October, 2017


Beauty Salon on Route 356 in Kohoku, Abiko. (Watercolour and ink on A4 paper, September 2017).

Sometime in August or September, I came to the conclusion that my latest Hana Walker novel was causing me no end of jip because I was trying to shoe-horn two plots into one novel. A better novelist could make this work, but I’m not one yet, so I thought I’d split my 40,000 words into two novellas. I’m going to spend this month finishing the first draft of the first, working title How to Kill a Foreigner, and save the subplot for The Yakuza’s English Teacher, to be written sometime in the New Year. The idea is to build a body of work so that when I actually stumble upon a hit, there are other books for readers to buy. That’s the plan anyway.

Here are a few links to my latest projects and other stuff worth a click or two.

  1. I published a couple of books last month, though you’d be forgiven for not noticing. There’s the micro-niche At the Dentist’s: 100 English phrases for dental assistants, hygienists and patients, blog post here, and a little more inclusive textbook for first year Japanese junior high school learners of English, details here. I’m doing nothing more marketing-wise than just the odd blog post or YouTube video until the books have had all the kinks worked out of them through classroom use, and until I have a complete series to offer teachers.
  2. You want access to 213,000 Japanese woodblock prints for free, dontcha? It’s here.
  3. I’m going to attend my first ever literary hoo-hah, the 2017 Japan Writers Conference from October 8th and 9th in Ikebukuro. Looks a bit heavy on trad publishing for my tastes (more about pleasing the gatekeepers than readers), but I’m hoping to bag an interview with the odd writer (they are all odd, ed.) Come along and say hi if you are in Tokyo.
  4. This podcast episode of Criminal, recommended by newsletter Gold Star Deputy Mark Williams, was a fantastic interview with the cantankerous septuagenerian NYT reviewer of crime fiction.
  5. Bored with Haruki Murakami? Discover real Japanese sureality with this great Peter Tasker article on Yasutaka Tsutsui.
  6. Here’s me blathening on about self-publishing on YouTube, using my dentist book as an example of a, er, hole to fill in the market.
  7. Here’s last month’s interviewee, Kaori Shoji, writing about a tearjerker of a film adaptation of a Keigo Higashino novel.
  8. I was chuffed with this reader’s review of my first Hana Walker novel, Half Life.
  9. I didn’t get my ducks in a row this month to do an interview with an author, but you might get as much as I did from reading this WaPo article about children’s author and illustrator Sandra Boynton. Between her interview and this one in The Atlantic with Celeste Ng on the value of Goodnight Moon, I’m ready to write and illustrate my first picture story books for really little kids. In amongst the other stuff on plate of course…
  10. Question of the month: Last time I asked if you found these top 10 lists tedious, to which I received two vaguely positive comments, unless I lost the negative emails behind the sofa cushions. Either you are too shy to tell me the truth, or it’s not something you care all that much about. I’ll take that as a mandate to carry on regardless. But something that would be a great help to me now is this: Apart from Cat in the Hat, The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Where The Wild Things Are, what is your all-time favourite children’s picture book, or one that you would buy for your or your best friend’s kids?I might as well copy, er, I mean “learn” from the best.

Thanks for reading, have an unsurprising October if possible. And if you have enjoyed reading any of my stuff, be a sport and tell a pal about this newsletter, leave a review or drop me a line on Twitter or Facebook. You can find past issues of this newsletter behind the sofa cushions at Letter from Abiko.

Next month, I hope to have an interview with a British thriller novelist/screenwriter whom Elmore Leonard called “inspired”. We’ll see.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s