Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Eat raisin cookies, get smarter!
Where else can you munch on oatmeal-raisin cookies and increase your knowledge of World War II? Under the Silk Hibiscus, my newest novel, provides the reader with food for the body and the mind. Set in one of the Japanese-American interment camps, the aunt in the story loves to have a "pep", a.k.a., a cookie. So I knew that there had to a recipe in the back for cookies. All of my other novels have recipes and I wanted this one to be just like them.
There are differences, though. My other five novels are all set in North Carolina. This newest one takes place in Heart Mountain, Wyoming. But I had to bring some South to it, so I made one of the soldiers Southern. And after the war, one of the internees heads for North Carolina to work at Lucky Strikes in Durham (where I live now).
This is also my first historical fiction. Research became my friend.
I grew up in Japan as a missionary kid and so my love for the Japanese and all things Japanese is ingrained in me. I feel like that shows in my story. The research part did make me sad as I saw how poorly American citizens were treated----just because they looked like the enemy. My desire was to portray the truth of how things were for Japanese-Americans both during and after the war. The discrimination was brutal. To keep the balance, I had to rely on humor. After all, my books must have that vital ingredient.
Whether you know a little or a lot about the plight of Japanese-Americans who lived on the West Coast during WWII and were sent to camps, I hope you'll enjoy Under the Silk Hibiscus.
And don't forget to bake the cookies so you can get the full flavor of the story. When Aunt Kazuko says she needs a pep for "pep me up", you should freely have one, too.
Pick up a copy for yourself and one to give as a gift this Christmas. The novel is available in both e-book and print versions.