Hold on to your hats, folks, I’m about to get political.
In high school and college I was politically active. But as I grew older, and had to, you know, live next to people and volunteer at school with people and basically maintain friendships outside of college I stopped talking about my beliefs.
Discretion was the better part of valor. Far better to maintain cordiality than risk upsetting my carefully woven web of interdependence with other parents, co-workers, and friends.
But then the last couple years happened in the U.S. and I realized that my very silence, my reticence to discuss difficult topics, contributed to the current political climate where immigration and international policies have become problematic.
But how is a white, middle class fantasy-obsessed female nerd supposed to write about global relations when her brain is full of trickster Kitsune, romance, ancient dragons, and artisanal chocolate?
Dream Eater, the first in the Portland Hafu series, was an attempt to bring multi-culturalism in the form of Japanese and First People’s myths into Urban Fantasy. I wanted my own daughters to see more multi-racial heroines like themselves in the genre I loved best. Crazy, Rich Asians and To All the Boys I Loved Before highlighted multi-cultural Asians in mainstream romance and YA. They made me ecstatic, to my daughters’ embarrassment.
In Black Pearl Dreaming, my trio of main characters go to Tokyo to find answers about Koi’s Baku heritage and her father’s dementia. Instead of answers, Koi gets tangled up in the lingering hurts and aftereffects of World War II. Both Japan’s colonialism and the U.S.’s ignorant use of the Atomic Bomb figure into the plot. Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931. America dropped the bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. The soldiers and civilians who were alive to experience, and thus remember those atrocities, are nearing the end of their natural lifespan.
We, as a global community, must not forget the lessons we learned about the value of human life from Auschwitz nor Minidoka.
I purposefully wrote in references to Japan’s treatment of Koreans and Chinese as well as a graphic description of the aftermath of the Hiroshima Bombing from the perspective of an eyewitness.
And in the third book of the Portland Hafu: The Last Dream of Her Mortal Soul, which I am editing now, Koi and her boys return home to Portland to face political conflict containing echoes of World War II racism.
Don’t get me wrong. There is chocolate, coffee, and more magical creatures from Japanese mythology in Black Pearl Dreaming. Its entertainment. But I no longer feel I can create stories for the world that don’t include overt reference to the undeniable interwoven interdependence of our globalizing world. For better or for worse, technology means we are bound to each other, even across oceans.
And in Black Pearl Dreaming, Koi finds out how much hate and racism in the past still hurt those she loves today.