July, 2017

Our man in Matsumoto: Paul Murphy

Good evening, here is the news from soggy Abiko…

I’ve got a soft spot for journos. That may be a self-centred thing to say seeing as I was a newspaper reporter and sub-editor for 13 years in a previous life, but I’d like to think there is something noble about the daily struggles of the first drafters of truth. On a good day, there can be. Anyway, with that in mind, here are a few links to my latest projects and other stuff worth a click or two.

  1. If you are into Japan, journalism or justice (of course you are, that’s why you subscribe to this newsletter), you will get something of value from my interview with True Crime Japan author  Paul Murphy. It’s long, but really good.
  2.  The Library of Congress has made 2,500 Japanese woodblock prints available to download for free. They are top banana, as they say in the Abiko art world, and immediately had me thinking which ones would make good background art for book covers. Speaking of art, I was moved by this article about a chap who set up a gallery to showcase the art of young Japanese artists who were drafted and subsequently mown down in the Second World War.
  3.  I was chuffed for my Hana Walker series to be listed in Asian YA Books worth checking out. And Hana Walker’s debut, Half Life, received this great reviewon Goodreads by reader Akikana.
  4. This Japan Times article on behind-the-scenes drama on the set of You Only Live Twice was really good. Hopefully the JT’s sale to a corporate PR firm, announced this month, won’t adversely affect their output.
  5. Indie author Thersa Matsuura gives a great interview to Metropolis Magazine about her attraction to Japanese folklore.
  6. Ever fancied teaching English and publishing your own textbook? Here’s a 10-minute video on how I went about writing and publishing my 10th one. Filmed on location from my classroom bunker a couple of days ago.
  7. The English translation of The Great Passage, a story of publishing, Japan and office politics by Shion Miura is reviewed by J.C. Greenway, a fellow book-loving Brit in Japan.
  8. Japan finding that it can’t have its Mario Kart cake and eat it, according to this article in the Wall Street Journal. But the country is enjoying a new dawn in the golden age of amine according to The Guardian. Dawns and dusks often look the same, no matter how you paint them.
  9. I really enjoyed this interview with Mark Schilling, who’s been reviewing Japanese movies for Variety and the Japan Times since the 1980s.
  10. Question of the month: Last month’s question was “.What do you recommend I read to get a handle on modern Japanese history?” Guy Yates suggested Tokyo Underworld: The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan by Robert Whiting, which I’ve got (but haven’t read); and Craig Scanlan suggested The Making of Modern Japan by Marius B. Jansen. Craig said, “This is basically the bible of 1600 to present(ish), and biblical in length as well. It’s fairly linear, so if you were perhaps not interested in the early stuff, you could skip it. But no one really lays out the whole damn thing like Jansen did.”

    Thanks deputies.

    Here’s this month’s question that would be a great help to me. I’m back writing my third Hana Walker novel, but I find I’m in two minds about setting. Should I set her adventures primarily in Abiko (as I did in Half Life) or use a neighbourhood of Tokyo as the backdrop (as I diid in Year of the Talking Dog)? The advantage of Abiko is I know it well, but Tokyo, I hate to admit, is a little better known to new readers. What do you think? Where would you like to see Hana galavanting around? Your opinions would be invaluable to me (and Hana) as I’m at the stage where I can easily incorporate big changes to the novel (aka only halfway through the first draft). Just hit reply to this email and I’ll share your (and my reconsidered) thoughts on setting with you next month.

Thanks for reading, have a good rainy season. And if you’ve enjoyed reading any of my stuff, be a sport and leave a review on one of my books on Amazon or Goodreads, or drop me a line on Twitter or Facebook. You can find past issues of this newsletter in the morgue at Letter from Abiko. And if you know anyone who would like this newsletter, feel free to forward ’em a copy.

Next month, I should have an interview in the bag to tell you all about with Alexander O. Smith, the translator of Japanese crime giants Keigo Higashino and Miyuki Miyabe, among others.



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