It all began (for me) when I moved to Hawai’i to attend the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. It was love at first sight. I felt I had come home. Everything about Hawai’i felt natural and comfortable, like I belonged there. I stayed for many years, my children were born there, and when I decided to write my first novel, of course, it would be set there. Fast forward about 10 years.
While living there, I went to the Arizona Memorial about once a year. I couldn’t stay away. It always touched me that I found both American and Japanese military standing side by side, not speaking, but both quietly paying their respects, lost in the past, perhaps. They were always old, at least to me at that time, and I knew from the bits of discussion I would hear before and after the visit, they were part of that war.
Another puzzle piece was that I thought I might continue in law enforcement in Hawai’i. I was a reserve officer before moving there, so I checked out HPD, did ride-alongs and research.
Ultimately, I decided it wasn’t for me, but two very important things arose as a result. I found my best friend of that period, an HPD officer who, even after I decided not to enlist, let me go on hours of ride-alongs. She also introduced me to another officer who was three years old at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack.
Way back then, people lived along the shores of the harbor, and he was that little boy playing on the shore in the first part of my book. That terrifying tale stuck with me for twenty-five years and to me it was vital that it was remembered, albeit fictionalized.
While living in Hawai’i for so long, it was impossible not to be keenly aware of our military. O’ahu is, after all, pretty much one big military base—all branches. I lived across the street from a military museum at one point, and again, went regularly. I don’t understand my own fascination for WWII, particularly the Pacific arena, but some of it is my own family’s military background.
Almost every male through my father’s generation served, and my grandfather designed the first jet. He was in the Air arm of the Army, back when the air force didn’t exist yet. I heard a few bits and pieces from him, but he didn’t want to talk story, as we say in Hawai’i. None of our military men do. I wish they were still around to talk to, because now, I think I might be able to understand, just a little. Although this mystery novel, Pearl Harbor Blues, isn’t set during the war, it does start there and is a little nod to all those who serve, both then and now.