Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Cherry Blossoms in the Storm

Today I'd like to welcome Bob and Gail Kaku, a husband and wife writing
duo, whose first historical novel, Cherry Blossoms in the Wind has
just released. I had the pleasure of participating in a critique group with
Bob and I can attest that this story is fascinating. The authors are close
enough to the subject matter that they bring an unmistakeable ring of
authenticity to the tale as they explore the different experiences of
Japanese Americans in World War II. 

Here's a short synopsis of the story:

Caught in the cataclysm of World War II, three Japanese American
brothers find their lives turned upside down. Akira Omura, the eldest,
is trapped in Japan in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor and is later forced
to serve in the Japanese army. Complicating matters is a love triangle 
between Akira, his beautiful fiancée, Emiko, and her former suitor,
Hiroshi Yamada.

In the United States, anti-Japanese hysteria runs rampant on the West
Coast, and the family is forced to evacuate from their home to a
temporary incarceration facility at Santa Anita Racetrack in Southern
California and then later imprisoned in an internment camp at Heart 
Mountain, Wyoming. Life behind barbed wire is brutal and 
de-humanizing conditions. Middle brother, Tad, believes the only 
hope for freedom is to serve in the U.S. Army. Youngest 
brother, Danny, fiercely protests against the government’s plan to 
draft Japanese American men while their families are still imprisoned, 
and ends up in a federal penitentiary.

All three brothers have their spiritual mettle tested. Akira in Japan 
introduces his fiancée to Christianity, which is essentially illegal in 
wartime Japan, and the Kempeitai (secret military police) persecute 
Christians for their faith.  Tad prays for the wounded on the 
battlefield and leads some men to the Lord. Danny drifts away from 
his faith.  When he discovers the woman he loves is dying from 
tuberculosis,  he desperately cries out to God. She receives a 
miraculous healing and he rediscovers his faith.  The Omura brothers 
traverse oceans and the even wider chasms of prejudice, hatred, and 
separation from loved ones, risking their lives to seek freedom and 
hope for the future.

Genre: Historical Fiction (World War II)
Published by Majesty House 2015
364 pages

Why I wrote this book?

World War II continues to be remembered as a significant epoch in 
United States history. Seventy years later, the war continues to evoke 
emotional responses from not only those who experienced it, but also 
from succeeding generations who have studied and understood its 
indelible imprint on humankind.

We’re proud of our heritage. We wrote this novel to honor the Nisei—
second generation—and Issei—first generation—Japanese Americans.  
They lived through a time of extreme prejudice and discrimination, 
even before World War II.  Unlike immigrants from Western and 
Northern Europe, Issei were not allowed to become naturalized 
American citizens. They were also prohibited from purchasing land 
in California, although some got around this restriction by acquiring 
land under the title of their American-born children.  Employment 
opportunities were extremely limited as well. Bob knew an older 
Japanese American man who had graduated with an engineering
 degree from MIT in the 1930s. However, this man became a landscape 
gardener. No company would offer him an engineering job, because he 
was Japanese American.

While there are many nonfiction books about the lives of Japanese 
Americans during WWII, there aren’t many novels. Recently, there 
have been a few published, such as Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by 
Kristina McMorris, whose mother is Japanese.

To my knowledge, we know of no other similar novels written from 
a Christian perspective. Cherry Blossoms in the Storm is unique.  This 
is important, because statistics show that less than 5% of Japanese 
Americans are Christians. So, we thought why not deliver the Gospel 
message by subtly wrapping it within an entertaining novel. 

In addition, less than 1% of people in Japan are Christians.  I don’t 
know whether this book will ever be translated into Japanese nor 
whether it would be well received in Japan.  I’ll have to see how the 
Lord leads in this area.

Writing a book with your spouse

Writing a book with your spouse is not for the faint-hearted. It’s 
somewhat akin to trying teach your spouse how to drive, if you can 
imagine that.  Cherry Blossoms in the Storm is the third book we’ve 
written together. Giving and receiving critiques to and from your spouse 
can be brutal. When you’re married to your coauthor, the veneer of 
politeness quickly gets rubbed off, and there are some days when you’re 
extremely upset with each other.  I’d like to say, “Don’t try this at home,” 
but then, where else would you try it?

All you can do is to try to be honest without being too mean and try to 
praise your spouse when he or she has written something particularly good.  
And, of course, praying and praying together helps immensely.


  1. Oh, wow. My heart slips just thinking of this. Truly a book worth reading.

    I laughed when you wrote about writing with your spouse not being for the faint-hearted. Although I have never written with my husband, it's a surety that if we're going to work on a building project together, hammers will fly!

    Are there any further writing projects planned?

    1. I've started another novel set in the 16th century Japan when Christianity was first introduced. The faith was brutally stamped out by the government, and many Christians were martyred. I don't know where this story is going yet.

    2. I've started another novel set in the 16th century Japan when Christianity was first introduced. The faith was brutally stamped out by the government, and many Christians were martyred. I don't know where this story is going yet.

  2. What a sad but interesting setting for a novel. No shortage of conflict and lessons on forgiveness. I interviewed some missionaries in Japan some years ago for a magazine article, so I knew there were very few Christians in the country. I didn't realize the number was so low for Americans with Japanese ancestry, however.

    I can't imagine writing with my husband. He'd be saying, "Men don't really think like that, you know." Maybe if we divided up so that he wrote the parts in male POV and I wrote those in female POV...

    I was a Golden Heart finalist with Kristina McMorris and her mother. (I think they were co-writers too.) Kristina is Japanese on her father's side. It was cute to see pictures of KM and her mother together. Kristina looks Japanese but has a European surname curtesy of her husband -- and her mother looks European but has a Japanese surname curtesy of her husband.

  3. Thanks for such an interesting post and the introduction to Bob and Gail. I'd love to read this story. It was a terrible time in our histories, and I have a soft spot for Japan, her citizens and Japanese-Americans.

  4. Welcome Bob and Gail. Thanks for stopping by to share about Cherry Blossoms on the Wind. It really is such a fascinating topic. It's interesting too that the main characters are all men, another unusual twist for the CBA.

    1. The correct title is Cherry Blossoms in the Storm.

  5. This sounds so interesting. I love books set in WWII. And there are too few male MCs in the CBA. I would like to read this story. :)


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