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Interview: Yukimi Ogawa on “The Secret Mirror of Moriyama House”

Tell us a bit about “The Secret Mirror of Moriyama House.”

I started writing this story in 2011, when things were still pretty confused and confusing after the Great East Japan Earthquake. I personally don’t believe in afterlife, but I understand many people needed to believe that the dead have a place to go, in times like that. So this is my take on afterlife and the place in-between.


What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?

The Moriyama house–the one in real life, where I first got the idea for this story–had the smallest, coarsest garden gate I’d ever seen, and the house even didn’t have a garden! I had to wonder where this gate led to.


Was “The Secret Mirror of Moriyama House” personal to you in any way?  If so, how?

My mother went through two miscarriages before she had me and my sister, and these babies that were never born seems to still haunt her after more than 35 years. I’ve never been pregnant, but the idea that she is still haunted haunts me in turn. I hope we sisters made up for it, for her, but I also think that things don’t work that way.

So in a way Yui is my mother (my mother is also good at handicraft) and I hope, if she can ever read this story, she’ll like it.


This is your first story for F&SF.  Could you tell us about your writing and publishing journey?

I started writing stories in English around 2009. F&SF was the first place I ever sent my story to. Of course it was rejected, and the story in question has been trunked. And for almost two years the rejections I received all said only “no,” not even personal comments.

I am the only person who understands English in my family, and even my family thought my efforts in writing in a language that’s not my own were meaningless. I think these were some of the loneliest years of my life. Fortunately, since I got first published in 2012, I discovered that there are kind people out there who like my stuff well enough, and who are so very encouraging. I’m glad that I’m no longer so lonely, and HERE I am, having a story in F&SF!


What are you working on now?

It seems every time someone asks me this question, I end up saying “more stories about yokai!”


“The Secret Mirror of Moriyama House” appears in the May/June 2016 issue of F&SF.

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