Celebrating Our Elders: Interview with Koji Suzuki
Koji Suzuki is a Japanese writer, who was born in Hamamatsu and lives in Tokyo. Suzuki is the author of the Ring novels, which have been adapted into other formats, including films, manga, TV series and video games.
Did you start out writing or working in the horror field, and if so why? If not, what were you writing initially and what compelled you to move into horror?
My first novel Paradise was a love story in the South Pacific during the Age of Discovery (my second novel was Ring) and my third novel was also situated in the South Pacific, the story centers around a destined love story between a crew on a tuna fishing ship and a lovely female singer-songwriter. I personally am a yachtsman, so the ocean is the one situation I can really show my best.
Who influenced you as a writer when you started out and who, if anyone, continues to influence you?
Albert Camus, J.D. Salinger, Hemingway, and F.S. Fitzgerald are some that I feel had influenced me.
How have the changes in horror publishing over the past decades affected you?
I don’t think they affected me, rather I think I had more effect on them.
Do you think you’ve encountered ageism? If so, how do you counteract or deal with it?
I haven’t encountered it. The coping method that I can think of would be to perform life-threatening barbaric acts, like setting off on a long journey on the sea and getting the adrenaline pumping, freaking out those around [me].
What do you wish you knew when you were just getting into the field?
Tips on how to become a leader-figure in a group.
Do you have any advice for writers just starting out?
Be unique, be strange! Don’t dare try to become like an honorary person.
Do you think older characters are represented fairly and honestly in horror fiction?
I have no idea since I don’t read horror titles at all.
What are some of your favorite portrayals of older characters?
I don’t have any.
Do you have anything you’d like to add that we haven’t asked?
Part 1 of “UBIQUITOUS” (which is a tetralogy) which I am currently working on, is an unprecedented plant horror story. Based on a myth contained in the Old Testament, it depicts the schemes of a plant that is an agent of God. The story, situated in present-day Japan, is about a microorganism (the ancestor of all plants on earth) contained in ice that was dug up from an ice layer 3,000 meters beneath the Antarctic, that revives in the present day and causes a pandemic.
Part 2 takes place in the Yucatan Peninsula of Central America, where the Mayan civilization once flourished. In the present day, the story is about a genius physicist who tries to decipher the Voynich Manuscript (16th century, owned by Yale University), which is said to be the world’s most difficult cryptograph.
The setting and period of Part 3 shifts from the Iranian plateau in 1000B.C. where Zoroaster lived, to Southern France in the 13th century when the Albigensian Crusader was organized, to the Mayan civilization in the 16th century which was destroyed by the Spanish invasion. The main motif of this part will be the battle between orthodoxy and heresy in religion.
Part 4 takes place in the entire universe, in the near future. It is a story of an impending catastrophe (which is totally over the level compared to that of a massive meteor strike or the attack of the UFO) that threatens not only the whole human race but the very survival of the universe itself.
The theme throughout the four parts is simple and powerful: If the universe have its own will, what kind of life would it wish for the human race?