"I thought it [writing] was going to help my personal growth," said Atsushi Shimomura, who won the most prestigious award for newcomers in the field of mystery novels. "I wanted to improve myself."
Shimomura, the 33-year-old recipient of the 60th Edogawa Rampo Award, repeatedly returned to this theme throughout the interview.
He submitted entries for nine straight years before receiving the honour. In his award-winning novel "Yami ni Kaoru Uso" (Lies with a scent in the darkness), the writer avoided visual descriptions - something that he excels at - by making a blind man the protagonist. Shimomura said he made this choice to stretch his abilities.
There was another motive behind his writing besides self-development, he said.
"I wanted to live up to the expectations of my family and friends, who have always supported me," Shimomura said.
When he started writing a novel at age of 22, Shimomura was a job-hopping part-timer. A friend of his, who aspired to being a fiction writer himself, convinced Shimomura to attempt a novel.
When he shared his dream with his parents for the first time, they encouraged Shimomura and told him, "Do your best for 10 years."
His younger brother, who was always willing to be the first reader of his drafts, gave him all kinds of advice. Shimomura has also carried on in place of his friend, who gave up his dreams of becoming a novelist due to family obligations.
Perhaps that is why the award-winning novel is so wonderful: It is not only a mystery dealing with kidney transplants and the problems of Japanese displaced persons left behind in China amid the chaos at the end of World War II, but also a poignant story of human bonds.
"I wonder if I have revealed my thoughts unconsciously," he said.
His book has hit the shelves of bookstores around the country. It no longer matters whether he is a rookie or seasoned writer.
"I'll keep on working with ambition and just aiming higher," Shimomura said, "for the sake of my readers."