The farmers I have met here in Japan, along with my own ancestors, are the impetus for a work of literary fiction built around the theme of heirloom seed preservation and sovereignty as well as climate change. Since the story sprang to life on a long walk with my husband more than five years ago, I have felt the need to write it. It seems the least I can do.

While feature-length articles and essays are compelling, I firmly believe in the power of fiction to create empathy as well as educate. Some of my greatest life-changing moments occurred while immersed in the pages of a good book. I credit writers such as Wendell Berry, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Annie Dillard, Louise Erdrich, Barbara Kingsolver, and Jhumpa Lahiri for opening my heart and revealing the intricacies of the complex weave that is our world.

Writing fiction is undoubtedly one of the most terrifying things I have endeavored, but I find it wonderfully challenging and exhilarating. Like the rest of us, the characters in my novel illustrate hope, perseverance, and the better side of stubbornness as they go about their lives.

My future plans include a series of articles around the phenomenon of farm-to-table food in Japan as well as a novel based on a visit the author and playwright, Zona Gale, made to Japan in 1937.