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Americans Interned

"Gaijin" Summary: With a white mother and a Japanese father, Koji Miyamoto quickly realizes that his home in San Francisco is no longer a welcoming one after Pearl Harbor is attacked. And once he's sent to an internment camp, he learns that being half white at the camp is just as difficult as being half Japanese on the streets of an American city during WWII. Gaijin

When I was ten years old, I read a big stack of books about children and the Holocaust. I was horrified at the thought of children like myself being locked up in those terrible camps. One day my mom told me, “You know, we have family members who were put in an American prison camp during World War Two.”  I didn’t believe her. “America would never do something like that.” I said.

She sat me down and filled me in. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, by the Japanese navy, Americans became very frightened of all Japanese people, even those who were U.S. citizens. In 1942, the government took those fears to an extreme and imprisoned more than 112,000 people of Japanese ancestry in prison camps across western America. Over half of those interned were children and two thirds were U.S. citizens.

The camps were situated in extremely harsh country—mostly high desert, which was very hot in the summer, very cold in the winter. People were made to live in uninsulated tar-paper shacks. My mom told me that my great-aunt Adeline, her daughter, Mary, and Mary’s young children were a just few of those who were forced into one of these prison camps during the war—a camp called Manzanar.

I am not of Japanese descent; my ancestors came mostly from Ireland. So, I didn’t understand: How did my Irish American relatives end up in camps for Japanese Americans?   

Continue reading "Americans Interned" »

Justice League United: Exclusive Q&A with Writer Jeff Lemire

Ever go to the Canadian tundra to do research for a superhero comic? Jeff Lemire did, and he shares his ideas and motivation behind the research for his new Justice League United series. JusticeLeagueUnited

Charlie Chang: I’ve been a big fan of your Animal Man run and excited to see him join this new teaming you’re assembling for Justice League United. I’ve also been a fan of the Adam Strange character and happy to see him back in the DCU. I was told that you went to Canada and the tundra to do some research for the new Cree superhero.

Jeff Lemire: Yeah, well I’m from Canada but I spent a lot of time the last couple months visiting a really remote northern community in Canada called Moose Factory, Ontario and it’s home to one of our first nation’s Cree Nation. It’s a community and a culture that I’ve really become invested in in my own work. So I’ve spent a lot of time in the schools up there talking to kids and sharing my story with them and researching this new Cree superhero that we’re creating that will hopefully be a really positive role model for kids up there who really need it.

CC: How did that concept come about as far as drawing inspiration from that culture? Is this something you’ve wanted to do for a long time?

JL: Well a couple things inspired it, I decided I was moving the team to Canada and Canada is a really big country and from region to region is very diverse and each region has it’s own personality so I could either try and capture the whole personality in one comic book which would’ve been really hard or I could pick one specific area and really focus on that. First nation culture and aboriginal culture is something that I’ve had a growing interest in, just in the literature I’m reading and social issues I’m interested in so it felt like a really great way of taking my interests and put it into a superhero comic and hopefully it’ll be something really positive.

CC: The makeup of the team is so interesting just based on the first look of Cover #0. This might be an odd question but is there any significance to the frog, the owl, and the monkey surrounding Animal Man (Buddy Baker)?

Continue reading "Justice League United: Exclusive Q&A with Writer Jeff Lemire" »

The Unpossible Worlds of Daryl Gregory

71aBBuC5N4L._SL1500_Contributor Fleetwood Robbins is an editor, writer, and speculative fiction enthusiast.

“Everyone develops a tolerance to happiness,” or so says Lyda Rose, the main character of Daryl Gregory’s excellent new novel, Afterparty. It’s a cynical line from a sincere character, but it might be a sincere line from a cynical character. I’m not quite sure which. I am sure, however, that Mr. Gregory wrote that line long before Pharrell’s ear worm topped the charts. No one develops a tolerance to that song.

Whatever the case, cynical or sincere, there is a fuzzy, demilitarized zone between the two concepts that illustrates one of the great strengths of Daryl Gregory’s work: He is able to negotiate a détente between the warring factions of science fiction and fantasy that obviates the need for distinction. The two are inseparable and, ultimately, inconsequential.

“Fantasy involves that which the general opinion regards as impossible; science fiction involves that which the general opinion regards as possible under the right circumstances.” Or so says Valis, a Philip K. Dick stand-in who appears in Gregory’s debut novel Pandemonium. The trick, he elaborates, is that the objective truths for what is possible and impossible are often occulted by the reader’s subjective belief. Do I believe in the possibility of extraterrestrial life, to use an extreme example, or do I believe the Earth is a unique planet in the cosmos? Whether true or false, my answer informs how I might classify a book that takes either assertion as true.

Questions concerning what is possible are almost immaterial when it comes to Daryl Gregory’s work. Like the best speculative fiction, his stories are not predictive of a future landscape. Rather, they describe the world we live in vis-à-vis an extrapolative fantastic reality, whether it’s a world in which demonic possession is a pervasive scientific/cultural phenomenon, as is the case with Pandemonium, or one in which an underclass of live undead might organize behind a the leadership of a zombie messiah, as it is in the author’s third novel, Raising Stony Mayhall.

In the not-to-distant future of Afterparty, Gregory’s latest novel, “any high school student with a chemjet and an internet connection can download recipes and print drugs.” The societal problems such a scenario would present are inherent. We know how this could go, but imagine if there were a recipe for a drug that facilitated a permanent union between the user and the godhead.

The aforementioned Lyda Rose, with the help of her colleagues, developed just such a drug. Lyda herself suffers from schizophrenia brought on by an overdose NME 110, dubbed Numinous, although her attending angel might disagree with the clinical diagnosis. Crazy or sane, Lyda and her colleagues suppressed the drug for fear of what effects it might have on the population at large. So when evidence Numinous has resurfaced becomes apparent, Lyda knows she has to find out which of her old partners has leaked the recipe. Through the chase to find the source of the Numinous, the author is able to tackle big questions about issues of faith, truth, and love without any hint of pedantry.

In his second novel the Devil’s Alphabet, Gregory uses a genetic disease that mutates victims into one of three distinct biological types—hairless, seal-like betas; enormous, gray-skinned argos; and the grotesquely obese charlies—to frame a story in which an unaffected survivor of the outbreak is drawn home by the apparent suicide of his childhood friend. It’s also a bit of a gothic murder mystery.

While combining all these elements might be disastrous for a less talented writer, Gregory handles them masterfully. In his short story collection, Unpossible and Other Stories, Gregory takes readers through stories about religion, neuroscience, and superheroes.  

However you classify Mr. Gregory’s work, the author’s greatest strength lies in his ability to mirror our culture’s current discourses; faith versus rationality; truth versus delusion; madness versus civilization; intoxication, the greatest of the Dionysian excesses, versus the disciplined sobriety of Apollo. It’s all present in these narratives populated with inexplicably true, three-dimensional characters.

Daryl Gregory is not just an author you should know; he’s an author you should read. He’ll make you like science fiction . . . or maybe fantasy. I’m not sure which.

 

 

A Young World

51r1EHRfFoLContributers David Dalglish and Robert J. Duperre-the authors of The Breaking World books, gives us an intimate look into the series.

Fantasy can come in a lot of different shapes and forms. There’s Tolkien’s whimsy, Sanderson’s detailed magic systems, Salvatore’s staple fight scenes, and Martin’s grittiness. But if they have one thing common, it’s that their worlds are old and detailed. Everyone’s in their 12th epoch or fiftieth cycle or third age. Each mythology has its own backstory, its own fairy tales and legends, that add to the depth of the narrative. However, when we were looking at creating The Breaking World, we wondered if we could do something different. What if, instead of an ancient world, we wrote a young one? What if humanity wasn’t thousands of years old, but less than a hundred?

And most interesting of all...what if the gods who created mankind still walked among them?

With The Breaking World series, we could let the reader follow along with the initial wars that sundered the world of Dezrel. The reader would get to see the creation of the many beasts and monsters that hide in the dark corners of most fantasy worlds. Telling the story of a coddled human race, one guarded by their gods, blessed with magic and healing, and given wisdom and invention instead of earning it on their own, allowed us to hit on concepts of faith, loyalty, and war in ways that cannot be done otherwise.

The bones of the events that shaped the world were already in place, detailed through fourteen books in three separate series that came before. The challenge for us was to take those bones and put meat on them, muscle and sinew that would give this rather expansive tale the humanity it required in order to be intriguing. Now, all we had to do was make the plot emotionally relevant. To do that, we had to give voices to the gods themselves.

Interactions between the brother gods of Dezrel, Karak and Ashhur, were fun to construct, particularly when it came to matters of faith. What does doubt mean when you can walk up to your creator and question his decisions? With the gods going to war, where does your loyalty lie, with the being that created you, or the one you agree with? As armies form, and animals become twisted in size and intelligence to fight as loyal, brutal soldiers...how would people react?

And that, in a nutshell, is what this series is about. The people who inhabit the world, the doubt they feel, the onset of human ambition and its price. If Dawn of Swords is about the fall from grace, then Wrath of Lions brings about the brutality of war, the darkness of the human heart, the conflict of choices that one must make every day. You could say that Dezrel is similar to the world we all inhabit, one in which the virtue of goodness is oftentimes not praised but seen as a weakness. Where war has dire consequences, as there will be when Blood of Gods is released in October. Which begs the question, where do we go from here?

Yes, this is a brutal series, but there is also a thread of hope shimmering just beneath the surface. That’s what we hope to bring you, the reader: an adventure that will make your heart pound, filled with roaring lions, clashing gods, gory battles, and emotional turmoil. Which is all you can really ask for from any fantasy world. 

Guest Blogger: Julia MacDonnell, author of "Mimi Malloy, At Last!"

Mimi Mally, At Last!Julia MacDonnell’s fiction has been published in many literary magazines, and her story “Soy Paco” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her journalism has appeared in The Boston Globe, the New York Daily News, and the Columbia Journalism Review, among other publications. A tenured professor at Rowan University, she is the nonfiction editor of Philadelphia StoriesMimi Malloy, At Last! is her first novel in twenty years. It serves as a a poignant reminder that it’s never too late to fall in love and that one can always come of age a second time.

My childhood was an immersion course in the lives of girls and women.  I grew up with eleven aunts and twenty-five girl cousins, all living within a hop, skip, or a jump of one another on the South Shore of Boston.  I also had a paternal grandmother and a maternal great-grandmother close by.  Sure, I had an uncle for almost every aunt, as well as a paternal grandfather and a bunch of rowdy boy cousins, but it was the women who schooled me, and their teaching tool was the Yik Yak Club: its members, the curators of their family’s oral history.

Not that I had a name for it back when I was a kid, sneaking around to eavesdrop on Ma and my aunts as they gathered at our kitchen table, drinking cup after cup of percolated Eight O’Clock coffee.  The name came to me when I was writing my second novel, Mimi Malloy, At Last!.  The narrator, Mimi, has no use for ancient history, declaring early on, “I’m not one to dwell on the past.”  By contrast, my mother, Norma, loved nothing better than a good gab session with her sisters and sisters-in-law. She’d be the one to call the meetings, almost always around our kitchen table.  A cirrostratus of cigarette smoke would signal that a gab fest was in session.  Worried about their figures, these women smoked instead of snacking, Ma cadging butts from her sisters because she’d never dare light up in front of my father.  

What could be so riveting, I wondered as a child, that it transformed these women from familiar aunts and mothers into luminous creatures whose voices, laughter and, at times, sobs floated around on smoky air? 

Only while I was writing Mimi did I figure out the answer. I figured out that the Yik Yak Club was a place of comfort and support for its members, a place where they could confide in each other, sharing words they couldn’t say to anybody else.  Yes, serious family business was sometimes negotiated and resolved during its sessions, but the most important thing seemed to be that they were together, a small, bright gathering of women, mothers in their twenties and thirties — in my mind’s eye, all of them are beautiful — their cheeks flushed, their eyes bright.  These weren’t women with time on their hands, but women who squeezed out of the endless hours of mothering and housewifery a bit of time to be together.

The post-World War II years, the 50s and 60s, are portrayed as decades of oppression when women stuck at home in subservient roles, an epoch before our collective consciousness had been raised.  In my family, most women had worked at the Fore River Shipyard during the War.  Their subsequent ability to stay home and raise their children was experienced as a gift. As little as they had, they gloried in their homes and families, and in their role in making the arduous ascent from the working to the middle class.  I’m convinced that the Yik Yak Club eased their way, giving them not just a forum for venting, though that mattered, but a place for listening, which they did in awe and wonder, each of them shaping herself into who she would become.  The Yik Yak Club I witnessed growing up was the school in which I learned about the perils and joys of mothering, sistering, wifing, and housekeeping; where I absorbed my most important lessons about how to be a woman alive in the world.  

--Julia MacDonnell

Guest Post: James Dashner and Brandon Mull

PowerpackJames Dashner and Brandon Mull, two of the authors featured in The 39 Clues, Infinity Ring, and Spirit Animals Powerpack, let us sit in on a high-stakes game of “Would You Rather.” Read on to learn a little bit about what makes these authors tick.

Brandon: Would you rather live in the past or the future?

James: Ooh, that’s a tough one. I’m so fascinated by the past, and it would be a lot of fun to travel back and check some things out. However, I love technology, too, and it’d be cooler than anything to see what lies in store in the next hundred—or even thousand—years.

Brandon: So, which one? You have to choose.

James: Okay, the past. History wins. Here’s one for you: Would you rather have a spirit animal that made you faster or stronger?

Brandon: I’m gonna go with stronger. I could protect my family, jump really high, and pick up trucks.

James: Pick up trucks? Why would you do that?

Brandon: I’m giving you a blank stare right now. Who wouldn’t want to pick up a truck?

James: Fair point.

Brandon: Would you rather visit Narnia or Oz?

James: Narnia, for sure. I want me some of that Turkish Delight. And flying monkeys scare me. Would you rather be lost in a man-made maze or a forbidden forest?

Brandon: I’m thinking maze. I mean, come on, all you have to do is that bit with keeping your right hand on the wall until you find an exit. Not sure how you turned that into an entire series, man. No offense.

James: None taken. I have a movie coming out.

Brandon: Ouch. You know, if the goal is in an interior portion of the maze where the walls don’t connect to the outer ones, the hand on the wall thing doesn’t work. I could draw a diagram for the director. Have they filmed it yet?

James: Yes.

Brandon: Okay, would you rather go an entire year without the Internet or without seeing a movie?

James: Without the Internet. That’ll just give me more time to see movies. And read books.

Brandon: Best. Answer. Ever.

Continue reading "Guest Post: James Dashner and Brandon Mull" »

New Kindle Personal Documents Features

We are excited to announce an improvement to the personal document experience on Kindle. 

Personal documents are now in Amazon Cloud Drive: Starting today, all personal documents that you have archived in your Kindle Library will be available to access, delete, organize, and share from your Amazon Cloud Drive. You can see these documents in a new “My Send-to-Kindle Docs” folder on Amazon Cloud Drive alongside all of your saved content such as photos and personal videos. 

There is no action required on your part. Your personal documents features will continue to work just as they have in the past. And as always, you can use Manage Your Kindle to see a list of your documents, re-deliver them to Kindle devices and free reading apps, delete them, or turn off auto-saving of documents to the cloud. Documents will be delivered just as they have in the past and you will continue to have 5 GB of free cloud storage for your personal documents.  Just “Send Once, Read Everywhere.”

Documents saved in their native format: Also starting today, new documents that you save to the cloud with Send to Kindle will be stored in their native format (e.g. MS Word, RTF, TXT) so you can access them anywhere from Amazon Cloud Drive.

To learn more about sending documents, news, blogs, and other web articles to your Kindle, please visit www.amazon.com/sendtokindle

To learn more about Amazon Cloud Drive features and apps, please visit www.amazon.com/clouddrive/learnmore

Author Jay Crownover Discusses Opposites in Romance

Jay Crownover, author of "The Marked Men series," reflects on why the differences in characters make romance all the better. Her new book, Nash, releases April 29.

NashImageCropOpposites attract. It’s a trope that’s been around since the beginning of romantic literature and it’s always struck a chord with readers. Face it. It’s just more fun when a poor heroine is swept off her feet by the rich guy, and the bad boy is tamed by the sweet and innocent good girl.

I particularly enjoy using opposites in romance because there are so many of them to explore. Opposites in social class, looks, beliefs, upbringing. There are countless ways to pit two people against each other and then ultimately show that none of those differences matter as long as they love one another.

I usually focus on opposites in the couples I write, because I love breaking down all those differences as the story goes along. Even more, I enjoy showing the reader that some preconceived notions attached to certain stereotypes are wrong. Just because a boy is tattooed from head to toe doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy or an outlaw. And just because a girl is beautiful and comes from a well-to-do family doesn’t mean she’s happy. It’s all the stuff under the surface that connects people and makes them similar that is fun to play with.

In my new book Nash, I wrote the male lead specifically to play with the idea of appearances not telling the whole story. His outward looks are all rough and tough, big and scary, and tattooed bad ass, but at his core, Nash is really a sweet, kind, very gentle man. The same can be said for his leading lady, Saint. I wanted her to sort of have this ethereal quality, this outward appearance of being somewhat innocent and untouched. But at her center, Saint is an extremely hard and jaded young woman who has so many obstacles to get past in order to find her happy ever after. In Nash the hero and heroine aren’t really so different from one another, instead they fly in the face of what the outside world may project on them based off their looks alone.

I think the reason story lines about opposites are so popular is that the notion that true love can find a way through any set of circumstances or differences is a heartwarming one. These stories give readers and romantics hope and show perseverance against all odds. Everyone, deep down wants to believe that love really can conquer all. Plus when the hero and heroine do have major differences it makes the journey that much more fun  and the result even more satisfying when they finally find their way to a happy ever after!

Interested in romance? Sign up for Romance Delivers, a weekly email featuring the best in romance each week - from weekly booklists to deals and exclusive content from authors.

The Intersection Between the Mythic and the Real

Writer, Erik Bear of the Foreworld Saga's comic book spin-off mini-series, The Dead God, talks about the things that only the comic book medium can do with a story and world like The Foreworld Saga. TheDeadGod3

The line between myth and history is pretty thin. It starts with regular people doing fairly regular things (or at least as regular as founding nations and fighting wars and all that tends to be). Then, over the years, the stories just get embellished more and more and eventually these people who (presumably) used to be real are off fighting hydras and raising the dead and all the stuff of your stock fantasy epics.

Which is where The Dead God comes in. Because Foreworld is a fantasy epic, but it’s one set in our world, where magic is not real. Or is it? Because that’s the thing, you can’t really know the entirety of what’s out there, especially not in the Dark Ages. There’s a reason we call this era of Foreworld the “Age of Myth and Mist”. The Roman Empire has fallen and western civilization has gone with it. The world is getting colder, bandits are everywhere, and it’s basically, as I described it, medieval post-apocalyptic.

So into this bleak landscape ride these three heroes, Coll the bowman, Eadhild the axe-wielding warrior-woman, and Valens, the handsome and dashing bard who happens to be the one who’s telling the story. They’re sent out on a quest to find the still-living severed head of the sky god Yvrnn, which legend says whispers powerful wisdom to those who find it. To get to it, they’ll have to pass three trials, and defeat the evil spirits who are following at their heels…

...At least, that’s the way the story goes. The Dead God is about that intersection between the mythic and the real. One of the things I wanted to do that you can only really do in a comic book is seamlessly transition from the real world to the mythic world, panel-to-panel. Which Haiwei Hou really does amazingly well, by the way, she’s equally adept both at the grungy medieval look and the illuminated-manuscripty style. If you see things a certain way it’s all magic and demons and bandit kings, and if you see things another way it’s just a bunch of very cold, very dirty people scrabbling at each other over this old head in a box.

But sometimes there is truth in the old tales. Sometimes these myths and stories and rhymes are just disguised versions of the real truth. As regular readers of The Mongoliad and all the other Foreworld stories will know, we built a lot of secret history and mysticism into the world that we only began to hint at. Dead God has a few more pieces of the puzzle - a few more branches of the tree, if you will. In fact, there’s a lot of secrets in here, if you dare to see how deep the roots go...

Also, a woman fights a bear. So I don’t know what more you’d want out of a comic.

 

This guest blog was written by Erik Bear and presented by Amazon Publishing's Jet City Comics. Interested in comics and graphic novels? Sign up for Comics Delivers, a weekly email featuring the best in comics each week - from weekly booklists to deals and exclusive content from creators.

Guest Blogger: "Squeeze Play" Author Cal Ripken, Jr.

Squeeze-playWith the start of a new baseball season, kids are hitting the field and parents are taking to the stands. In Squeeze Play, Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. coaches kids--and their parents--on being good sports.

Growing up, my dad was a manager of minor league teams in the Orioles' organization and as a result, we were exposed to the game in a unique way. Most people believe that Dad stood over us and created young ball players. The opposite was actually true. He was there for us but never pushed, and while he was on the road with the team, it was Mom who took us to practice and watched most of our games. And she, like Dad, was very supportive; never the kind of parent who took the joy out of the game.

In my most recent book, Squeeze Play, we were able to take a look at the role parents and mentors play, and how their response in the stands and off the field could negatively affect their kids and teammates. 

So many times, parents overreact to everything that happens, the positive and the negative. 

I believe in a simpler approach. Kids notice all of their parent's actions at their games, so while it can be challenging, I would encourage parents to react to all things on the field the same way and minimize the highs and lows. 

In Squeeze Play, the goal was to make parents aware of how some of their responses in the stands affect their kids and teammates. I also wanted to give the kids ideas about how to deal with that. Confiding in your coach or another adult could help you deal with these types of situations. 

Let me stress that the vast majority of parents who behave this way don't realize what they're doing, and most have the best intentions. Once they are made aware, they want to change their behavior and depressurize the situation for their children. 

Another issue I am often asked about is specialization and when kids should focus on one sport. 

I'm an advocate of kids developing by playing multiple sports. There are mental and physical advantages to playing other sports. 

Mentally, you don't get burned out if you're not doing the same thing over and over again. New sports keep you fresh and give you different challenges. Physically, you can develop your athleticism by having other sports challenge your athleticism differently.

I played soccer in high school and, looking back, I believe it kept me in great shape and developed my hand/eye coordination. Putting the glove down for a while always allowed me to maintain my love of the game and avoid burn out.

Encourage your kids in sports; let them have fun, and the rest will take care of itself.