PARIS - Larry Ivkovich, "The Sixth Precept" author, Weirton native and Robinson Township resident, will speak at a Coffee With the Author event at noon Wednesday at Paris Presbyterian Church's The Gathering Place Coffee Shop located at 127 Steubenville Pike.
"The Sixth Precept" is an urban fantasy that follows Lt. Kim Yoshima as she time-travels between modern Pittsburgh, where she is a member of the police department, and 16th century Japan, where she has an unusual connection to an ancestor.
Ivkovich first became interested in Japanese history after seeing the television miniseries "Shogun," starring Richard Chamberlain and based on the book written by James Clavell. He did extensive research on Japanese history and mythology while writing "The Sixth Precept."
FEATURED SPEAKER — Larry Ivkovich, “The Sixth Precept” author, right, will be the featured speaker at a Coffee With the Author event at noon Wednesday at Paris Presbyterian Church’s The Gathering Place Coffee Shop located at 127 Steubenville Pike. The literary discussions are organized by Outreach Director Margie Zellars. -- Summer Wallace-Minger
"It sparked my interest in the samurai time period," he said. "I read a lot of books - really anything written about it. I also read a lot of novels based on the period. I did have to take some artistic license."
Urban fantasy blend contemporary settings with mythological monsters, and Ivkovich uses many uniquely Japanese mythological beings from a "possessed dish rag" to a "sentient umbrella."
"I did have to do a lot of research, and it was very interesting," said Ivkovich. "I was going to have a character be a geisha, but medieval Japan didn't have geishas - they didn't have geishas until the 1800s, but I discovered the shirabyoshi, which was the precursor to the geisha in that they were women specializing in entertaining and the arts."
"Butt-kicking heroines" are a staple of urban fantasy, and Ivkovich said he had no difficulty writing a strong, modern woman.
"Some men write a man's version of what a woman should be like, and I didn't want to repeat that mistake," he said.
Kim also is the subject of Ivkovich's short story, "A Concerned Citizen," available at ifwgpublishing.com. He plans to write more novels featuring Kim.
"This is her first adventure," he said. "I'm finishing up the second book now."
There will a third book following Kim and possibly a fourth, he said. Kim is joined by the comic book-inspired detective Wayne Brewster, a nod to Ivkovich's childhood love of comic books.
Ivkovich began his writing career by writing and illustrating comic books featuring the adventures of his neighborhood friends and later attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh as an art student, inspired by his love of comic book art.
"What I discovered was I loved to tell stories," he said.
He also has written a book, "Reunion at Olan," which features characters inspired by comic book heroes.
Ivkovich waited until he was in his 30s before he became a full-fledged writer.
"It started with reading a book, and I said, 'you know, I think I could do this,'" he said.
He joined a writers group and began writing, but it was several years before he began publishing short stories - he has published approximately 20. He was a L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest finalist and received the Rannu Fund Award for fiction. He is a member of Pittsburgh Southwrites and Pennwriters.
Ivkovich also has written "Magus Star Rising," a science fiction novel that also will be published by IFWG Publishing. Ivkovich also has a full-length fantasy novel, "Blood of the Daxas" with Assent Publishing.
He is married to Martha Swiss, a master gardener working on the Pittsburgh Botanical Garden project at Settler's Cabin. She's written several articles and columns on gardening for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pennsylvania Magazine and is planning a "how-to" book on gardening.
Like Ivkovich's Facebook page at Facebook.com/larry.ivkovichauthor, follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/LarryIvkovich, visit his blog at larryivkovichauthor.wordpress.com or his website at inkfish1.wix.com/larryivkovichauthor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Wallace-Minger can be contacted at email@example.com)