Saturday, April 2, 2016
Today we get to meet Jan Cline, the author of Emancipated Heart. Here's the blurb:
"It’s 1945 in Grand Peak, Wyoming. After three years in a desolate internment camp, Hana Kato’s family receives the news they’ve longed for: all internees will soon be released! But the promise of freedom doesn’t come soon enough for Hana’s beloved father, who is taken to prison. Now Hana struggles to keep the family together, and must sort through feelings for two men—one Caucasian, one Japanese. How can she help her family endure turmoil and unthinkable tragedy as they prepare for life outside the barbed wire fence? How can she do any of this…when the government and the God she trusted seemed to have abandoned them?"
What inspired you to write this particular novel?
I’ve been interested in history all my life. I was researching for another novel idea and ran across some information about Japanese American internment during WWII. It peaked my interest and I became so fascinated with the internment story, I had to write about it. Most of us have never been taught much in school about this topic, and I very much wanted to bring life to it.
Did you talk with any former internees?
I tried to contact a few, with no luck. I did talk with a few Japanese Americans who had parents or grandparents in the camps. I found that most internees have been reluctant to speak about their experience. I started collecting video interviews from online and other sources. The stories were all great inspiration to me and I learned so much more about the human side of the internment issue. I was drawn in by the overwhelming theme of perseverance and pride. The revelation of the personal, family, and community struggles this group of mostly American citizens endured left me with great admiration for them.
Have you done any travel for research? If so, could you tell us about it?
I have traveled to the Heart Mountain internment camp twice, once as I was beginning to write the story, and once after it was finished. The first trip was thrilling and yielded a lot of tangible research. The second trip was a bit emotional for me, as I could stand on the grounds where my characters stood and interacted. The whole story became very real to me at that point. During that visit I was able to speak to a family visiting the museum whose parents were interned in Hawaii.
I also traveled to Seattle, Washington’s Chinatown and Japantown to see the area where many of the Japanese Americans lived and were evacuated from their homes and businesses early in 1942. Much of that story is told in Jamie Ford’s Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. To study WWII in general I have visited the National WWI museum in Kansas City twice and the Pima Air Museum in Tucson, AZ.
Are any of your characters based on real people or do you see yourself in any of them?
My characters are strictly fictional. I do see some of myself in the main character Hana. She has been through so much and is confused about what is happening to her and why God would not rescue them from their situation. She wants to keep the family together, but it becomes impossible to do that, and she must come to terms with that reality. Family under stress internally and externally is life changing for anyone, and surely for those living essentially in prison together.
What do you hope folks will take away from your story?
I truly hope they will first enjoy the story as good fiction. Then I hope the readers will be enlightened about this period in the history of our country. We are on the verge of history repeating itself, and I think it’s important for us to remember the human element and consequences of decisions based on fear. I also want this story to be encouraging for anyone going through what seems to be insurmountable issues – to see that God is there and they can depend on Him when life seems futile.
Can you share with us a small piece of fascinating history that you learned during your research that did not end up in the novel?
I hinted at it in the novel, but the big picture of community devastation for the Japanese Americans was something I had not known about. The post war story for them is almost as tragic as the internment experience. The other thing that surprised me was the fact that the government froze bank accounts, and in most cases, the money was gone when these people returned home after the war. I would never have guessed that could happen.
Just for fun, fast five favorites: Favorite color? Favorite season? Cats or dogs? Sports or music? Favorite movie?
Dog? Yes, we have a Yorkie/Silky terrier named Cooper. He runs the show at our house.
Music: I’ve been singing since I was a child, some professionally, church worship teams, and I wrote and recorded a lullaby CD several years ago titled Baby Notes.
Movies: I’m a huge fan of old classic movies. I have too many favorites to name!
Thanks so much for letting me share.