Research for Novel: Japanese Internment at Heart Mountain

I always appreciate a well-researched novel. Depending on how in-depth the author goes, it can be almost as educational as reading a non-fiction piece. After finishing a historical fiction novel, I usually like to look up certain places, actions, events, etc. and I love when they are historically true! This is probably the biggest reason why I love historical fiction – who doesn’t want to learn and be entertained at the same time? 🙂

I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post that the novel I’m working on will take place after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and mainly focus on the Japanese internment. I have the plot and characters outlined, but before I begin writing, I must do research.

In order to decide elements such as the setting, I first turned to the internet. I looked up basic facts such as specifically where the camps were, timeframe of when internment began, etc. My next step was to dive into what the camps and life behind the barbed wire were like. This is a bit more in-depth, so I turned to memoirs to include the emotional aspects rather than only facts.

I purchased Silver Like Dust by Kimi Cunningham Grant which tells the story of her grandmother’s internment at Heart Mountain, Wyoming. First, she tells of her life as a US-born citizen in San Francisco and describes what life was like for her and her family after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It continues to follow her path as they get sent to a temporary relocation camp in California. Eventually, they were sent via train to Heart Mountain, an internment camp in Wyoming.

The author goes into great detail of the family’s struggle to adapt to a new, cramped living situation and a completely different climate. She discusses the freedoms stripped away, even something we may take for granted – for example: being able to decide when you eat. They had hardly any privacy, little choices for food and were kept in the confines of the camp 24/7. Occasionally they were granted to leave the camp, but they were under very strict watch. The author also described many aspects Japanese culture, which helps readers to understand many of the struggles the Japanese had to endure.

I learned so much from reading this, and I’m ready to learn more. Has anyone else read a non-fiction piece concerning Japanese internment? If so, leave your recommendations in the comments below!

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