Jan was born and (mostly) raised in California. Her mother, a Buddhist Japanese American, was an internee during World War II. Her father, a Southern Baptist redhead of Irish descent, retired from the Air Force.
Her novel, The Red Kimono, (University of Arkansas Press, January 2013), as well as many of her short stories, reflect memories of growing up in a multicultural, multi-religious, multi-political environment.
I love the cover of Jan's book and look forward to reading it.
Her award-winning short stories and memoir essays have been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul books and several anthologies. Recently, she was nominated for the Pushcart Prize for her short story “Xs and Os,” which appeared in the Voices Anthology.
An artist as well as a writer, she is currently working on the sequel to The Red Kimono.
Jan is a gracious and generous author who shares her talent with others in the writing community. She served as past president of OWL and past conference chair of OWFI. Today, Jan shares with us her tips and strategies on how to:
· Which of your physical characteristics do you wish you could change?
· Tell me about a time someone teased you as a child.
3) Pay attention to your character’s “voice” in both the dialogue and internalization.
In another of my blog posts, “Sachi’s Letter to Nobu,” I wrote a letter from Sachi to Nobu when I was stumped with a scene in The Red Kimono. There are a variety of ways you can use this technique. I’ve listed them in order of which I’ve found to be most effective:
1) Write a letter from one character to another. In the voice of the character writing the letter, tell the receiving character about what is going on in his/her life, just as you would write a letter to a “real-life” friend. This will often prompt ideas, when before, you stared at a blank page.
2) Have your character write a letter to you. Start with your character telling YOU how frustrated he is that you can’t seem to understand what he’s trying to tell you. He can ask YOU questions such as:
· Why are you writing this book anyway?
· What did you expect me to do/say after I (insert something that happened in the book.)
· (Insert another character) doesn’t want me to tell you this, but (what first comes to mind?)
3) YOU write a letter to your character. Tell him how frustrated you are that he’s hiding from you. Ask him why he won’t talk to you? What’s he hiding?
You may be surprised at what you learn about your characters and your story using these techniques. Best of all, it will deepen your knowledge of your character. If you can transfer that new knowledge onto a page and into your story, it will draw your readers to want to know even more. And isn’t that what makes a page-turner?
Thanks, Jan, for sharing your time and talent with us today. I especially like the idea of writing a letter from one character to another.