I first came up with the idea for Nine Tails when I was helping to clean out my grandmother’s house. She was a hoarder, and as I went about clearing out rooms so that she could move through the house safely in her old age, I pondered the idea of a boy who manages to find a magical artifact under similar conditions.
I had only really considered writing Western style fantasy (or urban fantasy) prior to this little spark of an idea, but I soon dove in to reading Korean folktales to try and find artifacts that might fit the role I had imagined. Before I knew it, I was learning about the monsters, magic, and deities of Korean myth and starting to build an entire world based on my readings.
Since that time, several years ago at this point, the story has changed a bit, but there is still an artifact of importance. I found a folktale called “Ten Thousand Devils” about a man who has come into the possession of a book that allows him to control demons, which in Korean folklore are basically the nature spirits of different sicknesses. He shows it to a relative, a wealthy man, who then covets the book for its potential power, but the book’s owner disappears and takes the book with him, safeguarding it from his greedy relative.
This story inspired the artifact that one of my protagonists, Jason Park, ends up being attached to. Like the book’s guardian from “Ten Thousand Devils”, Jason comes into possession of a book that allows him to wield magic, and its powers are passed on only to him. He decides to use it to try and help people. But, like just as in the folktale, there are forces who want the book for themselves.
Jason’s proximity to the book puts him in the sights of the kumiho, who needs to track him down for her employer so that she can further her own aims of becoming human. It also allows him to help a fairy woman he meets who ends up being in trouble with forces that Jason is able to combat with his new found magic. It’s through these two characters that he gets sucked into the adventure and danger of the Spirit World.
Through Jason’s point of view we learn about this magical world through the eyes of someone who has no experience with it or knowledge of how it works. While learning to grapple with this new found secret world, Jason also has to master the book, which can be dangerous for the people around him if he doesn’t learn to properly control its magical powers.
If you want to learn more about Jason Park and his adventures with the kumiho and others, follow this blog and check back next week as I unveil a write-up of the final of the three protagonists in the story.