Way back, when I was a senior in high school, I received a writing award from the English Department. I was in Japan, in Tokyo, having moved back there for the last two years of my high school. The school was called -- is still called -- the American School in Japan. I hated it, except that I made some very good friends and was encouraged to read and write and read some more. This was before I wrote my first story; all I had written were papers and essays and a smattering of embarrassing poems I mercifully showed no one except a couple of close friends, who I have to hope saved no copies of them. The writing award came with a gift. It was wrapped in washi, traditional Japanese paper, and contained a copy of that year's O. Henry Prize Stories, signed by everyone in the department. Having gone to British-based International Schools all my life in countries where access to English-language books were mostly limited to English classics curated by the school library, it was my first introduction to the prize and anthology. It's a strange feeling now to see my name included here and see the spine next to the one I had received all those years ago. It's nothing I ever imagined back then -- it had not yet crossed my mind that I would one day write fiction.