Cynthia Kadohata Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Cynthia Kadohata

Cynthia Kadohata

How to pronounce Cynthia Kadohata: ca-do-HAR-ta

An interview with Cynthia Kadohata

Cynthia Kadohata discusses her life and her books, in particular Kira-Kira, her first book for children, which won the 2005 Newbery Award.

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 fellowship.


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 interned.


What do you love besides your family?
Books, dark chocolate, and dogs, although I do consider my dog part of my family.


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 Angel.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

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