Monday, April 26, 2010

Warriors in the Crossfire by Nancy Bo Flood

Today is the first day of the Warriors in the Crossfire book tour hosted by Kidz Book Buzz!

I suggest you watch THE BOOK TRAILER first.

I'll give you a heads up of my plan for this tour: Today I am going to share part of an e-mail interview I had with Nancy Bo Flood(that I think you will really enjoy), to
morrow come back for my thoughts on the book, and Wednesday I will post the rest of the interview.

Marie: Everything in your book seems so realistic- what kind of research did you do to be able to make everything seem so real?
Nancy Bo Flood: Thank you, Marie, what a wonderful comment. I must admit, I did about 10 years of research– but some very fun, exciting, and even some delicious and “dangerous” research.
Research is searching for information and understanding. I swam with turtles - and the sharks. I paddled out across the reef, got scared to death as sharks circled our kayak. I tipped over my kayak in the deep sea beyond the reef where the ocean goes down forever into darkness, and was terrified. That’s what Kento felt and it was no fun. Having the shadow of a shark slide over you is terrifying. It was also part of research. Of course, eating mangoes, coconut, papayas and breadfruit were part of research too. Even tasting a raw octopus! Climbing up a cliff, sitting in a stinky damp cave, listening to the sound of the surf and trying to find words that capture it.
Research was spending time with people on Saipan of all ages who wanted to “talk story.” I also spent days in the library reading accounts of the war, watching film footage of battles, talking with both American and Japanese veterans – all part of learning many layers about a time in history and about people who live on an island in the Pacific.
Read it, live it, ask it. Then listen, listen, listen. Keep collecting images, sounds, smells, ideas, information. Remember the joy, kindle the passion, and begin writing.”
Marie: Where did you get the inspiration to write Warriors in the Crossfire?
Nancy Bo Flood: How seldom we think about the families and especially the children who live where wars are fought. Saipan is a tropical island in the western Pacific, the kind one imagines with sweeping white sand beaches and clear turquoise-blue waters. But World War II haunts both land and sea. I stood at the Suicide Cliff where hundreds leaped to their deaths. In the sea and on the beaches the presence of war washes in and out like the tide. When I wrote Joseph's story, I wanted to write a story of hope, realistic and honest, but also one that expressed not only the horror and destruction of war but the amazing resiliency of the human heart to rebuild and forgive.
Few Americans know that Saipan is a political entity of the US, and is called the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. These islands are where Magellan found refuge when he was lost on his voyage around the world. These islands became critical locations were the final Pacific battles of WWII were fought, where the air force bomber, the Inola Gay, was loaded with the atomic bomb and then flew to Hiroshima. Japan surrendered and WWII ended. All of these events began on Saipan.
Marie: Which scene did you find the most fun to write?
Nancy Bo Flood: What a fun question! Whenever little Taeyo bounced around on the page, I was smiling. What a mischief-maker! He almost dropped the machete on Joseph’s bare feet. He pounced on Joseph when he wanted some attention. He never ran out of questions to ask.
Marie: Where did you find the poems that preface each chapter? Why did you decide to use them?
Nancy Bo Flood:
An interesting question you ask about “where did I find the poems that preface each chapter?”
I found them within each chapter.
Poetry captures an essence. Poetry invites the reader to participate, to see anew. Narrative, the novel, captures an experience, usually the unfolding experience of a character in conflict that creates change.
Each of the beginning poems came from the events that happened in the chapter. I searched and chiseled until only an essence remained. My model was haiku, inspired by the poetry of Basho, Rumi and Eloise Greenfield.
Poetry is an essential element throughout Warriors. Poetry reflects Joseph's transitions from rebel to warrior, from student to teacher. What better source than some of the oldest poetry, Basho's haiku, a riddle in metaphor that captures the essence of change. Basho's brief poems invite readers to bring into the metaphor their own meaning. There are no right or wrong “answers.” For example:
An ancient pond
A frog jumps in
The splash of water.
What is that ancient pond? Why a frog? And the splash? What’s that all about?
A ten-year old reader said to me – “the splash starts the ripples and the frog? The frog is war.”
· Each poem introduces and summarizes the chapter’s theme, but adds layering, an essence of what happens. For example, Journey (54) reads:
· Geckos chirped,
· Kingfishers squawked,
· Dogs barked.
· This is home.
· War cannot come here.
· Cannot.
· Debbie Gonzales described the emotional effect best: “feel that rhythmic wave-like motion in the words. Back and forth, back and forth, only to come to a crashing halt with the final word ‘cannot’. Geckos…kingfishers…dogs…home… all symbols of the safe and familiar. And then BOOM, a harsh foreshadowing of things to come…war…here…cannot, cannot.
· One more? War reads (102):
· Moonlight
· Shines silver
· Across breadfruit leaves,
· Broken shards of light,
· Broken dreams,
· Broken.
· See the picture, the metaphor? All is beautiful – the silver light cascading across the breadfruit tree, the primary source of sustenance for the native people of Saipan. And one event transforms moonlight into glass-like shards slicing, destroying all that was once cherished, sabotaging dreams, and shattering souls.
All that in a few lines of poetry and then it takes the whole chapter to show it.

Now, before I sign off for the day, here is a list of some of the other bloggers on this tour! check them out!

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