UW student, author shares debut novel for Visiting Writers Series

Zoe Hana Mikuta explores themes of diversity, inclusivity, LGBTQ themes; ‘Gearbreakers’ inspired by film ‘Pacific Rim’



Writer Zoe Hana Mikuta addresses a crowd during a WSU Visiting Writers Series event on Wednesday, Sept. 22 at the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center.

ALEX MCCOLLUM, Multimedia editor

For Zoe Hana Mikuta, writing is the art form she has always gotten the biggest kick out of.

Mikuta, author of young adult novel “Gearbreakers” and junior at University of Washington, is the latest speaker in the WSU Visiting Writers Series. Adam Sindac, Visiting Writers Series intern, introduced Mikuta Wednesday night at the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center.

Mikuta takes a brave route in “Gearbreakers” by exploring themes of diversity, inclusivity and LGBTQ themes, Sindac said.

This was Mikuta’s first public reading event, and she said she was excited to be at WSU.

“I’m pretty sure our schools are rivals, but I have no school spirit, so who knows. I just know it’s awesome to be here,” Mikuta said.

Mikuta began her speech by reading the first two chapters of “Gearbreakers,” a futuristic sci-fi novel about mechas, or giant robots, and two characters fighting on opposite sides of a war.

The first two chapters are written from the first-person perspective of Stona Steelcrest and are filled with colorful and descriptive language.

“My name is Stona Steelcrest. I am still human … I am here to destroy them all,” reads one line in the novel.

The reading was followed by a question and answer session with members of the audience.

While going into the writing process for the novel, Mikuta said she knew she wanted to write about mechas. One of her biggest inspirations in writing “Gearbreakers” was the film “Pacific Rim.”

“I know every line from that movie,” Mikuta said.

She said her favorite thing about the writing process is that she has the creative freedom to develop her own stories the way she wants. 

“I’ve worked really hard with my career where I don’t really want to budge on my creative freedom in it,” Mikuta said.

Building worlds from a sandbox is one of the things she enjoys most, she said. When working on “Gearbreakers,” she wanted a classic sci-fi setting and a classic sci-fi city. The world she developed contains the badlands and a sleek black metropolis set in a post-nuclear war distant future.

Mikuta developed her love for writing through reading. She has been an avid reader since she was little, and she has always enjoyed writing. Mikuta said she used to tell herself bedtime stories as a child.

“It was always the art I got the biggest kick out of, I just have so much fun doing it,” Mikuta said.

She said she wrote the first draft of “Gearbreakers” at age 17 and later secured a two-book deal shortly after turning 19.

Mikuta is studying creative writing at UW and minors in the history of religion, she said. Her biggest literary inspirations are V.E. Schwab, Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Rick Riordan, she said.

“Godslayers,” the sequel to “Gearbreakers,” will be released on June 28, 2022, Mikuta said.

Haki R. Madhubuti is the next guest speaker in the Visiting Writers Series and will speak at 6 p.m. Oct. 5 on YouTube Live.