Saturday, 15 October 2016


I'm mostly known for writing scary supernatural stuff and -- these days -- tough, hard-bitten crime novels as well. But, as Jack Bristow said in the TV show Alias, 'no person is just one thing.' Which means that I'll occasionally come out with a much gentler supernatural tale than is my norm. One of them is free on Amazon this weekend, and it's a story that has its own story behind it.
I'd already visited Japan once before, the main island of Honshu, starting at Yokohama, and then taking in Tokyo, Kyoto, and a lot of points in between, Mount Fuji included. And I'd already written stories set in those locations.
But back in 2005, the opportunity arose to visit Kyushu, Japan's southernmost island. And it turned out to be a completely different deal from its far bigger sister. Tropical, quite like Hawaii, with palm trees and golden beaches. Extremely volcanic too, with geysers and fantastical pumice sculptures along some shorelines where flowing lava had hit the ocean and had formed weird outlines as the water cooled it. But Kyushu is also the historic and spiritual home of the Shinto religion, the place where the Japanese gods are supposed to have settled when they came down to our world, and so the place is full of the most fascinating shrines and temples too, some of them in striking locations. On beaches, next to waterfalls, even in a cave beside the sea. What inspiration for a writer of imaginative fiction! By the time my ten day trip was over, I already had a story set there burning a big hole inside me.
It was a grueling journey back, 22 hours, involving three planes and a long connecting coach trip. Once home -- naturally -- I collapsed into bed. But I only stayed there for about three hours. Hauled myself up, fixed myself a cup of coffee, went straight to my laptop and started work on 'HANAKO FROM MIYAZAKI.' I completed it in just two days. It first appeared in CD magazine the following year, but now it is available as an eBook, along with several other of my gentler and more wistful tales. So ... where do I get my ideas from? Now you know.