Latika is a Wellington writer whose stories have been well received in anthologies, literary journals and on national radio. She is currently working towards her first collection. I was intrigued reading Latika's slightly peculiar love story by a protagonist both bold and ingenuous.
The girl walking down the street wore a short but voluminous pink gingham and lace skirt, a fluffy white hat in the shape of teddy bear ears, white stockings and enormous platform shoes. Tokyo street fashion is a style I have always admired for its originality and playfulness – but no, she was not Japanese. I pointed her out to my teenage son. I thought she looked cool. He shrugged: ‘Ah, another Wapanese girl.’ I had never heard the term. I googled and found it describes a person of non-Japanese descent (usually white, hence the contraction) who is obsessed with Japanese things.
While I am definitely not ‘Wapanese’, I do have a fascination with Japan and admit I indulge in their love of the cute and kitsch – even possessing some Hello Kitty merchandise and little Kimmi dolls. The story I’ve written that’s appearing in Slightly Peculiar Love Stories has many Japanese references. Part of the appeal of writing fiction for me is the joy of transporting oneself into different characters and worlds, all while sitting at one’s desk. In writing this story I briefly immersed myself in a fantasy visit. Several years ago I did visit Japan and it was fabulous but the trip was with my family, not with a shadowy mysterious stranger.