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1. Is there an event which sparked off the idea for From the Fatherland, with Love? What inspired the book? I’d had the basic idea for a long time: a group of dangerous misfits, dropouts from Japanese society with terroristic aspirations, are collecting weapons and preparing to attack targets in Fukuoka, when the city is invaded by North Korean forces. North Korea was a closed book to me, however; the only image I had was of a secretive totalitarian state, and my intention at first was simply to depict the soldiers as incredibly tough and inscrutably scary. But North Korea became a big topic in the media when Prime Minister Koizumi went there in 2002 to negotiate the release of kidnapped Japanese citizens. As so much focus came to bear on the DPRK and its people, I knew I’d have to do a lot of research in order to lend reality to the novel. 2. You interviewed North Korean refugees for the book. How much do you think they revealed of what they really knew? Were they easy to talk to? What sort of people are they? I think the refugees were honest with me. They had no reason to lie about life in the North, the relationship of the Party to the Army, the severity of the food crisis, or anything else. Moreover, having spent their lives under constant surveillance in the “prison state” that is North Korea, they didn’t really have the mental machinery to construct lies. 3. In From the Fatherland, with Love, Ishihara leads a terrifying gang of homicidal, nihilistic adolescent misfits. Did you meet these people in real life? Are they representative of the current teen and tweens in Japan? In the Western World? Were you ever one of them? Read the whole interview here Find out more about the book