The first three months of the year in Japan are a time of transition; a time of change. In addition to the rebirth of life, as winter fades into a memory and is replaced by the beauty and vitality of spring, 20-year olds celebrate their coming-of-age day, university hopefuls sit the examinations that will determine whether they will be admitted to their preferred colleges, kids graduate from school and salarymen get shifted to new positions. This time of change also affects writers, with certain projects coming to an end and new projects starting.
The projects that have come to an end for me include a serialized novel published in the Tacho-Tadoku Magazine （多聴多読マガジン.） Gateway to Hell was a horror-fantasy story that ran in the magazine from March 2009, and the final chapter was published in the January 06 edition. The story was dark and filled with despair, which was my intention, and although closure was achieved at the end, the general aftertaste was one of sadness at the fate of the protagonists. My son, Jamie, drew the illustrations for this serialization, and he managed to produce the sense of noire that I was aiming for with some very elegant pen drawings. Gateway to Hell was my first attempt at a horror story, but I would definitely like to revisit the genre again some time in the future.
Another project that came to an end was my Happy Reading series of columns published in the Asahi Weekly newspaper; a series of twelve articles that started in April 2009 and ending in March 2010. These columns were designed to encourage Japanese people to read books in the original English, a theme that I have been involved with rather intensively over the course of the past decade through the medium of various articles and numerous books. Each column covered a different genre of literature—from mystery, adventure, fantasy and horror through to non-fiction—and provided advice for non-native speakers when reading these genres.
But, as one project ends, another tends to begin. The March 06 edition of the Tacho-Tadoku Magazine carried the first of a series of articles on the life and times of Ryoma Sakamoto, a prominent figure in Japan’s history who contributed greatly to opening Japan to the rest of the world during the Meiji period. This series of articles is a tie-in with the popular NHK drama series, Ryoma-den（龍馬伝） which dramatizes the most important parts of Sakamoto’s life.
And, from April 04, I have another novel serialization that will be published in the Asahi Weekly newspaper. It is entitled Treasure in the Welsh Mountains, and it will appear weekly (every Sunday) for twenty-four consecutive weeks. A psychological mystery set in Wales, it portrays the problems Simon Dexter, the protagonist, has when he inadvertently discovers a hoard of ancient Saxon treasure while searching for a missing relative. My son, Jamie, will also be drawing the illustrations for this. Treasure in the Welsh Mountains is the first of two novels that will run back-to-back in the Asahi Weekly until March 2011, although I haven’t even started thinking about the story scheduled to take over from it in September. More news on that at a later date.
In addition to the Endings and Beginnings, there are also certain elements that remain unchanged. My regular article on bestselling literature （ベストセラーはおもしろい！） also published in the Tacho-Tadoku Magazine (since September 2006) will continue as usual, and I hope this state of affairs will continue long into the future.