Meet author Patricia Kiyono
today at the Book Boost!
**All month long at the Book Boost we're featuring my fellow Astraea Press authors. Come back each day for more and be entered to win a Digital Reader Prize Pack (see below for details)!**
St. Patrick's Day is over, but we don't have to stop celebrating, because all of March is designated as Irish-American Heritage Month. There's even a Presidential Proclamation and everything, so it's official.
My own heritage is Japanese, so we probably ought to celebrate Asian-American Heritage Month in May. However, my family has always felt a direct connection to the Irish. That's because my father's family lived in Michigan during the Second World War. Dad was in high school during the entire war, and his older brother enlisted in the Army. Since Dad and his parents were the only Japanese-Americans in the area, they were not relocated to the camps in the western part of the United States.
They were allowed to stay in their home, but they were taken to the Grand Rapids Federal Building and fingerprinted, and Dad told me about times when an ominous black car followed him home from school. It must have been a really difficult time for him and his family. Though they had never caused any trouble, they were treated with distrust. There were many people who made it a point to torment him because of his heritage.
But Dad was lucky to have several loyal high school friends who looked out for him. During school sporting events they ran interference when bullies from other schools wanted to harass him. They gave him a nickname–Irish. A running joke among Dad's friends was that when people asked him where he was from, he'd say, "I'm Irish." So they played along. Later on, he continued the joke when he named his children Pat and Mike. And he laughed with glee when my younger brother was born on St. Patrick's Day. (Since they already had a Pat, my parents made Patrick his middle name!)
I shared this story with the people who gathered for Dad's funeral five years ago. I thought it was a great illustration of the way my dad dealt with the difficulty of being a member of an unpopular minority—with stoicism, laced with humor. Fortunately for us, times have changed. Unlike previous generations of my family, my daughters and nieces were not the only children of Asian descent in their schools. We are no longer in danger of being torn from our home simply because of our heritage. But we retain a pride in our culture—our adopted Irish culture as well as our own.
Dad never had the opportunity to visit the Emerald Isle, but he loved to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. The entire family wore green, and we sported "Honorary Irish" buttons. We ate corned beef and cabbage and danced the jig in our school PE classes. For one day each year, we were as Irish as the O'Tooles and the O'Sullivans and the McMilligans.
Have you ever "adopted" a heritage other than your own? How to you celebrate that heritage?
**Leave a Question or comment for Patricia and be entered to win a bonus prize. A digital copy of The Legacy, the prequel to The Samurai's Garden.**
A Note From the Book Boost: Patricia, thank you for sharing this powerful story with us. What a great guy your father was and how impressive that he kept his sense of humor even in the wake of personal torment. Lovely story and a lovely man. Please tell us more about your latest.
Hiro Tanaka prepared for life as a samurai soldier. But his world changed when Japan's Emperor abolished the feudal system and the eliminated the samurai class. Disillusioned with fighting and violence, Hiro travels alone, going north to the island of Hokkaido. Other masterless samurai, known as ronin, wander through the country, and some have forsaken their honorable way to prey on the less fortunate.
Hanako Shimizu experienced first-hand the devastation caused by these disreputable warriors. The previous winter, they raided her farm and killed her husband. Now, she needs to rebuild her farm but she has no money and no prospects—except for the dubious intentions of the town merchant.
When Hiro, tired of his wandering, encounters Hanako in the market, arguing with the merchant, he poses as her late husband's cousin then offers to help her on the farm in exchange for a place to stay. Working on the land, Hiro finally finds the peace he has been seeking. But the reappearance of the rogue ronin, led by an unscrupulous leader from Hiro's past, forces him to take up his swords again. But now, the stakes are higher.
This time, he's fighting from the heart.
Hanako tilted her head, confusion lining her face. She took the rope, but couldn’t stop herself from asking, "Why would you do this for me?" She narrowed her eyes in suspicion. "What do you want from me?"
The big man shrugged. "Nothing, except repayment for the animals you are holding."
She felt her face burn. "Mmm, that might take a little while. I hoped Sato-san would sell me the animals and let me make payments later." Her embarrassment turned to anger as Hiro burst into laughter. "What’s so funny? Do you doubt my ability to work the farm and turn a profit?"
"I don’t doubt your ability at all. But I can just imagine what kind of payment that vermin would want from you," he rasped. "I heard some of the things he said." He took her arm as she turned away. "If you don’t have the money, then perhaps you could give me a place to stay for a while. The inn here is full, and there are no other accommodations in town. I’ve been traveling a long time and I’m tired."
Hanako looked closely at the stranger. Her sharp eyes took in the rich fabric of his obi, the fine craftsmanship and fit of his clothing, and the bejeweled hilts on both his long and short sword. "I can’t offer fine accommodations like you are accustomed to having." Her eyes narrowed as another thought occurred to her. "And why should I believe you would not expect the same payment as you suspect Sato-san wanted?"
Hiro drew himself up. "I have taken the oath of the Bushido. You are not an enemy, so I would not harm you or anything that is yours."
It was Hanako’s turn to laugh. "It was a band of your honorable men who came and raided my home, killed my husband, and burned my crops last fall. I do not have much faith in your code."
At the mention of the masterless samurai known as ronin, Hiro's lips curled in disgust. Though many former samurai had taken positions in the Emperor's army or had found new careers, a few wandered the country aimlessly, causing havoc. Now, Hanako wondered if her insult had pushed the stranger too far. If he chose to punish her for speaking to him so, she would have no defense against his strength. She watched his expression, wondering if she should try to run. Finally, he bowed stiffly and spoke. Hanako braced herself for the worst. But her jaw dropped in surprise at his words.
"I apologize for the actions of my fellow samurai," he began, "and you may consider the animals partial payment toward retribution for your loss. In addition, I will work for you this season so your lands may be restored to their former value."
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Everyone who leaves a question or comment for any of our authors this month will be entered to win a Digital Reader Prize pack from the Book Boost! Pack includes:
- Falsify by Kerri Nelson
- Your choice of books from author Liz Botts
- Saint Sloan by Kelly Martin
- Never Trust A Pretty Wolf by Elaine Cantrell
- The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer by Lisa Orchard
- The Samurai's Garden by Patricia Kiyono
- PLUS much more!