make the trek across the city with a one-year-old in tow, especially when it comes to navigating the subway system. Actually the Tokyo subway system itself is easy—finding ways in and out with a stroller aren’t, especially at the older stations.

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But that minor inconvenience was offset by the beautiful shrine.

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When it came to finding foxes, we weren’t disappointed—there were countless ones at Toyoa Inari Betsuin.

Here are just a few of the many photos of the kitsune . . . such delightful creatures! Many of them were wearing a red bib (a symbol of good luck).

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To provide a bit more information about the shrine, I transcribed the information from the welcoming sign, which is also in the photo below:

The Toyokawa Inari is in reality the Toyokawa Dakini Shinten, one of the many Buddhist saints who were Protectors of the Buddhist doctrines. This saint has a beautiful countenance mounted on a white fox, carrying the ear of rice, and is called Toyokawa Inari. It has been enshrined in the Myōgon-ji, a temple in Toyokawa City, Aichi Prefecture, since the first founder Kangan Giin received an inspiration, enshrined it about 700 years ago. Since then, it has been worshipped by peoples of all walks of life, bringing them happiness and saving them from the suffering through the generations to this day.

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I’m pondering the idea of incorporating a magical fox with multiple tails in one of my upcoming middlegrade books. I think my many students with Asian backgrounds (not to mention my son!) will like it, though I know my magical fox won’t be an antagonist, but rather a helpful character.

The multiple tails also seem to match up very nicely with another main idea I’m developing for the book. I don’t have much else to say on it at this point, but let’s see how it goes . . .