From a 1997 interview with Salon:

SALON: You say that imagination is very important in your works. Sometimes your novels are very realistic, and then sometimes they get very ... metaphysical.

MURAKAMI: I write weird stories. I don't know why I like weirdness so much. Myself, I'm a very realistic person. I don't trust anything New Age -- or reincarnation, dreams, Tarot, horoscopes. I don't trust anything like that at all. I wake up at 6 in the morning and go to bed at 10, jogging every day and swimming, eating healthy food. I'm very realistic. But when I write, I write weird. That's very strange. When I'm getting more and more serious, I'm getting more and more weird. When I want to write about the reality of society and the world, it gets weird. Many people ask me why, and I can't answer that. But I recognized when I was interviewing those 63 ordinary people -- they were very straightforward, very simple, very ordinary, but their stories were sometimes very weird. That was interesting.

S: Did you ever sit in the bottom of a dry well, like your hero, Toru?

M: No. But I've always been attracted by wells, very much. Every time I see one, I go over and look in.

S: Do you think you'll go down one some day?

M: No, no.

S: Too scared?

M: Too scared. I read some writings by people who dropped down wells. One story, by Raymond Carver, was about a boy who dropped into a well and spent a day at the bottom. It's a good story.

S: He's a very realistic writer.

M: Yes, very realistic. But the subconscious is very important to me as a writer. I don't read much Jung, but what he writes has some similarity with my writing. To me the subconscious is terra incognita. I don't want to analyze it, but Jung and those people, psychiatrists, are always analyzing dreams and the significance of everything. I don't want to do that. I just take it as a whole. Maybe that's kind of weird, but I'm feeling like I can do the right thing with that weirdness. Sometimes it's very dangerous to handle that. You remember that scene in the mysterious hotel? I like the story of Orpheus, his descending, and this is based on that. The world of death and you enter there at your own risk. I think that I am a writer, and I can do that. I am taking my own risk. I have confidence that I can do it.

But it takes time. When I started to write this book and I was writing and writing every day, then when that darkness came, I was ready to enter it. It took time before that, to reach that stage. You can't do that by starting to write today and then tomorrow entering that kind of world. You have to endure and labor every day. You have to have the ability to concentrate. I think that's the most important ingredient to the writer. For that I was training every day. Physical power is essential. Many authors don't respect that. [Laughs] They drink too much and smoke too much. I don't criticize them, but to me, strength is critical. People don't believe that I'm a writer because I'm jogging and swimming every day. They say, "He's not a writer."

S: Do you scare yourself when you write these dark things?

M: No, not at all.

S: Not even in the scene when the evil being is coming through the hotel room door to get Toru, or when the soldier is skinned alive? Doesn't writing those scenes upset you?

M: OK, yeah, I get scared. When I was writing those scenes, I was there. I knew that place, I knew. I can feel the darkness. I can smell the strange smells. If you cannot do that, you are not a writer. If you're a writer you can feel that in your skin. When I was writing the scene of the skinning, I was so ... it was so horrible, and I was scared. I didn't want to write it, honestly, but I did it. I wasn't happy when I was doing it, but it was so important to the story. You can't avoid that. It's your responsibility.

posted by sammy at 6:45 AM