What is the working title of your book?
The working title was Broken Dolls, however, after it was accepted by the University of Arkansas Press, the title was changed to The Red Kimono. I must admit, I was somewhat disappointed and resistant at first. Though my writing mentors (like Velda) had warned me not to get attached to my title, when the time came to change it, it was like changing the name of my child. Now, however, I like The Red Kimono better, as do others, from what I hear.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
My mother and her family were Japanese American internees. Also, my mother’s father was killed by two black teenage boys. I took those two events and created a completely fictionalized, but historically accurate story.
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
This is the most fun, showing who I imagine to play the major characters in The Red Kimono!
The first actor, the one for whom I actually rewrote scenes to keep him in my mind’s movie longer, was Papa, played by Ken Watanabe. With his gentle mannerisms and the twinkle in his eye, he is perfect for the role.
The next actor I envisioned was Terrence Howard, playing Terrence Harris. As you can see, I named the character after the actor. Unfortunately, Mr. Howard could not play my teenage character, but his beautiful hazel eyes were the inspiration for Terrence Harris.
The same goes for the actor I imagined playing Nobu—George Takei. He is, of course, too old to portray Nobu Kimura. But as a young man, with his spirited, defiant and wise-beyond-his-years looks, he would have been perfect.
I am not familiar with very many child actors, so the roles of Sachi and Jubie were more difficult. However, I fell in the with the actress who played Chiyo in Memoirs of a Geisha, Suzuka Ohgo, and imagine her as Sachi.
When I watched the girl who played Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild, Quevenshané Wallis, I knew I’d found Jubie.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book ?
The lives of three young Americans are changed by prejudice, revenge, treachery, friendship and finally, forgiveness during the years of World War II.
Is your book self published or do you have an agent?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It took approximately two years to write the first draft. I spent the next two years editing it.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The Red Kimono is a multicultural historical fiction. Therefore, I would compare it to Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, which told the story of a Japanese American and a Chinese American. In that my story is largely about the internment, I would compare it to Tallgrass or Farewell to Manzanar. Because the story involves prejudice and misconceptions, I would compare it to Snow Falling on Cedars.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
My mother, her family and the little amount known about the Japanese American internment originally inspired me to write The Red Kimono. However, it was the misconceptions and misunderstandings that still exist in the world today that drove my determination to finish the book.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I used haiku and journal entries to tell part of the story. Also, in writing the story, I “interviewed” several of my characters, even had happy hour with Nobu, to learn their secrets. Those interviews changed some of what the original story was to be.
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