Where are you from and what do you do when you’re not writing?
I live in York. The Pennsylvania city was, for a short time, the nation’s capital. When I’m not writing, I surprise my husband with one-of-a-kind meals made with whatever’s on hand. How else can you explain sweet potato-chickpea-yogurt soup? I’m an artist and a volunteer business mentor with SCORE (www.score.org).
How did you come up with the idea for this book?
The seed for Ken’s War was planted when my former martial arts instructor, a white American, told me that as a child he’d lived in Japan with his dad and learned martial arts at a dojo there. That intrigued me. Generally, I write fiction to explore relationship dynamics and emotions, especially emotions occurring covertly in the subtext and behaviors of what’s overtly acknowledged between people.
Tell us about the writing process—what were your favorite and least favorite moments?
I usually start with a character in mind and write a bio for that person. Once I get started with a nugget of story, I find that ideas, details, information and fodder flood me from all sources – TV, other books, overheard conversations and from purposeful research. I developed a process called “Build-a-Scene” that makes writing flow easily for me.
I love refining, writing tighter, finding the perfect word and chopping out fat.
The least favorite aspect of writing is searching for an agent or publisher. It’s easy to get discouraged, but we must remember that some novels that are classics now were rejected numerous times.
What’s your favorite cure for writer’s block?
I don’t get writer’s block, but I know some writers do.
Have you ever heard of accountant's block? Janitor's block? Secretary's block? Butcher's block? Oops, you get my point. Whether the writing hiatus is due to an idea ripening, a log jam of ideas, fear, caution, pressure, a sanity break or something else, it's temporary. Accept it for a time. Don't feel guilty or incompetent. Don't compare yourself to writers who crank out thousands of words daily. Think of the break as steam gathering for your next power surge. Or embark on an oxymoronic scribble - write about writer's block.
Ken sliced the envelope open with a kitchen knife. A cowboy and glitter words, “It’s your 16thbirthday!” were on the front of the card.
Inside his mom had written, “Keep up with your schoolwork. You have a baby brother, born May 9. He’s a half-brother, since he’s my new husband’s son. Love, Mommy.”
His father’s face was etched with curiosity. “What’s it say?” Paderson asked.
“Why didn’t you tell me you’re not married anymore?” Ken pushed past their Japanese housekeeper, who’d come gliding toward him with her handkerchief to soak up tears burning his eyes.
Outside, humidity coated him like waxy skin he couldn’t shed. He picked a scab off his knee and pictured his mom at their old kitchen table, writing the birthday message, convinced that what she was telling him was good news. She would have licked the adhesive on the envelope flap. Then using the side of her fist, she would have patted the sticky flap down to the rhythm of the throbbing pearl of pain in his chest.
Why did she need another son?
When Ken returned to the house lost hours later, he found the housekeeper snipping flower shapes out of rice paper with small scissors. She glued the shapes onto the rice paper screen separating the kitchen from the sleeping area. The flowers - ghostly shadows - patched holes Paderson’s drunken fingers had punctured through the translucent room divider.
That’s how Ken knew his dad hated the birthday message, too.
What’s your next/current writing project?
I’m putting finishing touches on the novel Authenticity. Lynn, a gifted art intuitive, knows in her gut if paintings are priceless masterpieces or forgeries. Authenticity is her forte. Or so she thought.
Here’s a totally random question for you:
I’m on a silly haiku kick, so come up with your own silly haiku, but you must include the word “platypus”.
Mammal or mutant?
God’s conundrum platypus
Love it! Thanks so much for stopping by!
Bio: I’m a word nerd, meaning I love writing (and rewriting), completing crossword puzzles and finding boo-boos on menus and brochures. I have a bossy cat and a well-behaved spouse.
Over 400 of my articles and short stories have been published here and internationally. Oxford University Press published two anthologies of my stories. I've taught fiction and non-fiction writing in the U.S.A. and abroad.
Like Ken, the protagonist in Ken’s War, I've been uprooted from Yankee soil to live in the Far East where culture shock was a daily challenge.