Some years ago, I spent the weekend with Alex Faure and his wife Winifred, to research parts of his life that spanned the war years with Japan, from 1941 to 1945. Alex is French, but was born in Japan of a French father and Russian mother. He grew up in Yokohama. In his last year of school and about to go to Harvard University in America, the war broke out and prevented this.
He spent the entire war years in Japan, where he was classified as a neutral foreigner, and told me of his amazing life there when American planes were bombing Tokyo into ruins. My publishers at the time, Pan Macmillan, wanted to give the story and Australian flavour, so with some concern, but with Alex’s permission, I added some fiction to his life. The book was published as Land of Dreams in 2002, and later republished by Penguin.
I had always felt it was a great pity I’d been persuaded to ass fiction to what was an exciting and authentic story. So here is the original manuscript, with excerpts from Alex’s diary documenting his survival as a gaijin – a European – in wartime Yokohama and Tokyo, and later when all foreigners were forced to take up residence in the unique mountain retreat of Karuizawa. It was here that sex became the only game in town for the colony of neutral Europeans, as the chances of invasion became closer, and threats to use men and women as hostages threatened their lives. This is how Alex Faure, a schoolboy from the age of nineteen, lived just a step ahead, but always endangered by the wartime laws and the Kempetai police, while romancing girls in the bar of the Ginza, and seeking dragons in the enchanted forest.
Buy your copy of Dragons in the Forest here.