Victoria’s Pearl Harbor Journey
January 4, 2015
Whenever I “run into” Victoria, a smile immediately forms on my face–she’s the kind of person that makes you feel good, not matter what. I think we first met in San Luis Obispo, then “ran into” each other at several Left Coast Crime Conferences–and it’s always been a joy! So when I heard Victoria had a new book out, I immediately read, enjoyed, reviewed, and asked her to come visit.
Pearl Harbor Blues is a wonderful story written in a very engaging manner. Consequently, I asked Victoria if she’d satisfy my curiosity. Specifically, why this story? And what did her research entail?
Pearl Harbor Blues was a labor of love and determination. The idea came from a friend of mine, over 30 years ago. I lived and went to school in Hawai’i and met a nice HPD officer during my ride-alongs there when I thought about joining HPD. You talk a lot when you’re riding around for 8 hours. Anyway, he mentioned he was on the beach at Pearl Harbor during the Dec. 7 attack. He was three years old. At that time, civilians lived there, too. Much of the area around the harbor was quite different then compared to now.
That image of a little boy stayed with me all these years. The book itself took a decade to complete for a number of reasons. I did a ton of research and got help from Pearl Harbor survivors, museum experts and many visits to the memorial. When I began that book, I was fairly new to writing itself, having only one or two books published. I did what a lot of writers do: I wrote myself into a corner and just didn’t know how to get out. Life intervened; I raised two boys, kept teaching middle school, but all the while, that book stayed alive in the back of my mind. I knew I had a pretty good story, if only I could figure out how to save it.
A couple years ago, I had a window of time and decided it was do or die! I would finish that book. First, I eliminated a number of characters. I simply had too many. Then I streamlined the plot. I needed suspects and twists, but maybe not millions of them. I reviewed my notes, which were legion. Post-Its, index cards, timelines—boy I had a mess! Because the book jumps in time, I had to be sure who knew what when. I forged ahead. I had great editors, Sue McGinty and Margaret Searles, amazing authors in their own right, who would not let me get away with anything, despite pleading and bribes.
When Pearl Harbor Blues finally came out, I was really proud of it. All you authors out there know, some books are just plain easier to write than others. Don’t give up on the hard ones. I look at my gorgeous cover, and remember all the people, real and fictional who helped create it. I come from a military family, so all those who serve, past and present, are special to me. Living in Hawai’i, which is pretty much a giant military base, reminds me of how hard we work to keep our freedoms. Aloha, and thank you for reading!