My plots normally come to me from a discovery. I find it fascinating that some amazing situations can be unknown or strangely secret.

Take for example the DIA. Now it’s easy to guess that the DIA is one secret service along from the CIA and that there may be an EIA, an FIA and a GIA in the top secret spy world of the USA. However ask anyone whether they’ve heard of the DIA and they will say they’ve heard of the NSA, the DEA, the FBI etc but not the American intelligence agency that is as big, in headcount terms, as the CIA. In fact when you mention them, people do not believe such an agency exists; after all everyone knows of Area 42, the real people that shot Kennedy from the grassy knoll and any number of conspiracies generated by the agencies with three letter acronyms, yet no one writes books, TV shows or movies about the DIA. It therefore can’t exist.

Well you can type in www.dia.mil (the .mil is the giveaway that it’s no hoax) and there they are out proud and with a website. The ‘DIA for kids’ sub-site with its hangman game seems to have gone, but there they are; the DIA, an invisible agency no one has heard about or written on. SMERSH has had more coverage.

As far as I’m concerned this is wonderful material. I happened on them working in Virginia, a state which is practically an army town writ large and I still find it amazing that the DIA is still unknown; it’s as if MI9 had never existed.

So the amazing idea behind Kusanagi, is that the Japanese Emperor, and by extension the Japanese state, relies on its Regalia for its legitimacy. This isn’t particularly amazing as Kings and Queens need to be crowned and without plopping a large lump of precious materials on a Prince’s head they don’t get to be the big cheese. All very symbolic of course but then that’s why even modern governments dress up and do elaborate rituals to make themselves seem magical and important. Of course the Japanese are particularly into that kind of thing and no crown jewels means no Emperor; no emperor, no Japan. This would be OK were it not for the fact that the Japanese Royal Regalia went missing six hundred odd years ago. This is a rumour of course, but it is not helped by the fact that the three items that make up the Regalia: the Sword Kusanagi, the sacred mirror and the fabulous jewel of Japan make their appearance at the coronation wrapped in paper. They are too sacred for even the Emperor to set his eyes upon. As the Japanese would say, that smells of oushikuso.

What would happen if someone rediscovered Kusanagi? How much would the real Japanese Royal Regalia be worth and what lengths would some go to get them? What is the secret of the Japanese property mogul and what does he keep in his penthouse zoo? Will our hero from The Armageddon Trade and The Twain Maxim survive the North Korean language teacher smugglers? How do you outrun a typhoon? What will become of a crippled Japanese child?

These are some of the threads in Kusanagi, a thriller like the potentially lethal Fugu sashimi: dangerous, exciting but (hopefully) a lot of fun.

Kusanagi is published by No Exit Press

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