Sparks, thanks to Haruki Murakami

My first encounter with the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami was his novel 1Q84, which I read in 2010 or 2011.

I love the story, but I also felt some shame about how much a Japanese writer knew about European history while I knew very little about Japan.

Anyway, I got hooked and decided to read more of Haruki Murakami’s work.

I don’t remember when the following happened (probably before September 2013). I don’t even remember which of Haruki Murakami’s book I was reading, except that I had read most of his available books by then.

What I do remember is this: I was sitting on my bed, reading Haruki Murakami, when suddenly a pang surged through my body, and a wistful thought whispered: I miss writing.

The thing is, the easy town books are not my first books. I wrote before. Diaries and poems at first. In the mid nineties a story about Fridolin, the bird who wants to explore the world but first has to learn how to fly long distances. It was supposed to be a book for kids, but I was in the middle of breaking with my faith, and those issues kept sneaking in. I never completed this story and when I started to study business, I buried it.

After my studies, my religious past was still hanging over me, and when the idea for a crime story came up, which allowed me to take some fictional revenge, I didn’t hesitate and started to write. I completed this book and called it Those who enter their path. And I offered it to some publishers.

Looking back, I am glad this story never got published. I wasn’t ready. I was still grieving. I wasn’t all of myself, yet.

Back to the scene: me sitting on the bed, Haruki Murakami’s book in my hands, and for the first time in years I long to write.

And then I think, but am I good enough? So, I get up, go to my small room and find the printout of Those who enter their path. I only read the first page or two — and I smile. Yes, I can hold my own.

After this, I didn’t write except a few small articles. I didn’t even go looking for a story. I was more interested in the non-fiction Easy Town ideas anyway /:-).

But I used stories to explore the Easy Town ideas, and in 2016 I entered a story which took me on a six-weeks ride, combining many elements of former stories and evolving into a multi-layered, no-boundaries, diverse, adventurous, intriguing, challenging and sometimes even magical story, so complex and inspiring, that I still sometimes wonder how this story happened.

When I finally emerged, I had no intention of sharing the story, only the findings. But about a week later, I was once again struck by a thought: What if I write down the story? The ideas in the story grew so naturally, the story itself roamed freely and blossomed with no pressure to perform or to conform. Plus if I wrote this story, I could use it as my playground and dig even deeper.

I am sure that my encounter with Haruki Murakami’s work unearthed the sparks that rekindled my love for writing. And that was very likely essential in the process of deciding to write the easy town story.

I for one am grateful for Haruki Murakami’s work.

My way of saying thanks

A few weeks into making notes for the easy town story, I created a list of characters I would need later in the story. And I decided to use this opportunity to say thank you to Haruki Murakami by adding a Japanese character to the list.

  • Hachiro Anabuki, born on Rebun Island, Japan, 1983, head designer and co-head of, the project’s fashion company. First impression: simply beautiful and pretty small

Later, I noticed that Hachiro bears no resemblance to Haruki Murakami’s work. But maybe that is for the better.

It was only when I started to work on book 2, travelling, that I added Hachiro to the travelling team, giving him an early connection to the role he might play later.

It was while writing book 2, travelling, that Hachiro became more than a thank you and a background story on a list. And as I got to know him better, shaping his ups and downs, I enjoyed every bit of writing this beautiful character who is such a talented and caring creator.

My favourite books by Haruki Murakami

  • Kafka on the Shore
  • The Wind-up Bird Chronicle
  • 1Q84
  • A Wild Sheep Chase
  • Dance, Dance, Dance
  • Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

The official Haruki Murakami website.

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