Other than Kira-Kira, what other books have you published? The Floating World, In the
Heart of the Valley of Love, and The Glass Mountains.
Although Kira-Kira is my first novel written specifically for
young readers, all three of my previous novels feature young main
characters. For my adult writing, I've received fellowships from the
National Endowment for the Arts and the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation. I
also received a Chesterfield Writer's Film Project screenwriting
Where were your parents interned during WWII?
My father and his family were interned in the Poston camp on the
Colorado River Indian Reservation in the Sonoran desert. One source
claims he thermometer in 1942 hit more than 140 degrees in the Poston
area. Weedflower, my next novel for Atheneum, involves a
friendship between a young Japanese American girl living in the
internment camp and a young Mohave boy living on the reservation.
My father was drafted out of the camp and assigned to the U.S. Army
Military Intelligence Service. Three full brothers whom he'd never met
lived in Japan. Two of them were killed during the war. He met the third
when he served in Japan for MIS.
My mother lived in Hawaii, where people of Japanese ancestry were not
What do you love besides your family?
Books, dark chocolate, and dogs, although I do consider my dog part of
What do you hate?
Carnival rides. Once at a carnival they had to stop a ride early so I
could get off. I stumbled off the ride, collapsed onto the ground, and
spent the rest of the night in the back seat of the car.
How did you first get published?
I wrote about forty different stories over four years and sent them to
magazines, especially The New Yorker and The Atlantic
Monthly . Eventually I sold one to The New Yorker.
Do you get along with your editor?
Yes. I do whatever she tells me. To clarify, first I storm around the
house and pout for a week or two. And then I do whatever she tells me.
I've known my editor for twenty years. We were roommates in graduate
school. We ate healthy foods during the week, and then once a week we
had a junk-food-a-thon and ate a lot of chips and dip. During the week
we went to aerobics classes and occasionally jogging.
What are your favorite children's books? One of my favorite children's books growing up was The
Diamond in the Window by Jane Langton. When I was an aspiring
writer, I actually met Jane Langton in a ladies' room. I was absolutely
thrilled, but she was just trying to go to the bathroom. I'm
embarrassed to say I bothered her for an autograph before she could
pee!! She was quite gracious.
I liked any books concerning animals, whether the animals were
horses, dogs, pigs, or dinosaurs. I loved The Call of the Wild
and still love it. Same with Lassie Come-Home. A couple of
other great books about animals are White Fang and Misty of
Chincoteague. And I read all the Newbery novels -- King of the
Wind and A Wrinkle in Time were special favorites.
A couple of my current favorites are Holes and Saffy's
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