Hi guys! This is the fifth feature for #CelebratingDebutantes2016! Maricar and I are posting alternately from August 5 all the way to September 30. Keep coming back for more features and giveaways. It's listed in the main Celebrating Debutantes page, which you can access by clicking the post over here >>> (top right). Today, we are featuring a dramatic and heart-wrenching historical novel, from a young girl's point of view - The Last Cherry Blossom..
Good morning, Kathleen! Thanks for taking the time to drop by.
Hi Precious! Thank you so much for having me on your blog! :)
Did you encounter any challenges in writing The Last Cherry Blossom? How did you deal with it? Because the main character, Yuriko was based on my mother, it took me a while to figure out how to describe her as a 12-year-old, not the person I knew as my mom. So once I began describing Yuriko as a fictional young girl in Japan, it was easier to then sprinkle some of my mother’s personality traits in the mix.
The other challenge for me was the order of events in her life. I would get bogged down in the details and forget that there is some fiction in this book, so that the exact events did not have to happen in the same timeline as in her life, or even be in the book at all for that matter.
I have read that the story is loosely based on your mother's firsthand experience. Aside from this, what kind of research did you do for the book to flesh out the story world of Yuriko? I spent many, many, many hours reading books written about how WWII affected the people in Japan. There were some books that had diaries of older people during the years that Japan was at war. Japan had been at war since 1937 with China. So by the time that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, the Japanese people had already been at war for four long years. By reading these accounts, I was able to get a better understanding on how the Japanese viewed their Emperor and the lengths some would go to support him. I researched newspaper headlines, radio show slogans, and propaganda poster copy.
My family visited the Hiroshima Peace Museum last year. We also honored my mother at the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for Atomic bomb victims. Being there in person and standing on the same ground that my mother and others experienced such horror and destruction, broke my heart. I tried to use that emotion for Yuriko’s reactions when I was doing revisions.
Was it difficult to slip into a young girl's mind to retell the story? What were the pros and cons of narrating a tragic story from a child's perspective? At first, yes. But once I focused more on how I might have reacted to those situations at 12-years-old, it became much easier.
Pros- more honest reaction, most likely to say what they are thinking
Cons- I had to be careful that Yuriko, didn’t act or say things as if she had the same knowledge or understanding that an adult would.
What is the message that you want readers to pick up from The Last Cherry Blossom? That nuclear weapons should never be used again on any country for any reason. Each person under the famous mushroom clouds of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were someone’s mother, father, sister, brother, or child.
If you could write a story in a different genre. What genre would it be and what would it be about? Perhaps a fantasy novel based on a Japanese fairy tale. :)
Thank you, Kathleen!
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Hardcover, 240 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by Sky Pony Press
Following the seventieth anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, this is a new, very personal story to join Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.
Yuriko was happy growing up in Hiroshima when it was just her and Papa. But her aunt Kimiko and her cousin Genji are living with them now, and the family is only getting bigger with talk of a double marriage! And while things are changing at home, the world beyond their doors is even more unpredictable. World War II is coming to an end, and Japan's fate is not entirely clear, with any battle losses being hidden fom its people. Yuriko is used to the sirens and the air-raid drills, but things start to feel more real when the neighbors who have left to fight stop coming home. When the bomb hits Hiroshima, it’s through Yuriko’s twelve-year-old eyes that we witness the devastation and horror.
This is a story that offers young readers insight into how children lived during the war, while also introducing them to Japanese culture. Based loosely on author Kathleen Burkinshaw’s mother’s firsthand experience surviving the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, The Last Cherry Blossom hopes to warn readers of the immense damage nuclear war can bring, while reminding them that the “enemy” in any war is often not so different from ourselves.
Thanks to Kathleen and Sky Pony Press for this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: Copy of The Last Cherry Blossom + Bookmarks
Scope: US and CA
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full schedule and links to the posts!