We're going to Japan!

>> Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The big news here at Gratz Industries: we're going to Japan!

After years of dreaming about a Japan trip, we're finally going. At the end of last year, the American School in Japan invited me to apply for a scholar in residence position at their school, and I was one of two people selected to join them this year for an extended school visit! I'll be the guest of ASIJ for six weeks, all the while working with the middle school students on a school-wide historical fiction writing project that will take the place of their usual research papers they write at this time. (It's an English-speaking school, in case you're wondering.)

My first involvement with ASIJ came in the spring of 2009, when the seventh grade read Samurai Shortstop and posted responses to a series of creative and analytical questions on a school-sponsored blog. By invitation, I tuned in to read their work and make comments, and at the end of the project I did an hour-long Skype visit in which I announced the winners of each writing contest and answered general questions about Samurai Shortstop and the writing life.

I'm thrilled to build on that connection now by going on an extended school visit to ASIJ, which is located in Tokyo. I'll be staying in an apartment in Tokyo for six weeks, and commuting to my temporary day job via subway and bicycle (which they're loaning me!) Then, toward the end of my tenure at ASIJ, Wendi and Jo will join me to explore as much of Japan as we can see in a couple of weeks. All in all, I'll be in Japan for a full two months! (Alas, it's just too expensive to have Wendi and Jo join me the whole time. My tiny apartment is definitely a one-person flat!)

And here's the kicker: we're going very soon! This spring, in fact--less than three months from now. I've already begun preparing my historical fiction lessons, and we've bought a book or six about traveling around Japan to prepare. Jo is even learning a bit of Japanese, via her Nintendo DS--we found a Japanese language game for her, and she's getting pretty good!

I'll still be blogging from Japan, and should have great pics and stories to share. I'm also expecting to be creatively inspired by the trip, and hope to have a notebook full of great ideas when I return.

You know, many years ago, when I first began researching and writing Samurai Shortstop, I had to work on faith: faith that what I was writing was good, faith that people would want to read it, and faith that someone would actually buy it from me and publish it after all my hard work. I had no way of knowing then just how far that book would take me: first from my day job as a teacher to a day job as a writer (a dream come true), and now, literally, it is taking me from my home in rural North Carolina to live and work half way around the world in Tokyo, Japan. Pretty amazing.

Thanks again to ASIJ for this wonderful opportunity!


tanita davis January 13, 2010 at 11:20 AM  

Looking forward to your blog posts from there. You guys are going to have an amazing trip.

Tbone January 13, 2010 at 11:43 AM  

Fantastic news, Alan. I couldn't be happier for you...

CrimsonBruin January 15, 2010 at 7:07 AM  

Congratulations! I love Japan. I went years ago and want to go back, soon. I really liked reading your PR posts, but as you say, Life awaits. Have fun!

beth January 15, 2010 at 11:54 PM  

WOW!! That is so wonderful! I'm so happy for you!

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