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Why I’m self-publishing: Takeshita Demons 4 has risen from the dead

Takeshita Demons 4


Takeshita Demons has a long history for me…

The books helped me get a start in publishing, introduced me to thousands of fabulous people, gave me the opportunity to present at local and international writing festivals, and encouraged me to keep writing.

From Takeshita Demons 1, 2 and 3…

Takeshita Demons 4 was never meant to happen.

After I won the Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award, I pitched Takeshita Demons as a trilogy, and my new publisher, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, accepted.

Woo hoo! My journey into book publishing began.

“Any chance of a book 4?”

When Book 1 came out, great things happened, more than I could ever have expected.

Book 2 and Book 3 followed in successive years and my publishers wanted more: “Any chance of a book 4?”

Under the sea!

Well, after years of writing about Miku Takeshita and her pals, I was thrilled to join them on another adventure.

Japan, being an island, has a lot of awesome aquatic monsters, I decided my heroes would journey under the sea.

After researching and writing the book for a year, I sent it off, hoping my publishers loved it as much as I did… The response was quick and positive…They did love it! Hooray! All systems were go to see Takeshita Demons 4 out in shops.

Then, disaster!

Frances Lincoln were bought out by a larger printing house, and a few months later their entire middle grade and YA lines were cutMer-Monster was left without a home. (But I got to keep the advance…YAY!)

What to do?

Here I had a great manuscript just sitting on my computer. What to do? I figured the answer was to self-publish, as simply as possible, to make the story available, as cheaply as possible.

Tanoshinde kudasai: Please enjoy

Takeshita Demons 4 doesn’t have the great cover design of the first three books (the first three were done by Siku), and you can’t buy it in shops, but you can grab it for cheap-as-chips off or so you can read it on your computer, or phone, or download a free Kindle-reader app and read it on your laptop, or print it out, colour it in and call it a book. It’s up to you.

Happy reading!

I really hope you enjoy MerMonster. If even one fan gets a kick out of reading it, I’ll be happy. 🙂

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Things that go bump in the night…Words Go Round at UWCSEA, Singapore

Hello everyone from UWCSEA!

Are you cleaning your bathrooms? Are you taking care of your umbrella? Are you reading late at night, all alone under the covers, listening to your house creak and leaves rustle and creatures move…?

Are you writing some spooky stories to scare your friends (and me!)?

Thanks for a great day at your ENORMOUS school…I nearly got lost in the swimming pool!

Happy writing!


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My top five mythical creatures: Japanese yokai I adore

Japanese mythical creatures

Discover more Japanese monsters here…

What are your top five mythical creatures? I outline my Big 5 for superb Kiwi book blog, My Best Friends Are Books.

So, what are my Top Five???

I love monsters, mythical creatures, spooky feelings and freaky things that go bump in the night. Woah. I get shivers just thinking about them.

My Takeshita Demons books are overflowing with spooky monsters and demons from Japanese folklore, called yōkai. Anyone who’s heard of Pokemon or Yokai-attack, played with Yu-Gi-Oh, read manga or even bought a lotto ticket has probably encountered a yōkai. (Remember that lucky cat with the beckoning paw?) There are hundreds of yōkai and they’ve been popular in Japan for hundreds of years. Some are hugely famous, like the nine-tailed fox or the shape-shifting tanuki, but others are obscure and strange. My books feature lots of different demons, but here are my top five from the series so far:

1. Akaname (The Filth Licker) 垢嘗

The demon you really want for a friend. He’s loyal and funny and he loves to clean, so you don’t have to. In traditional tales, he comes out at night to lick dirty bathrooms till they sparkle… In my books, he also cleans laundries, kitchens, dirty faces, you name it. Plus his super-sensitive tongue can taste out clues. He’s like a detective in a frog’s skin.

2. Sagari (Hanging horse-head) 下がり

This demon gets a prize for Weird Monster of the Year: It’s basically a horse’s head that floats around upside-down, has electric nose hairs, sharp teeth, and a habit of dropping on you unexpectedly. St-range! And dangerous!

3. Kodama (Tree spirit) 木魂

I love big, old trees, and in Japanese culture, these ancient trees are often home to kodama (, spirits who mimic the sounds of the forest and cause echoes to bounce through the woods. A kodama’s tree trunk is tied with a sacred rope, called a shimenawa. If you cut down such a tree, you’re in for some very bad luck.

4. Noppera-bō (Faceless ghost) のっぺら坊

This shape-shifting yōkai can wipe features from its face like words from a whiteboard. The noppera-bō can take the shape of any person: it could be your best friend, your mum, your teacher… There’s no way to tell unless you look in a mirror: a noppera-bō’s reflection will have no face! So, is the person sitting next to you really who you think they are?

5. Betobeto-san (Mr Footsteps) べとべとさん

Almost everyone has had the feeling they’re being followed. Well, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is…you ARE being followed. The good news is, you’re being followed by Betobeto-san, a sort of oversized, invisible marshmallow on legs. He eats the sound of your footsteps, but don’t worry: he’s quite shy and not at all dangerous (unless you’re allergic to marshmallows?).

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Yokai featured in Monster Matsuri

Watch out adventure lovers! Takeshita Demons 3, Monster Matsuri, is out!!

I’ve blogged before on yokai demons featured in book one  and book two of the Takeshita Demons series, so…who should we look out for in Monster Matsuri?

Yokai featured in Takeshita Demons: Monster Matsuri

Akaname (Filth Licker) 垢嘗
Great news: if you don’t clean your bathroom, the akaname will. He has frog-like skin, a long hairy tongue, and a fondness for slime, mould and rot. He likes to lick grimy bathrooms until they sparkle.

Ama-no-jyaku  (Demon of Heaven) 天邪鬼
This tiny ogre loves confusion and hate, and he’ll go out of his way to create it.  He can read your deepest desires and will twist his words to lead you in the opposite direction to that which you desire.

Boroboro-ton (Battered futon) 暮露々々団
Remember that old quilt you’ve had for years and never washed? Well, by now it could be haunted. If it shuffles around the room by itself, watch out: the only cure is a good wash and full sun to dry.

Harionago (Barbed woman) 針女子
She’s beautiful and she loves to laugh, but her hair has a mind of its own. Each strand is tipped with a deadly barb and can reach through the air to capture its prey.

Hitodama (Human souls) 人魂
When a person dies, their spirit can soar to the sky in the form of a fireball. Eventually, when the fireball falls back to earth, it splatters everything in slime. The fireballs can be orange or blue or white and often appear just before a sick person dies.

Kara-kasa (Paper umbrella) 唐傘
Make sure you are kind to your umbrella! If you’re not, it could turn into a kara-kasa and hop around your house all day on its hairy leg. Umbrellas love to blow raspberries.

Kitsune (Fox) 狐
Young kitsune look like ordinary foxes, but the older they are, the more tails they grow, and the more powerful they become. When they have lived for a hundred years, they can change shape, even into human form. White foxes are linked to Inari, the god of rice. The fox’s favourite food is fried tofu.

Mokumokuren (Connected eyes) 目々連
Even walls can have eyes! Battered Japanese shōji (paper sliding walls) can be haunted by dozens of eyeballs. Don’t stare at them for too long: you can go blind.

Nukekubi (Cut-throat) 抜首
During the day you might mistake this yōkai for a normal person, but be warned. At night, while its body is sleeping, its head can detach and fly around hunting for delicious things to eat (like children and puppy dogs).

Nurarihyon (Slippery strange) ぬらりひょん
He’s bald, he likes to drink tea, and his head is enormous. Said to be the Leader of all yōkai, Nurarihyon can summon shockwaves of power with a flick of his fingers.

Nurikabe (Plastered wall) ぬりかべ
An invisible wall that blocks the path of those who approach it. If you try to walk around it, you’ll be walking a long time: the wall can extend forever.

Tsukumogami (Lost thing) 付喪神
Ever do a big clean and toss out all the things you no longer want? Beware! In a hundred years, they might spring up to seek their revenge. Tools, clothing, weapons, furniture…You name it, they can become tsukumogami.

Sagari (Hanging horse-head) 下がり
With sharp teeth and bloodshot eyes, this bizarre yōkai is a horse’s head that hangs upside-down like a bat. Usually found in trees, sagari love to drop on you unexpectedly.

Satori (Mind reader) 覚
He looks like a monkey, he smells like a monkey, and he eats like a monkey. But he can also read your thoughts.

Uwan (Disembodied voice) うわん
Usually nothing more than a sound, the uwan can be heard from inside an old building, but not from outside.

Yuki-onna (Snow Woman) 雪女
Tall, pale and icily beautiful, this yōkai is a spirit of the snow. She leaves no footprints, preferring to float above the ground, and she can disappear in a puff of cold mist.

Zashiki-warashi (House ghost) 座敷童
This mischievous yōkai haunts houses and usually appears in the shape of a child. If your house is haunted by a zashiki-warashi, count yourself lucky, but don’t forget to take good care of it. If your house ghost ever chooses to leave you, your luck will quickly end.

Do you have a favourite yōkai? If so, let me know…

Cheers and scary reading!


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Yokai featured in The Filth Licker

Cover for Takeshita Demons: The Filth LickerWoo hoo! Book three, Monster Matsuri, is out!!

Which reminds me…I’ve blogged before on yokai demons featured in book one of the Takeshita Demons series, but what about the others?

Let’s start with book two

With a name like The Filth Licker, you’ve got to expect at least one akaname to make an appearance. (And you’d be right! :-))

But who else is there?

Yokai featured in Takeshita Demons: The Filth Licker

Akaname (Filth Licker) 垢嘗
Great news: if you don’t clean your bathroom, the akaname will. He has frog-like skin, a long hairy tongue, and a fondness for slime, mould and rot. He likes to lick grimy bathrooms until they sparkle.

Ashi-magari (Leg turner) 足曲がり
The ashi-magari is a mischievous spirit that comes out at night to trip you up and slow you down. You might feel it winding around your ankles, or tugging at your legs, like the tail of an invisible animal.

Betobeto-san (Mr Footsteps) べとべとさん
Ever had the feeling that someone was following you? Or have you heard footsteps but turned around to see noone was there? Perhaps it was Betobeto-san, trying to get past you. He’s quite shy, so try standing to the side of the road and inviting him to go ahead.

Hitodama (Human souls) 人魂
If a person dies, their spirit can soar to the sky in the form of a fireball. When the fireball falls back to earth, it splatters everything in slime. Hitodama can be orange or blue or white, and often appear just before a sick person passes away.

Kama itachi (Sickle Weasels) 鎌鼬
Whirling with the winds and slicing through the night, the Sickle Weasels work in teams of three to slash at their enemies using long sickle blades that extend from their paws.

Keukegen (Fluffy Thing) 毛羽毛現
Small and fluffy doesn’t always equal cute and friendly. A keukegen looks like a small, furry dog, but it spreads disease and prefers to live in dark, damp places. When written with different characters, keukegen can also mean “an unusual thing that is rarely seen” (希有怪訝).

Kitsune (Fox)
Young kitsune look like ordinary foxes, but the older they are, the more tails they grow, and the more powerful they become. When they have lived for a hundred years, they can change shape, even into human form. White foxes are linked to Inari, the god of rice. The fox’s favourite food is fried tofu.

Kodama (Tree Spirit) 木魂
Kodama live inside ancient trees, mimicking the sounds of the forest and causing echoes to bounce through the woods. Their trees are often ringed with a sacred rope called a shimenawa. If you cut down a kodama’s tree, you’re in for some very bad luck.

Oni (Ogre)
Oni are famous for their mean looks and nasty personalities. They have bad hair, poor dress sense and spiky horns. And they like to eat people, which makes them very unpopular.

Satori (literally: Consciousness)
He looks like a monkey, he smells like a monkey, and he eats like a monkey. But he can also read your thoughts. The satori prefers to live in the mountains and can only be conquered if you empty your mind.

Suna-kake-baba (Sand-throwing woman) 砂かけ婆
Living high in the treetops of a lonely forest, the suna-kake-baba is a grumpy old lady who sprinkles sand on people as they walk by underneath.

Tofu kozo (Tofu monk) 豆腐小僧
Beware, hungry traveler: The tofu kozo is a young monk who wanders quiet country roads carrying a plate of fresh tofu. Although it looks delicious, often garnished with a maple leaf, the tofu is cursed, and those who eat it will start to rot.

Yamabiko (Ghostly valley echo) 幽谷響
Don’t you hate it when someone echoes everything you say? Don’t you hate it when someone echoes everything you say? That’s exactly what the yamabiko does. It lives in the mountains and pretends to be a real echo. Not very helpful. Not very helpful.

Stay posted for a sneak preview of the yokai featured in Monster Matsuri

Cheers and scary reading!


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Takeshita Demons: Monster Matsuri hits the streets (and reveals a few secrets)(if you can find the clues)

ImageMonsterous birthday to you!

Monsterous birthday to you!

Monsterous birthday to you-oooo

Hooray! My third book, Monster Matsuri, is out in the UK!

Wheee! I’m so excited. It’s pretty awesome to see all three books lined up. Plus Monster Matsuri was so much fun to write.

Monster What?
Monster Matsuri: It means Monster Festival in Japanese, and if you’re about 8 to 12 years old and like adventure, suspense (and a whole stack of spooky Japanese ogres, ghosts, demons and mythical creatures), then you should totally buy Monster Matsuri for your friend and then borrow it from them after.

The clues are piling up…
A lot of fans have a lot of questions about Miku and her family ghosts, and in Monster Matsuri, at last, I think I might have revealed enough clues for you to figure out some answers.
Why are the demons hunting Miku? What makes her family so special? What secrets have yet to be revealed?

And for buffs of Japanese history and mythology…
I’ve borrowed heavily from Japanese myths and legends in writing this book. I’m expecting you guys to be first to figure out which stories I’ve used, which legends I’ve twisted, and what secrets the Takeshita family might be hiding…

Want more? LIKE Monster Matsuri on Facebook to hear all the latest news, see cover roughs, inspirations, reviews and more.

Monsterous birthday to you!

Monsterous birthday to you!

Monsterous birthday to you-oooo

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8 body parts you will want for your own: Super Cool Japanese demon anatomy

Want some super-human anatomy?

Super-strength and super-speed are so passé. What you need are some Super Cool bits of Japanese demon anatomy.

Check these out:

1)     SKIN: Ushi oni (Cow demon)
牛鬼 (

A nasty yokai who loves sinking ships and eating fishermen, the ushi-oni (also known as gyuuki) lives in the ocean.

He has many awesome body parts: claws like elephant tusks, muscles that never get tired, eyes that can see for miles…

But his Super Cool feature is his skin: when he’s swimming, his skin stretches out to form individual fins and flaps that help him to shoot through the water at top speed.

2)     STOMACH: Umi nyōbō (Wife of the sea)

A dedicated wife, the umi nyubou spends much of her time preparing pickled fish (for her children to eat) or gathering sea snake venom (to protect her family from attack by humans).

She has a Super Cool digestive system, with three stomachs: one for her, one for her husband, and one for her children.

She uses the stomachs like cupboards, storing different food for different people. How convenient!

3)     NOSE: Sagari (Hanging horse-head)
下がり (

Horse heads that hang upside-down like bats, sagari are said to be the ghosts of horses that died near trees.

They eat human blood, and can sense human auras using their Super Cool nose hairs.

These moustache-like tentacles can move independently and have also been known to shoot electricity like lightning.

4)     TAIL: Nobusuma (Flying squirrel)

A fire-breathing, clairvoyant squirrel, the nobusuma has sharp black teeth and spiky claws.

Able to fly, although it has no wings, the nobusuma can blow its body up like a helium balloon, but the power for lift-off comes from his Super Cool tail.

By slamming his tail onto the ground, the nobusuma can launch his body into the air. Newton’s Third Law of Motion in action!

5)     FINGERNAILS: Kokuri-babā (Hag of the Old Priest’s Quarters)

The kokuri-babā lives alone in an old temple and wears a white kimono made of hair.

She may look like a frail, old woman, but when she’s hungry, her Super Cool fingernails become as strong as pickaxes, allowing her to rip into old graves to find dead things to eat.

6)     TEETH: Gangi kozō (Zig-zag boy)
岸涯小僧 (

Zig-zag boy is an amphibian yokai who lives in rivers, surviving on raw fish. He has no friends and no family, but he does have one redeeming feature: his Super Cool teeth.

Incredibly pointy and stronger than steel, Zig-zag boy’s teeth allow him to rip into raw fish, tearing them apart. If he loses a tooth, another will grow back right where he needs it.

7)     LUNGS: Dorotabou (Rice paddy zombie)
泥田坊 (

The tortured ghost of a farmer who lost his land, the dorotabou rises from the mud to haunt his old fields.

Surviving on leaves, leeches and frogs, this mud-dwelling yokai has Super Cool lungs that allow him to breathe even when submerged in mud.

8)     EARS: Suiko (Water tiger)

A blood-sucking kappa with the fangs, claws and power of a tiger, the suiko lives in fast flowing rivers. He is an accomplished killer, but also has a softer side: the suiko likes to sunbathe, and he likes to chat.

His Super Cool ear is divided into three parts, allowing him to understand Bird Talk, Fish Talk and Human Talk as well as his native Yokai Talk.

Thanks to manga and yokai legend Shigeru Mizuki and his awesome reference Yōkai Daizukai for the inspiration.

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8 spooky Japanese language proverbs

I’m busy writing Takeshita Demons 4 and preparing for Childrens Book Week…YAY!

To make sure everything goes according to plan, I’m watching out for black cats, and not walking under ladders.

I wonder about these Japanese superstitions though…
What do you think?

1) If you give a boy’s name to a girl, or a girl’s name to a boy, they will grow up healthy and strong
You may wonder why your parents gave you such a weird name. Well, maybe this is the reason? Switching boys’ and girls’ names is a way to confuse (and hopefully avoid) the demons who bring disease and bad luck.

Lined sole fish

2) If you scowl at your parents, you will turn into a sole fish.
You know the old saying “If you make a face, the wind will change and you’ll be stuck that way”? Well, this is the Japanese equivalent. Basically, it’s a warning to be nice to your mum and dad. Because if you don’t, you’ll turn into a flat fish with both eyes on one side of your face. (Don’t worry: you will still taste good served with chips!)

3) When a weasel cuts across your path, he will bewitch you if you don’t throw a stone at him.
In Japanese culture, animals like weasels, foxes and badgers are known to have magical powers over humans, including the ability to shape-change, and they love to trick you out of your money. Throwing a stone is a quick, easy way to make sure you stay safe.

4) If you put spit in your eyebrows, the fox will not bewitch you.
Here’s another simple way to stay safe from demon foxes: simply spit into your own eyebrows and mix well. (This belief comes from the idea that saliva is powerful and can help your eyes to see the truth behind magical  spells)

5) If you kill a cat, it will haunt you and your family for seven generations.
Yikes! Better be nice to your cat! In Japan, cats who grow very fat and very old are also thought to turn into giant, man-eating cat demons. So your only hope for survival is to own a dog instead. :-)

6) If your sandal strap breaks, evil is heading your way
This is a great reason to check your shoes and shoelaces before you head out on a dangerous Takeshita Demons covermission. (If you’ve read The Filth Licker, you now know the secret double meaning behind Cait’s broken shoelace…)

7) If you pick up a comb, you will pick up suffering.
This superstition comes about because the Japanese word for comb is “kushi”, which is made up of two sounds: “ku” (the Japanese word for “suffering”), and “shi” (the Japanese word for “death”). So, instead of bending straight down to pick up your dropped comb, it’s better to stand on it first. Standing on the dropped comb drives out any evil spirits that are in it, making it safe to pick up. Phew!

8 ) A person who uses red things will only suffer a light case of smallpox
This proverb was around before the smallpox disease was eradicated thanks to vaccination, but it shows clearly that red was a colour of protection in Japan. Why red? It’s the colour of flushed, healthy cheeks. It’s the colour of warmth and cheerfulness. And it’s also the colour that many sick people wore in old Japan, to protect themselves from disease. (Red is also the colour of the first Takeshita Demons book…no coincidence there! Miku needs all the help she can get!)

Check out this 8 spooky Japanese proverbs post at the Christchurch Kids Blog 🙂

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Quick quiz: Is your persimmon haunted?

persimmon monster - tankororin

The tankororin, about to drop from its tree...

Ever thought you might like to munch a chocolate bar instead of an apple? Prefer to eat banana cake and not bananas?

Well, you’re probably wise.

Fruit can be dangerous for your health!

Take the persimmon, for example. Persimmons are shiny orange fruit full of vitamin C and calcium and iron and lots of other stuff you need to stay healthy.

But how do you get all these healthy things?

You have to EAT the persimmon! And let me tell you, that’s not something I’d recommend.

Meet the tankororin: the Ripe Persimmon Monster.

The tankororin begins its life as an ordinary persimmon, but once it grows to a certain size on the persimmon tree, it jumps down, grows a human face and trots around on giant legs. Not what I’d like to find when I open my lunchbox!

Luckily, it’s easy to tell if your persimmon is becoming a tankororin monster. Try this quick quiz, for your own safety:


Q1)      Does your persimmon have big, bulging eyes?

Yes:  Go to Q2

No:  Go to Q3

Q2)      Does your persimmon have a runny nose?

Yes:  Go to Q3 (and don’t worry…that’s not snot dribbling from your persimmon’s nose: it’s persimmon juice).

No:  Go to Q4

Q3)      Does your persimmon like to take long walks at night?

Yes:  Go to Q4

No:  Go to Q6

Q4)      Does your persimmon like to drop on people from above?

Yes:  Go to Q5

No:  Go to Q6

Q5)    Oh dear! I’m sorry to say that your persimmon is already haunted. Your only hope is to find a large Tupperware container, stick the persimmon inside and put the lid on tight. Then, stick the container in the freezer for a week. Your persimmon will freeze rock hard, then turn to sticky mush when it thaws. Safe!

Q6)    Congratulations! Your persimmon is probably safe to eat. Take a big bite. You see all those seeds? They grow into the persimmon monster’s brains and they’re tasty-tasty. Yum! Eat them while you can.

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Guest blogging for the Christchurch Kids Blog…all this month

Want to discover some new Japanese demons and monsters?

Want to hear about some spooky Japanese superstitions and proverbs?

Want to win a copy of Takeshita Demons?

All this month I’m blogging as a Star Author for the Christchurch Kids Blog

I’ll cover all the above topics and more, so head on over and join in the fun.

And in more exciting news…

I’m working on Takeshita Demons 4 – working title: MER-MONSTER!!! It’s going really well and I’m excited! Woo hoo!