Book Talk: What happens when society turns on you

Thu Mar 24, 2011 6:04am EDT
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - Masaharu Aoyagi is meeting a college friend in his car for a brief chat by the side of the road. But as they talk, the Japanese Prime Minister is blown up just blocks away -- and Aoyagi becomes the top suspect.

His life turned upside down, the former package delivery man and hero of Kotaro Isaka's "Remote Control" is forced to run as a net of media and police closes relentlessly around him for no reason he can understand.

Set in a near-future Japan where "security pods" track citizens' every move and based roughly on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the book looks at what can happen when a witch-hunt mentality is given free reign.

Isaka, who lives in Sendai -- hit hard by the recent Japanese earthquake -- spoke with Reuters about how he writes.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for this?

A: I basically wrote this wondering what would happen if I tried to write something like a Hollywood movie. Before this I'd never really been able to write something in this style. What I had in mind to start with was "Die-Hard" and "The Fugitive."

So I borrowed a lot of movies and watched a lot of fugitive-style movies, getting an idea of what it was like, how it flowed. There were a lot of things that I didn't like and decided to get rid of. For example, in fugitive movies there's always the side that's chasing and the side that's being chased, which to me almost seems as if it's giving a sense of security: ah, the next scene we'll see will show the police, the scene after that will be the fugitive. I didn't think that was so exciting. So, what if you only write from the point of view of the person who's being chased, and stick with that throughout?

Also, if you know who's doing the chasing, it's actually kind of boring. Somebody really close to them betrays them, or there's somebody within the police. That pattern came up a lot. If you know who's doing the chasing, it's exciting at first but gets dull after that, especially toward the end.   Continued...