With us today is Ikuko Takenokawa from At Yomi’s Gate. Thank you for joining us, Ikuko Takenokawa. Tell us, do you have any family? If so, what’s your family like?

My late mother and father taught me everything I know about communicating with spirits and yokai. It was a lot to take in, certainly. But they were both very patient. Well, my father was. But then, he’d been raised to be a priest. He was a quiet, peaceful man. But I could always tell there was something hiding behind that smile he put on. Something awful happened to him, but I think it made him kinder as a result, you know? More compassionate to make up for… whatever he saw.

Mother could get frustrated sometimes, but being a spirit medium was never her chosen path in life. She’d prided herself on being an expert swordswoman before the accident broke her back. But I think she learned to accept her new path in the end.

What about your siblings? Do you get along?

*chews her lip* I have several sisters… though I haven’t seen them in years. Well, I mean- I see them every time I try to channel the underworld. Can’t really even keep them away. But it’s been a while since I’ve spent much time with them. I suppose they just miss me. But it’s hard to do my job when they try to drag me into Yomi every single time we meet.

My sister Aoi isn’t so bad, though. I’ve been seeing a lot more of her lately. Maybe I’ll help her come through the portal for a visit. Especially since she’s quite fond of my friend, Fumito-san.

*smirks*

He tends to have that effect on women. Even yokai women.

What’s your greatest fear?

I fear the pollution of my soul. I’ve seen what spiritual pollution does.

*looks around anxiously*

Please don’t tell Takashi-san I said that. I know it hurts him to hear me say that. It’s not his fault his family is forced to work with leather and dead bodies. I don’t think he realizes how much all that death infects their souls. They’ve been so good to me and my friends, though…

What do you hate most about yourself?

*tugs a lock of hair over her eye*

I worry that I’m too naive sometimes. I try, you know? Try to be smart about the world. But I spent so much of my life at my parent’s shrine. I didn’t see the outside world until I helped Miss Sakura escape from Lord Kotoheisei.

I also hate being so tall. I’m at least two heads taller than everyone I know. I feel like a monster sometimes.

What is your greatest strength?

*puffs up a little* well, I would say it’s my ability to communicate with the dead and with yokai. People are so afraid of ghosts. But you just need to talk to them, you know? They’re usually just lost and angry. They just need help.

Yokai aren’t so bad, either. I mean, some of them can be dangerous. But if you know how to reason with them, you can usually get them to leave you alone.

Do you have a weakness?

*blushes* Miss Sakura, I suppose. She takes some getting used to, but she’s got a good heart.

Is there something from the past that haunts you, keeps you awake at night?

*looks at the ground a moment* That night when Miss Sakura burned Lord Kotoheisei’s castle. She was so angry. So full of hate and revenge. He’d done so many awful things to her…

I know she didn’t mean to hurt anyone. Besides him. But…So many people died that night.

*looks into the distance for a moment*

I’m sorry. What were we talking about?

It doesn’t matter. What’s your favorite animal and why?

Baku are a delight. They look like- I guess you call them tapir? Yes, like tapir, except they can fly and they’re covered in scales. And they eat dreams.

I also like giant salamanders. We call them Oshanshouo. I used to daydream about riding one when I was a girl.

Thank you for coming Ikuko Takenokawa, that’s all we have time for. Don’t forget to check out Ikuko Takenokawa’s author at http://nocturnalseapress.com/