I've just been playing with a book called Sister Soul that I have wanted to write for a couple of years. It's inspired by the book I wrote for my nephew a few Christmases ago about him in this fantasy adventure story. The story was too scary for a 7 year old, but his mother and aunt--both big readers--loved the idea. Sister Soul will be about them discovering they have super powers and different aspects of Japanese-American culture, including the interment camps. It will also include an experience from their childhood in which one girl lodged a chopstick into the back of her throat and was paralyzed for several weeks. (In my story, this sets off much of the conflict and magic.)
Here's some very rough first draft material. Since it's for an audience of about 3, I'm hoping to write it in just a couple of drafts:
The rhythms of the taiko drums were building to a climax. On the folding stage, arms and mallets moved in intricate patterns like the inner workings of a clock. Maria watched with a smile as she waited in the shade of a fig tree for her own performance to start. Around her, the sidewalks were packed with people. It was the launch of the Grand Parade in L.A.’s Little Tokyo. Nisei Week had begun.
Maria’s hair was pulled up into a bun, and her face had a light coat of makeup: rouge and lipstick—she never liked to put on too much. She wore a kimono that was mostly white, gradually transforming into a rich panel of glistening blue silk just over her right shoulder. Her obi was black and adorned with a simple pattern of red gingko leaves.
Maria had been dancing with the Kikuta Kai dance group for over ten years, ever since she was a young girl. Having been born and raised in Southern California, the dancing was one of the few things that kept her tied to her Japanese culture, something she was always afraid of losing. By now she was one of the more experienced dancers, even though several of the other women were years older than she was. After performances, strangers often came up to tell her on how talented she was. At the same time, Maria always felt like she was never quite good enough. Even at her best, she constantly felt slight errors in her arm movements and the angles of her head. The art demanded so much precision.
“You’re just being too hard on yourself,” her sister, Lynn, would tell her. But there was no denying it. In videos, she always found something to criticize about her performance.
The taiko players finished to thunderous applause. They always delighted the audience. As they prepared to leave the stage, the dance groups stepped into the street, the mingled colors of their various kimono and yukata slowly organizing as the members of each dance group gathered with one another. The sounds of their wooden geta shoes clacked against the asphalt.
“Remind me again, are you Sansei?” another dancer, Asami Tsukamoto, asked. She had approached suddenly from Maria’s left side, startling her a bit. Asami was true Nisei, the youngest daughter of parents who had immigrated to Los Angeles from Hokkaido. She was newly retired and had only recently joined Kikuta Kai.
“Yonsei,” Maria said. “I’m the great-granddaughter of immigrants on both my mother’s and her father’s sides. My father was actually born in Santa Anita.”
“Ah, really?” Asami said with wide eyes as she was struck by the realization of what that meant. Both of them suddenly became aware of their surroundings. A few minutes before the Grand Parade didn’t feel at all like an appropriate time to bring up the internment camps…or what it would have been like to still be living in Japan.
I've also been reading Murakami's "epic" 1Q84. I find myself hungry to read it every morning and evening. It's a strange book because the prose itself doesn't feel very sophisticated, but the story is so intricate and interesting. It's a page turner. I also joined a book club and will soon be reading The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. I know nothing about this book yet. But I like the title and the cover.
What's Peanut eating? Hot dog chunks.