The Times (of London, to us Yanks) has a short piece from David Mitchell recalling his time spent in Hiroshima, which marked the early days of his stint in Japan and evolution as a writer. We learn how Mitchell became the resident snake-wrangler, a little TMI about the toilet situation in his rented Hiroshima country house, how he met the future Mrs. Mitchell, and how the first outlines of Ghostwritten emerged from an early manuscript.

The story is behind a paywall, but readers can access the entire article for free by registering with The Times. Mitchell says he spent a total of eight years in Japan, and if you’re interested in learning more — particularly about his time in Tokyo and how it helped shape him as a novelist — check out his 2016 interview with the English-language Japan Times.