Most of the action in my Bath Novel Award shortlisted novel You’re Beautiful takes place on a beach about an hour south of Tokyo, but some scenes actually take place in the city itself. At the beginning of the book, Lisa, who has come to Tokyo in pursuit of a man she is in love with, spends many days wandering around the city by herself. The view pictured above makes her feel particularly lonely:
Today her excursion was to the rooftop observation deck of the Mori Tower, fifty-four floors high, from where the city was reduced to a carpet of concrete stretching to hazy infinity in every direction. She stood alone on the windy roof, while a strange, estranging jazzy soundtrack piped from a speaker strove and failed to drown out the roar of the rooftop machinery. Whether it was the artificiality of the music or the unaccustomed perspective, she had felt suddenly lonely. She was a character in a film about loneliness. A French film . . . no, Polish. Black and white. Ridiculous, she told herself in the descending lift. She had Dan now. There was no reason to feel lonely any more.
I took this photo on my own visit to the Mori Tower, when I was researching this scene. Pedantic readers may notice a few discrepancies between the description of the view from the novel and what can actually be seen in the photo. First, this is the one direction in which Tokyo’s unending sprawl doesn’t stretch to infinity—because it faces the sea. But I like this composition, with the red Tokyo Tower. There’s another photo below to give you an idea of the vast unendingness of the city. But neither photo is particularly hazy, as mentioned in the extract. That’s because the novel takes place in summer and these pictures were taken in winter when the weather is deliciously dry and clear. Hard on the skin—gallons of moisturiser needed—but great for the hair. A smooth sheet of shiny gold. That’s what my hair was like during those Tokyo winters. Not the uncontrollable frizzy tropical mess I’ve been living with for the last five years.
Anyway, got something to tell you. Not sure who this “you” is these days; I’m pretty sure I no longer have any regular readers due to the supremely sporadic nature of the blog over the last few years, but since the blog was set up in order to map my road to publication I feel obliged to announce that I’VE GOT AN AGENT! And the reason the blog’s been a bit quiet this last month is because I’ve been working on revisions to the novel. For my agent. I’ve got an agent. I still can’t believe it. And if any of you out there are searching for agent representation for that fabulous novel you’ve written, I strongly advise you to enter the Bath Novel Award like I did, because they provide an amazing agent introduction service for shortlisted entrants. They’ve just opened for 2017 entries. Go and do it!