Toru: Wayfarer Returns by Stephanie R. Sorensen

Today I’m hosting Stephanie R. Sorensen and her historical steampunk, Toru: Wayfarer Returns. Stephanie is giving away a $50 Amazon/B&N gift card. So make sure to comment, check out the other stops on the tour, and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! Stephanie is also here today to give us an interview!

Enter to win a $50 Amazon/B&N gift card

Leave a comment and check out the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!


Do you ever wish you were someone else? Who?

As a writer, I spend a great deal of time imagining myself as someone else. Many someone elses! I enjoy getting inside the heads of my characters and imagining their interactions and feelings. One of the main delights in both writing and reading for me is being someone else for a while. For example, I’ve always wanted to go into space, but I’m exceedingly nearsighted and not the most athletic pencil in the box, so that dream goes into the “Highly Unlikely” category. Flying all the way to Mars in such a realistic way was marvelous, thanks to author Andrew Weir through his protagonist in “The Martian,” all without actual risk of death.

However, I’ve never wanted to be someone else permanently. In fact, my very first essay, written in first grade as a sentence completion exercise, consisted of the following: “When I grow up, I want to be me.” I can still remember gravely pondering other options, along with various career paths and identities, and rejecting them all in favor of essential me-ness. I did want to be an elf, but my elders explained that was not an option.

What did you do on your last birthday?

My husband and I drove 500 miles each way to pick up a puppy. She was my birthday present. A little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a ruby and white Blenheim. She is outgoing and energetic and loves demanding attention during writing sessions. She also enjoys hunting butterflies.

What part of the writing process do you dread?

That point about two thirds of the way through the first draft. You are out in the middle of the rushing river of writing with the rope of the core story line held between your teeth, swimming like crazy to reach the opposite shore and the dry land of a first draft. But you are weary, and the finish line is still far away, and the idea that seemed so great when you started is now the stupidest idea a human brain ever invented. All comfort (“You can fix it on the re-write!”) seems hollow and empty and you are possessed by overwhelming urges to caulk the cracks on your unreachable second story window frames or take up the study of Tibetan. It is misery.

My husband is a recording engineer, and he finds that same moment with his rock bands when they come up to track their albums. They lay down rough cuts of each song, which is fun and lively, but then they have to go in and repeat recordings until they have a really strong performance of each song so they can move on to the mix stage. (“Editing” for music.) At some point, they are sick of all their songs, hate their album and just want to be done, but they are not done. He tells them, “You wanted to swim the English Channel, and you trained and prepared and now you are in the water, two thirds of the way across. You cannot give up now. Keep going. France is out there. Now play it again.”

So I guess it is a universal point in the creative process. I just mutter to myself, “France is out there. Keep writing.” I get a lot of laundry and dusting done until I can summon the courage to start up again.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

I don’t suffer from writer’s block exactly, but I do suffer from a busy life and lots of people who want me to do things with them and for them. I like them, and theoretically want to be a good person who helps others, but I get filled with purple rage when I’ve planned a writing day and something comes up. I’m getting better at defending my time, but I can lose whole days because someone interrupted me or wanted a meeting in the middle of a planned writing session. It’s not really writer’s block, for if I know I have an uninterrupted patch of time ahead of me, the writing usually flows pretty well, but if I know I will be disturbed, I cannot get down to work. I need to solve this so I can use smaller chunks of time to write, but for the moment it’s a real problem for me.

Tell us about your latest release.

“Tōru: Wayfarer Returns” is a story about a young man in 1850s Japan who wants to save his country from encroaching Western powers. It’s got a lot of real Japanese history and culture and figures in it, but it’s an alternate history flavored with hints of steampunk and a sweet romance. Basically revolutionary samurai with dirigibles take on foreign invaders. I love Japan and lived there for several years, so the story is a way of sharing that experience with others, wrapped up in an adventure story. It’s more New Adult or Adult than teen YA. The story and characters are pretty upbeat and earnest, so not a good fit for fans of dark dystopias, horror, erotica or violent action-adventure. Historical fiction and historical fantasy fans interested in Japan enjoy it quite a bit.

Thanks for the interview, Stephanie!

A nation encircled by enemies

A noblewoman with everything to lose

A fisherman with everything to prove and a nation to save.

In Japan of 1852, the peace imposed by the Tokugawa Shoguns has lasted 250 years. Peace has turned to stagnation, however, as commoners grow impoverished and their lords restless. Swords rust. Martial values decay. Foreign barbarians circle the island nation’s closed borders like vultures.

Tōru, a shipwrecked young fisherman rescued by traders and taken to America, defies the Shogun’s ban on returning to Japan, determined to save his homeland from foreign invasion. Can he rouse his countrymen in time? Or will the cruel Shogun carry out his vow to execute all who set foot in Japan after traveling abroad? Armed only with his will, a few books, dirigible plans and dangerous ideas, Tōru must transform the Emperor’s realm before the Black Ships come.

Recognition for “Toru: Wayfarer Returns”
— Finalist, Fantasy category, 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
— Bronze Medal Award, Multicultural Fiction category, 2016 eLit Book Awards

Kirkus review:
Historical Novel Society review:


“Rather than argue with them, you should invite them to make the first flight with you,” said Takamori. “At first they will agree, since it is their place as the leaders. Everyone is very excited about the dirigibles. Set the time and place for the first flight. Jiro should explain that is not a good time because of the wind or something technical that needs testing first. You argue with Jiro and perhaps even scold him for impertinence in front of the daimyōs.”

“Yes, I am often scolded for impertinence,” said Jiro. “I have a talent for it, you know.”

“Indeed you do,” said Tōru. He saw where Takamori was going. “Then they notice the risks and uncertainties…and they ask me if it is safe. I tell them honestly that we have no idea if it is safe or if it will work, and that we might all crash to a fiery death and therefore perhaps I should test it first myself before we endanger them.”

“And I will be impertinent again and tell you in front of them that you don’t have a clue how to fly one of these dirijibi!” Jiro finished the plan for them. “Which is also true, by the way. I know how to fly one of these, and you don’t.”

“You’ve never flown one either,” protested Tōru.

“I have built one. Almost. Soon. How many have you built?” asked Jiro, with his broad grin.

Tōru opened his mouth and closed it again.

“See? Problem solved,” said Takamori, as he pounded Tōru on the back. “We have a fine dirijibi pilot, the finest dirijibi pilot in all of Japan, our good man Jiro here.”



Stephanie is a writer based in the Victorian mining town of Leadville, Colorado, where she lives at 10,251 feet with her husband, five chickens, two bantam English game hens and one Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. After a former life in big cities-New York City, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Boston, Mexico City, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Santa Fe-she now enjoys the birdsong and quiet writing time she finds in Leadville. Her first novel draws on her experience living and working in Japan; her next historical novel is set in Mexico where she also lived for several years. As a Leadville local, she likes her Victorian attire spiced with a little neo-Victorian futurism and the biggest bustle possible.


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Enter to win a $50 Amazon/B&N gift card

Leave a comment and visit the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!

Author: Megan Morgan

Paranormal and contemporary romance author.

13 thoughts

  1. Hey everyone,

    Just wanted to let you know I’m putting “Toru” on a $0.99 price promotion through the end of my book tour, so pop over to Amazon and snag your copy now. I am working on getting the price dropped on Nook, Kobo and iBooks as well. I hope you’ll read it, and if you like it, post a review!



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