Wednesday, February 22, 2012

DIAMOND IN THE DESERT


It's day three of the HAUNTED BLOG TOUR and I'm visiting Jen Bigheart's I Read Banned Books to talk about YA books that have influenced me. And in case you missed it during my Texas Bloggers are Rockstars series, Jen has also reposted - with extra pics!-- my interview with her and Stephanie Pellegrin highlighting not only their awesomeness but also how they almost got trampled/broke a leg running at TLA to meet Suzanne Collins.

Once again, thank you to Mundie Moms for organizing the HAUNTED tour as we count down to August and ANASTASIA FOREVER! (By the way, Mundie Moms is today's stop on the blog tour of another Sourcebooks Fire paranormal, the forthcoming EMBRACE, by Aussie Jessica Shirvington)

Tomorrow you'll get to read an excerpt from HAUNTED on Sarah's Books and Life!

And now I would like to introduce my guest for today, author Kathryn Fitzmaurice, whose first novel, THE YEAR THE SWALLOWS CAME EARLY, debuted in '09 and simply blew everyone away with its wonderful, lyrical beauty! In full disclosure, Kathryn and I are agent sisters, both being represented by the fab Jen Rofe of ABLA. But I really got to know her as part of the Class of 2k9, and we've stayed friends since, watching out for each other in this crazy business.

Kathryn's new novel has been garnering amazing reviews already. It is called DIAMOND IN THE DESERT. Here's a quick summary:
For Tetsu, baseball is so much more than just a game

On December 6, 1941, Tetsu is a twelve-year-old California boy who loves baseball. On December 7, 1941, everything changes. The bombing of Pearl Harbor means Tetsu's Japanese-American family will be relocated to an internment camp.

Gila River camp isn't technically a prison, but with nowhere to go, nothing to do, and no time frame for leaving, it might as well be. So when someone has the idea of building a baseball diamond and starting a team, Tetsu is overjoyed. But then his sister gets dangerously sick, forcing him to choose between his family and his love of the game. This is an impeccably researched, lyrical story about baseball, honor, and a turbulent period in U.S. history.


Kathryn stopped by today to chat about the story behind DIAMOND in the DESERT, which is based on real events that occurred during WWII. Here's what she had to say:

Every once in a while, a really great story comes your way. This one came to me by accident. I was visiting my oldest son’s middle school National History Day competition. One of the students there had built a model of the Zenimura baseball field as it stood outside Gila River, a Japanese internment camp. Her grandfather had played outfield for the team. I asked her if I could interview him. I thought I would write a short magazine article about him, but after the interview, I immediately contacted the other two players who were still alive so I could interview them, too. This began a two-year process in which I learned everything I could about the baseball team and Gila River. I’ll admit, I never thought I’d write a story about baseball or Gila River. I didn’t even know the baseball team had existed until the day I saw the model of the field.

But here’s the thing. After listening to the men, and hearing what they went through, I wrote the story because, against all odds, in a time of turmoil in our nation, this team of young boys was able to come together and beat the Tucson High School state champs in a nail-biting extra innings game that was so incredibly remarkable, it gave a sense of hope to the other residents of the camp. It gave a sense of what is possible, if we try.

I spent many months in the Pacific Archives building of the Laguna Niguel branch, reading through all three and a half years of the Gila News Courier on microfiche, the newspaper that was published at the camp. I interviewed the men over a period of two years. After each draft of the story, I sent it to the pitcher, Mr. Tetsuo Furukawa, so he could read it to make sure I got it right. And then, I asked my son’s former baseball coach to read the book, so he could check my baseball facts, and the baseball scenes of each game. I am so very grateful for the support and help I received while writing this book.

Moreover, I would say A DIAMOND IN THE DESERT is a story of hope and courage, which happens to take place in an internment camp. It’s a story that helped me to see the good in people, and how with faith and determination, we can achieve what we want. It’s also a story about a dog, named Lefty (after Lefty O’Doul) who after he was given away (because the camp didn’t take dogs) found his way home and waited there for his owners to come back.

I hope you will enjoy the book. I am so happy to be able to share it with you.

Thanks for stopping by, Kathryn!

Check out Kathryn's website and blog.

Add DIAMOND IN THE DESERT to your GOODREADS !