I grew up writing and telling stories. When I was twelve, they were mostly Harry Potter style adventures. Not about wizards, but about average boys with normal fears and abnormal skills who face enemies and dangers best left for Superman to confront. In my early teens they were mostly poetry. Depressing stuff. It was the … Continue reading My First Novel
I am a born story teller. I love to tell stories. That alone, sadly, does not make me a publishable writer. Before I write, I must read. Before I read, I must learn to read. I moved to Scotland when I was eight years old, soon moved to the US, then returned to Japan in … Continue reading Reading in a Second Language
Neil Gaiman advises writers "Laugh at your own jokes". If you understand the gravity of this advice, you have had some experience struggling with writing. I just got back into writing recently at the age of 52 and was shocked at the abundance of writing tips for novelists on the internet. With the arrival of … Continue reading Laugh at Your Own Jokes
Between the years 1639 to 1854, Japan was in what Western historians call "a state of self-imposed isolation". From the Japanese point of view, it was a period when foreigners were not allowed in the country. Subtle difference. One of the main reasons Japan closed its doors to foreign countries was the behavior of Christian missionaries. … Continue reading The Amakusa Rebellion 1637
An experiment reveals that 92.6% of the words in a first draft were redundant.
A man I know, a reputable lawyer in Japan, was renovating his ancestral home when a samurai sword was discovered in the space above the ceiling. Shortly after WWII, when the Americans occupied Japan, samurai swords were banned and the Americans were wantonly confiscating and destroying them. Many precious heirlooms were hidden in walls and … Continue reading The Fate of the Sword
Toshiro Mifune was an aerial photographer for the Japanese Imperial Army, where he saw numerous eighteen-year-old conscripts fly off on kamikaze missions, an experience that gave him a lifelong hatred of the war. Later in his career, when he was typecast as an Imperial military officer, he was asked in an interview what he personally … Continue reading Kurosawa’s Samurais
I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey because it has been reported that the lousy prose is contagious. Zoe Williams of the Guardian wrote in her review of E. L. James’ trilogy “Goddammit. I've been infected by James's ominous, staccato delivery. After 1,600 pages of the stuff, you will too. I'm doing it again. … Continue reading Writing Exercise 1
When the Americans took Bagdhad in the Second Gulf War, the residents of the city took to looting stores, warehouses and museums in a state of total chaos. In bygone years, such anarchy was enough justification for foreign powers to take over any given city, harbor or even nation on the pretext of restoring law … Continue reading The Sakai Incident 1868
It is very difficult to find good, new samurai fiction in the English language, or any Japanese fiction for that matter. If you look for a list of best samurai fiction, or historical novels, on Goodreads, you will find Shogun by James Clavell (published 1975), Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa (1939), Taiko by the same author … Continue reading Where are the samurai stories?