Thursday, June 07, 2007

Frequently Asked Questions -- Why Wasn't Nothing To Regret More about Topaz?

For those of you who haven't read Nothing to Regret (well, first of all, go get a copy! What are you still sitting there for?) the story begins with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the subsequent internment of the Japanese Americans living on the west coast at the time. My characters were living in Berkeley and were sent to live at Topaz, the internment camp just outside of Delta, Utah. From there, my character goes on an espionage mission to Japan, and his time in Topaz only takes up the first quarter of the book. Readers have told me that they would have liked to see more about Topaz and were disappointed that I skimmed over that part.

I can understand the frustration -- whenever I am reading a historical novel, I like to learn as much as I can about whatever I'm reading. But I do need to set my readers' minds to rest on this concern -- I did not make the Topaz segment longer because to do so would require a whole lot of repetition.

You see, the lives of the internees were very mundane, which is part of the tragedy of the story. They woke up, had breakfast, bathed, did laundry, ate lunch and dinner, and basically that was all. The children could go to school, but if you weren't a child, there was very little for you to do, and precious little opportunity to create things to do. There were a few sports teams for the young men. The older men got together and played checkers. But every day life was tedious.

In the book, I did mention what entertainment there was to be had. I also mention some of the other happenings in the camp, such as the shooting of Mr. Wakasa and the pipes that kept breaking. But it was not possible for me to make the Topaz segment of the book longer and still maintain reader interest, as it would be a lot of repetition of what I said before. And now I'm starting to repeat myself.

So it's not that I wanted to skip over Topaz or to cheat my reader out of history. It's simply that I told everything there really was to tell.


Karen said...

Well, now I'm gonna have to go buy that book. I couldn't choose between the two, so now I know where to start:)

Michele Holmes said...

Well said Tristi, and I think I need to learn that lesson. It's a wise writer that leaves her readers wanting more. Based on the length of my book . . . I'm still seeking wisdom ;)

Josi said...

So basically, you spared us? I loved the book and never thought you didn't spend enough time on it.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Karen -- they're both so tempting, aren't they? :)

Michele -- every writing style is different, and so is every genre, so don't worry too much about your length. I tend to be more of a sparse writer, but I'm working at adding more description.

Josi -- yeah, I spared you from lots of dust storms and standing in line for meals. :)

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