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Bridge Of Scarlet Leaves
A beautiful, timeless love story...McMorris' words reach right off the page...
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Kristina McMorris answers questions about Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

Created: 03/12/12

Replies: 16

Posted Mar. 12, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 501

Expert

Kristina McMorris answers questions about Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

Kristina McMorris will be joining us over the next few days to answer questions about her book The Bridge of Scarlet Leaves. If you have a question for her please post it below...


Posted Mar. 12, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
sarahd

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 84

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Are any of the characters or scenarios based on your own relatives or their experiences?

I've read that you are of Japanese-American ancestry, are any of the characters or scenarios in the Bridge of Scarlet Leaves based on your relatives or their experiences?


Sarah D
Posted Mar. 12, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
JoannaM

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 11

How do you come up with ideas for your novels?

How do you come up with ideas for your novels? And do you have a particular way of working?


Posted Mar. 12, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
JuliaB

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 10

How important is research to your creative process?

How important do you think research is for the creative process? How did you conduct your research?


Posted Mar. 12, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
ioc

Join Date: 02/27/12

Posts: 3

When did FDR know that the Japanese planned to attack on Pearl Harbor?

In your research on Pearl Harbor where you able to pinpoint when FDR actually knew about the
Japanese plans to attack the base?


Posted Mar. 12, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
Santa Fe Cowgirl's Gravatar
Santa Fe Cowgirl

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 26

Have you ever done any research on the Santa Fe, NM internment camp?

Have you ever done any research on the Santa Fe, NM internment camp? It was a men's only camp, some 4 or 5,000 Nisei Japanese. To me, I thought that is where Lane's father was sent. It was practically at the base of Los Alamos!


Posted Mar. 13, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
rachelb

Join Date: 02/09/12

Posts: 5

Unfolding Events

This novel covered a huge span of time and events, so I wonder about how events unfold during your writing process. When you write about a major event for a character (like Lane's death), do you have an outline/timeline of events in mind from the start that are incorporated as you move along, or do you write as the story comes to you and reach a certain point in the narrative where you decide how a situation will resolve itself? Were there any points in your research where what you found had a profound effect on how you told the story?


Posted Mar. 13, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
KristinaMcMorris

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 9

Are any of the characters or scenarios based on your own relatives or their experiences?

Hi Sarah,

Ironically, my father, who is an immigrant from Kyoto, was born on December 7th--although a few years after the war. I often joke that I should have known long ago that I was destined to write about WWII! :)

To answer your question, no, I don't have direct family ties to the internment. However, my novel was initially inspired by an old family friend, a Nisei (Japanese American) who once shared with me that he had fought for the U.S. while his brother served for Japan. The idea fascinated me. It was while researching for that premise that I happened across an obscure mention of non-Japanese spouses living voluntarily in the camps, and I immediately knew I'd found my story. Thanks so much for asking!

Kristina


Posted Mar. 13, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
KristinaMcMorris

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 9

How do you come up with ideas for your novels?

Hi Joanna,

I tell you, I drool with envy over my author friends who have at least five exciting new story ideas tumbling around in their minds at any given time -- and if they weren't such nice people, I'd be tempted to fashion voodoo dolls in their likenesses. For each of my books so far (knock on wood), I've been fortunate enough to stumble across a true historical account that captivates me.

Once a premise latches on, I dive into research for several months. Discoveries along the way help shape the story until I envision it playing like a movie in my head, which is why I only write linearly. I then create a skeletal outline (i.e. one sentence description per chapter), narrowing down my research; otherwise, the vast scope of WWII could take me twenty years to cover!

Finally, I plant my toosh in the desk chair and type away Monday through Friday, even when a root canal sounds more appealing than writing from scratch, until our munchkins come home from school -- at which point my productivity rate plummets. You'd think kids would understand why crafting another chapter is more important than providing them with food, water, and other basic necessities....but, alas, no. Ha.

Kristina


Posted Mar. 13, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
KristinaMcMorris

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 9

How important is research to your creative process?

Hi Julia,

For writing historical fiction, I consider it essential. So many major elements of my story emerged from true accounts, plus I have such admiration for those so aptly dubbed "the Greatest Generation" that I don't feel I would be doing their accomplishments justice if I took shortcuts in writing about their experiences.

Some of my research adventures have included a flight on a B-17 (way more fun than work), learning to milk a cow, taking a pilgrimage to the Manzanar War Relocation Camp, and interviewing internees and Japanese American WWII veterans who served in the Military Intelligence Service. I even studied how to disassemble and reassemble an M2 Browning machine gun while blindfolded -- which my critique partner found rather unsettling. :)

If you'd like more details about my research, I hope you'll check out my Author's Note at the end of the novel. Thanks for the question. Needless to say, I LOVE discussing research for this book.

Kristina


Posted Mar. 13, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
KristinaMcMorris

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 9

When did FDR know that the Japanese planned to attack on Pearl Harbor?

Hi ioc,

I've always found that topic to be an interesting one. Aside from various theories I've read, I've also had the pleasure of listening to WWII veterans who hold their own firm beliefs of how "sneaky" the attack truly was, if FDR withheld info in order to justifiably propel the U.S. into war, and where the major communication breakdowns occurred.

Just last week, in fact, a Hawaiian WWII vet went into quite some detail with me regarding his thoughts on Japan's intent, but failure, to declare war just before the attack. Bottom line, I think it's safe to say -- as lovely a legacy as it might have been -- that I won't be named the brilliant historian who provided a definite conclusion on that point. :)

Kristina


Posted Mar. 14, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
dorothyt

Join Date: 04/10/11

Posts: 102

Expert

Any hints on your next project?

I am looking forward to reading more from you and would like to know what projects you have in the works for your next book. Will you give us any hints?


Posted Mar. 15, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
KristinaMcMorris

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 9

Have you ever done any research on the Santa Fe, NM internment camp?

Hi, Santa Fe Cowgirl! (Just typing your name makes me smile.)

Although I did a good amount of research on Manzanar in particular, I admit I only did some basic reading about the Santa Fe Internment Camp--which I refer to as a "detention center" in the book, only to prevent confusion among the majority of readers who view relocation camps as "internment camps."

To be completely honest, I learned that the Santa Fe internment camp officially opened a few weeks after my characters refer to it in the story. I would have preferred to adjust this in the book, but it had already gone to print. Ugh. My only consolation is that I've heard accounts of the FBI sending fathers there soon after Pearl Harbor Day, so for now I'll have to rely on those tales of "unofficial" detainment. (Of course, this still makes the historical stickler in me cringe.) :)

Kristina


Posted Mar. 15, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
KristinaMcMorris

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 9

Unfolding Events

Hi Rachel,

In order to get the green light on this book from my editor, I wrote a 20-page synopsis after about five months of research. So by the time I dove into the first chapter, I had determined most of the major plot points beforehand. This definitely helped narrow down what would otherwise have been an overwhelming amount of research. During that time, I happened across amazing nuggets of history that helped shape the story -- like Dopey's experience, for example.

I have to add, even though I'm a plotter, I'd originally set out to write the synopsis without knowing if Lane was going to make it home. I had a strong feeling one of the major characters wouldn't -- this was world war, after all -- and decided that if *I* didn't know, the reader wouldn't know. But...by the time I came to that point in writing the synopsis, it became very clear to me how the story needed to end. I personally am not a fan of gratuitous elements in books, or movies for that matter -- be it love scenes, violence, swearing, or tragedies. Therefore, I gave the ending a great deal of thought, and I realized this was the only way for all of the other characters to complete their character growth (TJ with his Dad, Kumiko's connection to Maddie and America, and Maddie's full understanding of Lane's service and Bach's piece, which in turn affected her father).

I hope that answers your questions. Thanks for reading!

Kristina


Posted Mar. 15, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
KristinaMcMorris

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 9

Any hints on your next project?

Hi Dorothy,

Thanks so much for asking. I'm delighted you're interested in reading more!

My novella, THE CHRISTMAS COLLECTOR, will be released late October of this year in a holiday anthology headlined by Fern Michaels. The story features Jenna Matthews, the daughter of a former hoarder, who seeks catharsis through her career as an estate liquidator. However, while preparing for a sale just before Christmas -- a season of "junk" exchanges she despises -- she stumbles across a shoebox of wartime memorabilia that reveals the secret past of an elderly woman, and soon leads Jenna on a hunt to understand the true value of keepsakes, holidays, and memories. (A young version of the elderly woman actually appears as a minor character in my debut novel, LETTERS FROM HOME.)

Other than that, I have two more novels on contract with my publisher. So once my current book tour settles, I'll be diving into the first one, currently titled THROUGH MEMORY'S GATE. In between, I'm hoping to sleep on occasion. <g>

Kristina


Posted Mar. 16, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
marthad

Join Date: 05/10/11

Posts: 25

Writing unlikable characters

I always wonder how authors feel about their unlikeable characters. Are the any characters you particularly don't like and how do you deal with writing them?


Posted Mar. 16, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
KristinaMcMorris

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 9

Writing unlikable characters

Ooh, good question, Martha.

I imagine thriller writers face this situation all the time, with creating their pure-evil villains. In my case, there hasn't yet been a character I've written that I haven't cared for -- given that I know their histories and therefore understand why they act as they do. The seemingly cold Kumiko, for example, had a very clear reason for her resistance toward Emma and Maddie. As the author, I was privy to that information from the get-go, and was eager for quite some time to share her past with the reader. Unfortunately, as you know, I had to wait MANY chapters to do that. :)

I've learned, sometimes the hard way, that everyone in real life has a story that makes them who they are, or at the very least behave a certain way. In turn, I try to shape my characters using the same theory.

Kristina


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