As Far Back as They Can Go:

Alle C. Hall
3 min readSep 2

Making dollhouse minis from my novel.

About a year ago, I started making minis (basically, playing dollhouse), fashioning scenes from my novel or from its backstory.

During an interview for The Portland Mercury, slated to run on September 6th, I shared my hobby. The reporter might include the info in the article (headline: Unproductive Novelist Prefers to Play with Dolls), so I thought I’d start posting them here, too.

Though I am not gifted at the visual arts, I am very good at buying small things: earrings, macaroons. Adorable dollhouse stuff. I find creating the scenes refreshing; I get off my bum and out of my head, get my hands dirty. Also, mini-making allows me to engage with the story even as I blow off work. Hee-hee.

In As Far as You Can Go Before You Have to Come Back, one of the tai chi-practicing backpackers who takes Carlie under her wing is the Japanese American Cho Yamashita. Cho is 39 years old when Carlie meets her, one of the top managers (Butch-o-u) for the department store chain that her family owns: Yamshitaya; literally, Yamashita’s Store.

For generations, Cho’s forbearers operated the original Yamashitaya on the west side of Tokyo, in the Shinjuku district. The store focused on textiles. Cho’s paternal grandfather, Eichi Yamashita, was fifteen when he joined his parents in selling material by the length or bolt; did so until 1944, when Japan instituted a draft for males over the age of twenty. Eichi was twenty-two.

In 1945, at the end of WWII but before the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the U.S. undertook to raze Tokyo: napalm firebombs flattened sixteen square miles of the Japanese capital. The worst of the onslaught took place the first night. March 9th-10th became the single most destructive bombing of WWII — worse than Hiroshima, worse than Nagasaki.

Shinjuku after Night of the Black Snow
Shinjuku circa 1920
Shinjuku circa 1930

In Hiroshima, eighty thousand people died the first day; in Nagasaki, forty thousand…

Alle C. Hall

PNW Booksellers Book Award nominee: As Far as You Can Go Before You Have to Come Back: 1st Place: International FireBird Book Awards: Literary & Coming of Age