GAIJIN, my new novel currently in progress, can be described as Winds of War with a twist. Like the novel by Herman Wouk, it follows a family and their experiences before and through the end of World War Two.
The twist is two fold.
First, the family and other characters are Japanese. And second, it’s a coming of age story of an American teen living with the family and growing up against the backdrop of the war in Japan.
I recently fired up my Netflix online account and viewed the series to refresh my mind on the plot structure and the details of how the war impacted a family. Now, writing historical fiction is a challenge. The biggest one is to not fall into the trap of making the story sound like a history text.
As the history of the war flows, the events must personally affect the characters in some way. There must be tension in almost every scene – that is, some kind of conflict whether it be physical, psychological or emotional relating to pre-war and wartime Japan. And all pf this – the war events and the experiences of his adopted Japanese family – must reflect on the American teen’s personal development and be the driver towards his emotional and psychological growth. This is how I need to connect the two parts of the twist.
So far, I have laid down the background of the American teen called Connor, his adopted father Fujiyama, Yoshihara Koga, the Japanese-American narrator of the story, and Kenta Hiyakawa, the moderate diplomat. What happens to these characters is the main plot of the story. You might say they are the planets that the story revolves around.
Well, back to writing the story – the rape of Nanking and a secret conspiracy involving the Prince of the Royal Family who is the antagonist in my story.