Q: In the acknowledgments in Full Cicada Moon, you write, “I wrote [main character] Mimi’s story in wonder and terror and awe, not knowing if I could or should write it.” Why did you decide to write it, and why did you question whether you could or should write it?--Marshal Zeringue
A: I wanted to write a story about a girl whose mother was Japanese and whose father was African American, like my husband—a story that our children and children like them could see themselves starring in.
But, being of English and Scots descent, at first I felt that I wasn’t the right person to write this book. I had family stories, memories of growing up in the 1960s and ‘70s in New England, the experience of studying in Kyoto the year after graduating from college with a Japanese major, and a love for history and research.
Then the story didn’t give up on wanting to be told. Soon I was possessed by Mimi, the 12-year-old protagonist, and her family, the town they lived in, and the people they met there. So I began writing Full Cicada Moon despite my fears, approaching the story as thoughtfully and respectfully as possible, and I loved every moment of it.
Q: Why did you choose 1969 as the year in which to set the story?
A: From the start, I wanted to isolate Mimi in place and time so that it was highly likely no one in her new town would have...[read on]