2490 Kalakaua Ave
Honolulu, HI 96815
The lights flickered on at the Hawaii Theater’s premier showing of the documentary, “The First Battle,” revealing why most Japanese in Hawaii were not interned in WWII. An Eureka moment. Only two weeks earlier, I had decided to write an historical novel. While I spent a lifetime in the corporate world on four continents, in my heart I always thought of myself as a writer. Married to a Japanese, living in Hawaii, I knew the story of the Nisei Territorial Guard, who were stripped of their uniforms weeks after Pearl Harbor only to enlist a year later when allowed, was the stuff of a good story.
BUT, these American-Japanese warriors did not just drop out of the sky on December 7th, 1941. They had mothers and fathers who left an improvised country to come to America. An immigrant story as rich as the Irish, the Italians, the Jews etc. Yet I could not find a single novel that told their story. Why? No matter. I would make it right. Picture Bride is volume 1 of a trilogy honoring the Japanese-Americans who fought for America in WWII.
A lover and reader of history, I have been fortunate to visit 200 countries and territories starting with the Peace Corps in Africa in 1966.
Born in Wisconsin in 1943, raised in Florida, I paid my way thought the University of Florida by selling books door-to-door. I finished my business career 41 years later as president of a Walt Disney licensee. McGraw Hill published my legacy business book “Making Millions in Direct Sales” in 2005.
Recent travel has centered on book research. Tomoko and I visited the island of Amakusa where the major export for two generations were their daughters to the Asian pillow trade. We walked through the cemetery in Sandakan, Borneo were many of those unfortunates were buried in their teens and twenties. From this experience, Haru, our picture bride, who escapes the Amakusan fate to become the mother of three Nisei soldiers, was born in my imagination.
We visited Hiroshima’s Fudoin temple … home to Haru for four years … to better understand the Hiroshima of 1905.We rode mules up the mountain side in Kalaupapa, Molokai to feel the life of lepers in 1912. We toured sugar cane plantation housing sites that were home to two generations of Japanese immigrants.
No moment doing research for Picture Bride was more rewarding than our lunch with Sue Isonaga, the 1939 au pair to FBI agent Robert Shivers. Sue’s quiet Americanism created grave doubts about Shivers’ assigned role to prepare the Japanese for internment in Hawaii. Sue has since passed away. I trust “Picture Bride” will help memorialize her contribution in preventing most Japanese in Hawaii from living in camps during WWII.