The following is the last of three posts dedicated to the fifth anniversary of my debut novel, Enso. You can purchase Enso here.

It started with a girl.

It was just about a decade ago (October 7, 2006… at 9:27am, but who’s counting?). That time, it was me standing on a track waiting for a train to leave Kyoto. I had, the night before, gone geisha watching, and yes – for anyone who’s read Enso – I did in fact take that blurry picture as well. I had no idea that I was to write anything about Osaka or Kyoto. Though it was actually me in Tower records, me at the sushi restaurant, me wearing a Yankees hat and me at Osaka-jo, I swear to you I had no idea.

Standing on the platform with some matter of minutes to kill, I found my eye wandering through the lens of a camera. I don’t know that I saw her per se, but there are few others in the picture that was to change my entire world. Did she make an impression? You tell me:

Her clothing was a modern take on classic 1950’s American fashion and while this would have looked rather cute on anyone, it was how she wore the clothes that made him stop. She wore an oversized black letterman sweater with white ribbing along the cuffs, pockets and buttons, one of which was fastened. The sleeves were pushed up to reveal her slender forearms. She wore a fitted button up white blouse with a broad starched collar which she wore open and a denim mini-skirt which revealed strong and sexy legs which, as quickly as they had been revealed, disappeared into dark brown cowboy boots with black socks which peaked out over the tops. She had straight brown hair that went just past her shoulders and a broad, yet delicate face. Her eyes were attentive and focused; she very much seemed a woman on a mission. She held her mobile phone with her left hand and in the bend of that arm, an oversized white leather bag that hung at her hip. Her right arm hung straight, holding a lime green shopping bag from another store. – Stephen McGrath, Enso

October 7, 2006 at 9:27am… Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Maruko.

I never met her. We were never less than 50 meters apart. I went my way, she went hers, but we were, of course, only beginning to dance.


Today marks five years since the release of the story I would write about the girl described above.

In truth, my Maruko was made far more of what was to come from the [hundred-ish] hours of research that went into that first book. I watched ballet, I studied Japanese (and Japanese baby names), and somewhere in there, my dancing star was born.

While debatably large portions of Connor were, in fact, me, Maruko was simply the face I kept seeing as I reimagined my own adventure to Osaka. She was undoubtedly influenced by my burgeoning love of Haruki Murakami (her name alone stands as a play on the maestro’s family name), but there is actually more to that as well.

“Maru” is the Japanese word for circle, and circles are what Enso is all about.

Enso was my first crack at writing. I don’t pretend that it’s as deep as the novel which would follow it, but if there’s any gem to be unearthed it may be the constant appearance of circles.

Pivots. Circles. Enso. Even this post is a circle of sorts.


For those of you who’re yet to read Enso, I welcome you. I hope, however, you will forgive me if this post was not written for you.

No, this post is for those select few who did read Enso five years ago. I consider it nowhere near sad that I know most of you by name. On the contrary, it is my honor.

You’ve asked before and I’ve played bashful for long enough.

It’s been a decade since I didn’t meet the woman whose story turns five years old today.

I’ve never shared her picture. That changes here. Once again, it’s my great honor to introduce you to our star, Maruko.


Learn more on the music, pictures and little details that made Enso Enso by clicking here.