You've had a prolific, award-winning career in your country. How have American audiences responded to your work?
Miyuki Miyabe: I was so glad to receive favorable comments for my first novel published in English, All She Was Worth, a mystery about the devastating effects of credit card debt and identity theft. The book came out in 1996, so I'm curious to see the response to Shadow Family, which is all about the Internet and the breakdown of the traditional family.
The politics and police procedures seem very authentic in Shadow Family. What kind of research do you do?
"True crime" books are deeply interesting as well as useful references for me. Police training manuals can't be obtained by the general public, but books about forensic medicine and scientific crime detection are published for general readers. Some of those books describe the highly technical investigative procedures of police departments, so they're very valuable materials for writing mysteries. I've also done some interviews with the public relations department at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police.
Shadow Family explores societal problems that plague both our cultures. What other modern ills do you think we share?
Both Japan and the United States share a continuing high rate of unemployment. In Japan, many young people such as new college graduates face difficulties in finding a job. The current reality makes it extremely difficult for young people to find a purpose in life.
And what are some problems exclusive to Japanese culture?
Japan has recently been struck by a number of large natural disasters, and this experience has raised a huge awareness of how we should prepare for major disasters in the future. It makes me think that although it's hard to prepare for natural disasters, it's even harder to prepare for a breakdown within the family because there are aspects going on that one may not know about. People don't easily recognize the identity breakdown of a family or of an individual.
Do you have any favorite American authors?
I love Michael Z. Lewin and Lawrence Block. Both writers are also very popular in Japan.
Do you have another book due to be published in the U.S.?
Kodansha plans to publish my novel Crossfire in English in 2006.
What's next on your writing agenda?
I'd like to continue to explore how the dignity of people is discovered in the current consumer society, where even affection, heart, and happiness might be treated as a commercial product. I want to discover, in writing my characters' lives, those things that could never be bought or sold for any price. At the same time, I'm very interested in how adults would answer this question when they are asked by their children or a younger generation.
Has there been any film or TV interest in your fiction?
Two of my novels have already been made into feature-length films, and Shadow Family was made into a TV movie by the Japanese-language TV network NHK in 2004. Riyu [The Reason] is scheduled to be released as a film shortly. I wrote Riyu in a somewhat documentary style, and for this reason I imagined that it would be a challenge for the director to make it into a movie; however, he did a marvelous job remaining true to the tone of my original work, and I'm very happy with it.