Growing up in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California was, for me, idyllic. It was a time before stories of smog, drugs, gangs, terrorists, E.coli, corporate greed, or identity theft were in the news every night. I walked to and from school with my friends, and played dodge ball, hopscotch and jacks during recess. At home we played hide and seek, kick the can, and hit the bat. TV and movies had no ratings and lyrics to songs were easily discernible.
My father was a great story teller; so much so that often, we could only distinguish one of his tall tales from the truth by the dimples that appeared even without his smile. He and my mother encouraged my growing imagination and ultimately, I too became a story teller, but on paper. Sometimes those stories were short, sometimes long, and sometimes they appeared as limericks or haiku. Although I still write in all those forms, my favorite is probably the mid-length novel.
My mother was a fine artist and although I could never master painting, I did inherit her sense of color and design. My grandmother taught me to sew when I was five and I made my first quilt before I was six. Quilting connects me to them, to other women, and to history, and continues it to be one of my favorite pastimes. As a child I loved to color. I’ve always thought of quilting as coloring for adults.
Both of my parents were amateur photographers and I have carried on with that tradition. After taking a course at Chatauqua Institute in New York, I’ve developed an increasing interest in photographing the small town where I live. I’m particularly fascinated by old buildings that have survived, as well as old vehicles and equipment from the local farms. Vacations always find me with a camera in hand.
I’d like to be a gardener: I’d like to enjoy digging in the dirt and growing flowers from seeds. I’d like to think that transplanting and separating and propagating plants was fun. The truth is, I don’t. But, I often write out on my patio so I have created a garden there, which requires little maintenance, to surround me when I work. It’s filled with pink and yellow and white flowers, trees that rustle in the breeze and over a dozen wind chimes. For me, it’s an enchanted place and I feel blessed to call it my home.
My first book, Pueblo Summer, was written after I spent a vacation on a pueblo in New Mexico. I fell in love with the slow pace, the beautiful people, the wonderful traditions and the delicious food. My sister-in-law was married to a Pueblo Indian and they both read and edited the Cloud Dancer books for accuracy and the observance of Pueblo tradition.
Dreams of Home was conceived after a friend’s grandmother told me stories of how she arrived, as a new bride, in Hawaii in the summer of 1941. That was the first time I’d ever imagined what it must have been like for young adults to live through the war years. My college roommate was a Japanese-American from Hawaii, and after her parents shared with me many of their memories of that time, I decided to write the book from their viewpoint. Again, I had a Japanese friend edit it to ensure, as much as possible, an accurate representation of the traditions of that culture.
In each book I have placed characters in real settings, and have attempted to remain true to those particular times and places. I hope you enjoy the mix of fiction and fact that I have incorporated into my work.
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Devoted to You
The second book of the Sweet Refrain series takes Emma Chandler back to Willette Women's College where she and her five dorm mates continue their journey toward a university degree and a greater understanding of themselves and their peers.
Till I Kissed You
Emma Chandler—only child; talented violinist—is on the brink of an exciting new life as a freshman at Willette Women’s College. But the day before she leaves for school, she finds her adoption papers. It’s bad enough that her boyfriend cheated on her last spring; her parents have been deceiving her for her entire life! Can Emma become who she wants to be before she finds out who she really is?
Dreams of Home
Grace Kawakami lives in paradise—at least that’s what they call Hawaii in 1941. But hell breaks loose in paradise on December 7, when Japan bombs Pearl Harbor and Grace’s world turns upside down.
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