Nice to meet you, my name is Enji Arai.
Thank you for picking up “Sugar Dark”.
A certain respected author once told me, “Afterwords are absolutely superfluous and unnecessary.” But I won’t be following the words of that master writer, I think that after all the time and effort, like many others, I would like to use this section to superfluously explain why I wrote a story about a graveyard.
For people still enjoying the story, I think that there are probably no major spoilers, so if you don’t mind, please join me in this indulgence.
It’s a bit unclear when I first got the idea.
When I was still wearing school uniforms, I happened to be in a bookstore in Takadanobaba, standing by the magazine racks and reading a game magazine. I don’t really remember the title nor its contents, but there was an article about a game that was retro even then. In the article, one of the pages showed the player’s character in pixel art. It represented some kind of human character job, which looked like a male mummy, and was called a “grave keeper.”
That’s right, a grave keeper was the same kind of job as a “warrior” or “mage”.
…or at least that’s what I thought then.
At the time I already started writing a novel, but (just like now) I was suffering from a lack of inspiration. So I labeled the idea of a grave keeper as important and stored it in the corner of my mind. By using the phrase as a base, my brain swelled with wild ideas.
Of course grave keepers showed up in graveyards, or places where people buried corpses.
Taking that idea a bit further, for example, in a game when a monster is defeated its corpse disappears on the spot. But if there really were monsters that attacked humans in our world, I don’t think their bodies would disappear in an instant, even if they were killed. So in that case, wouldn’t they need to be buried in a special place? And wouldn’t the grave keeper at that location also need a special kind of power in order to fulfill their obligation?
…And so all of this led to me managing to write a story about present day mass cemeteries in Japan, despite the fact that I felt my ability to write on the topic was largely insufficient. So naturally my first memorable literary contribution as befitting a first attempt was rejected.
After that, as if I hadn’t learned from my mistakes, my writings kept being rejected over and over again, eventually making my first rejection a distant memory.
It wasn’t until about a year ago when my opportunity finally came.
The Sneaker Award’s deadline was two months away and I was troubled by my lack of material. Until then my principle had been to never look back. No, truthfully speaking without trying to make myself look good, even though I would have been correcting a failed manuscript, I felt that all the time it would take in the revision would be less exciting than challenging something new.
Even so, the idea of a grave keeper from my first contribution was always in the back of my mind. And as I was running out of time, I thought, “I wasn’t able to get published then because I lacked experience. But now, so many years have passed that I’d more or less probably be able to write something better.”
Of course the story would never be accepted if I kept the content the same. After all, there was a reason I had failed in the past. So with those reasons in mind I changed the story, the background, the time, the graveyard, the monsters, maybe all of it. Basically I just tried remaking the story myself with only the premise of a mysterious graveyard and its grave keeper.
…Still, I never thought that I would win the grand prize.
To the selection committee who gave me the opportunity to show this story to the world. To the people who helped compile this text into a book. To Mebae-san who made the awesome drawings. To all the friends who always helped me out. And most of all, to those who read this book, thank you so much. I truly appreciate it.
As for my writing style, I’ve got some strong habits and you’ve also probably recognized I’m a fairly extreme kind of person. I think with all of my weak points, I’m still very much a beginner. I’m such a novice that I can’t even sufficiently express my gratitude. But when I acquire enough skill, I definitely plan on returning your kindness.
Well then, we’ve reached the end, but it looks like I’ve been given the opportunity to write another story. That alone makes me extremely happy. For those of you who have read this book, I can’t tell you how overjoyed I’ll be if you also pick up my next work.
“The greatest masterpiece is always the newest work.” So if you don’t mind, as befitting that maxim I will strive with all my might so that we can surely meet again in “Sugar Dark” volume 2.
Now, I’m preparing a website. There’s still nothing there, but if you’re interested then please check it out.
 The author is referring to anytime from middle school to high school when the vast majority of students wear school uniforms.
 A neighborhood in the Shinjuku area
 Character classes for different characters in RPGs are referred to as “jobs”