People : “You can keep it” — her first novel since winning the Akutagawa Prize.
Ms. Risa Wataya

Ms. Risa Wataya
Ms. Risa Wataya
Born Kyoto Prefecture, 1984. Graduated Murasakino High School. Senior in the School of Education. Awarded the 38th Bungei Prize for “Install”, written when she was 17, and the 180th Akutagawa Prize for her next novel, “Keritai Senaka”. Currently enjoys reading Daphne Du Maurier and Steven King.

Ms. Wataya's soft and demure Kyoto accent belied her lively eyes and earnest words, reminding me of one of the cool, self-possessed heroines of her novels “Install” and “Keritai Senaka”. I got the feeling that she had matured not a little from the charming and innocent young lady who won the Akutagawa Prize.

Looking back on her life in university, at the Waseda-Keio sports match and the Waseda Festival, she smiled and said, “It was fun.” Despite winning the Akutagawa Prize she managed to lead a quiet, uneventful campus life and did a part-time job as a member of concert staff. “Tokyo is overcrowded. It was hard at the beginning, but now I've got used to it.” She's also got used to university life, and has made two really close friends. “I've learned to relate to people more positively than when I was in high school,” she said, choosing her words carefully.

Both her novels feature high school heroines and effete boys who understand those girls. “I don't need friends like that,” she said with a laugh. “They just turn out that way as a reflection of my character.” Once she creates them they take on a life of their own. Her answers to my questions were quick and lively.

A characteristic feature of her style is the beautiful tapestry of words. She reads her favorite books over and over again and builds up her drafts step by step without worrying about the whole structure. “At first I wasn't interested in study, but later I studied hard.” As she worked her way through the history of literature, she came to realize that theory was also necessary for writing. Her graduation thesis was on the structure of “Hashire Merosu” by Osamu Dazai, one of her favorite authors.

She has already started on her next novel. “Though my parents seem to have read my books, it's only recently that my friends have started browsing through them. My brother said he'd never read them.” Cool reactions such as these may have been a blessing for Ms. Wataya, who became a “writer” at a very young age. While still in her teens she was honored with two prizes that almost every writer dreams of winning. “My life will be less busy from now on as I don't have to worry about combining writing with studying.” said Ms. Wataya, smiling cheerfully. A brilliant writer, but also a very natural and unaffected young lady.

Copyright (C) 2006 Student Affairs Division, WASEDA University. All rights reserved.
First drafted 2006 January 26.