Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

“Fall Down Seven” Wins the 2013 Tyler R. Tichelaar Award for Best Historical Fiction

April 22, 2014

Every year, I sponsor the Best Historical Fiction Award in the Reader Views Literary Awards contest after having won the award myself in 2008 for my novel Narrow Lives. I have nothing to do with the judging of the award, but I always eagerly await hearing who the winner is. Part of the prize I offer is writing a book review of the winning book, and this year I was thrilled to hear that “Fall Down Seven” by C.E. Edmonson won, so here is the book review I wrote. I highly recommend the book.

 

Award-Winning World War II Novel about Japanese-Americans a Tear-Jerker

"Fall Down Seven" asks what it means to be an American, especially when your fellow Americans treat you as the enemy.

“Fall Down Seven” asks what it means to be an American, especially when your fellow Americans treat you as the enemy.

Winner of the 2014 Reader Views Literary Awards for Best Historical Fiction, Fall Down Seven is the moving and dynamic story about a Japanese-American family’s experiences when World War II begins.

Written from the perspective of thirteen-year-old Emiko Arrington, this young adult novel will appeal to readers of all ages because of its graceful and enlightening handling of a difficult subject. The way Japanese-Americans were treated in the United States during World War II is history that many of us would like to forget, but it deserves to be remembered all the more as a result.

On December 7, 1941, Emiko and her family witness from a distance the bombing of Pearl Harbor, an event that will soon put her own family in peril. Emiko’s father is a white, American-born lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, and consequently, he is soon called to fight in the Pacific. Emiko’s mother, Arika, is a Japanese-born woman who came to the United States at the age of six with her family. Her parents have since returned to live in Hiroshima, while her brother, a professor on the West Coast, is sent to a Japanese internment camp. While most Japanese in Hawaii were not interred in these camps, like the Japanese on the West Coast were, Emiko’s father feels that she, her eight-year-old brother Charles, known as “The Whizz,” and her mother would be safer going to Connecticut to live with his sister, Emiko’s Aunt Ellen.

After bidding goodbye to their father, Emiko and her family make the journey from Hawaii to Connecticut. When they reach California, they are immediately treated with prejudice and risk being sent to an internment camp themselves, but fortunately, they have a letter of authorization to travel to Connecticut, signed by an admiral. Once they get on a train, they are taunted by American soldiers, but they receive kindness from a negro porter, who apparently sympathizes with them since he is also a second-class citizen in America because of his race.

When the family arrives in Connecticut, life does not become any easier for them. Aunt Ellen is not overly friendly; she is not used to children or visitors, but she has an empty house, and her own husband is away fighting in the war; however, she means well and sticks up for the family when needed. Nearby lives Uncle Ralph and his wife, son, and infant daughter. The son shares The Whizz’s love of baseball and Uncle Ralph soon proves to Emiko that she can confide in him.

Outside their relatives, however, Emiko and her brother and mother face constant prejudice everywhere they go. Emiko and her brother experience prejudice at school and Emiko is even tripped at a track meet. The local church’s board even wants to oust the family from attending services. Through it all, Emiko is forced to draw on her inner strength and courage, hold her head up, and believe that she and her family have the same rights and are as American as everyone else.

The novel’s title comes from a Japanese proverb that Emiko’s father constantly repeats to her, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” At times, Emiko wonders whether she’ll have to fall down fifty times, but she never forgets the proverb and keeps going.

Author C.E. Edmonson has done a magnificent job of capturing a realistic thirteen-year-old girl’s point of view during World War II and weaving in the good and the bad of her experiences. While he could have written a novel about a Japanese family in an internment camp, I think by writing about a half-white family, he allows readers to see how prejudice barriers are broken down in communities, including pointing out that many of the Connecticut neighbors who encounter Emiko’s family are of German descent, yet they are not blamed for what Hitler and the Nazis are doing, so Emiko and her family should not be blamed for what the Japanese emperor and his armies are doing. From religion to sports to family bonding, Edmonson thoroughly covers the experiences of people during World War II, whether of European, Asian, or African descent, making this a universal novel that will appeal to all, and while I won’t give away the ending, or say whether it is happy or sad, I admit my tears were flowing when I came to the final pages.

Tyler’s Turkey Vacation

April 19, 2012

As many of my readers know, last month I went on a tour of Turkey. If you want to read more about it, check out the recent interview I did about my trip with Debbie Glade on her blog titled: Mosques, Ruins and Figs with Honey – An Interview with Author Tyler Tichelaar, PhD at: http://smartpoodlepublishing.com/blog/2012/04/19/mosques-ruins-and-figs-with-honey-an-interview-with-author-tyler-tichelaar-phd/

Tyler in Cappadocia - yes it snowed while I was in Turkey!I’ve also posted several other blogs about specific aspects of Turkey:

Searching for King Arthur in Turkey – a guest post at Nicole Evelina’s Mists of Time blog: http://nicoleevelina.com/2012/04/11/guest-post-searching-for-king-arthur-in-turkey/

King Arthur and Melusine’s Turkey Connection at my other blog for Children of Arthur: http://childrenofarthur.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/king-arthur-and-melusine-the-turkey-connection/

Marquette and Istanbul: Love of Your Hometown: https://tylerrtichelaar.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/marquette-and-istanbul-love-of-your-hometown/

Turkey is a wonderful and marvellous country filled with friendly people, fascinating ruins, and some of the world’s most interesting ancient history. Put it on your To Do List!

Marquette and Istanbul: Love of Your Hometown

March 24, 2012

I just returned from a wonderful vacation in Turkey, which I’ve long wanted to visit for its many historical and ancient sites, including biblical Ephesus, ancient Troy, and Istanbul, formerly Constantinople, seat of the Byzantine Empire. My journey made me appreciate Turkey in more ways than I can list here, including the people’s pride in being a democracy and their love of the founder of the Republic, Ataturk, as well as the friendliness, politeness, and goodwill of the Turkish people; almost everyone I spoke to had been to the United States or had a relative living here. I realized just how small the world is and how we are far more alike than different to our neighbors in this world.

One pleasant surprise I had while in Turkey was to discover the book Istanbul: Memories and the City by Orhan Pamuk. Pamuk won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006. I had heard his name but never investigated his books, so to discover he had written a book about Istanbul that includes the city’s history and his memories of growing up in it in the 1950s-1970s made me feel what a small world it is. Considering I have written a similar book about Marquette, I felt I had discovered a kindred spirit. I read the entire book on the plane flying home. In addition to the text, Pamuk includes many black and white photos of Istanbul, which I can’t reproduce here, but I am including a few photos of Istanbul that I took myself on my vacation.

What I enjoyed about Istanbul: Memories and the City was not only the history and memories that Pamuk describes, but when I say he is like a kindred spirit, it’s because many of the things he says about living in Istanbul are very similar to things I’ve said about living in Marquette and my relationship to my hometown. Here are a few passages from his book:

“I’ve never left Istanbul—never left the houses, streets, and neighborhoods of my childhood.”

Similarly, I feel like the Marquette of my childhood is constantly with me—I am continually finding myself remembering being in the Marquette Mall or eating at the Bavarian Inn or attending nursery school at the Presbyterian Church.

“Istanbul’s fate is my fate: I am attached to this city because it has made me who I am.”

Similarly, the history of Marquette flows through my veins and that of seven generations of my ancestors. To understand me, you have to understand my family background, the beauty and history I grew up surrounded by in my hometown.

“I was beginning to understand that I loved Istanbul for its ruins, its huzun, for the glories once possessed and later lost.”

Pamuk talks a lot about the city’s huzun, a word meaning melancholy. He writes of growing up in the 1950s surrounded by a family in mourning for the glories of the Ottoman empire that vanished with the coming of the Republic of Turkey in the 1920s. While I don’t doubt Pamuk realizes the Republic was preferable to being ruled by a Sultan, he has an appreciation for the glories of the past. His grandmother and elderly relatives have turned their homes into what feel like museums. Similarly, I grew up surrounded by grandparents, great-aunts and great-uncles who told me of Marquette’s past and stories of their parents and grandparents. I felt a certain melancholy in longing to know the Marquette of the past prior to my lifetime and the glories of the past that no longer existed, such as the Superior Hotel, or the glories I saw disappearing such as St. John the Baptist Church being torn down.

“…anything we say about the city’s essence, says more about our own lives and our own states of mind. The city has no centre other than ourselves.”

Very true. My view of Marquette is conditioned by my upbringing and history. Others feel differently about it I’m sure, although I tried, in writing about it in my novels, to create some sort of collected consciousness about its history.

“…we cannot help loving our city like family. But we still have to decide what part of the city we love and invent the reasons why.”

I think the reasons become clear when we consider the difficulties of life in Upper Michigan. Economic issues and cold winters are trying and make a person create an argument for himself about why to remain, weighing the pros and cons.

“…if I had come to feel deeply connected to my city, it was because it offered me a deeper wisdom and understanding than any I could acquire in a classroom.”

Yes, I went to Istanbul, but deep down as a writer, I have always felt like Marquette was more than enough for me to write about. Everything I need as a writer I can find here. There are stories, diversity, history, culture, enough to fill many books as my writing has shown, and all those lead to lessons about life. As Dorothy says in The Wizard of Oz, we need not go looking beyond our own backyards for our heart’s desire.

This last passage describes Pamuk beginning to collect information about his city before he even knew he would write someday about it, similar to how everything about Marquette’s history fascinated me and I collected books and articles about it and even old telephone books before I contemplated writing a series of novels about the place.

“I craved books and magazines about Istanbul—any type of printed matter, any programme, any timetable or ticket was valuable information to me and so I began to collect them. A part of me knew I could not keep these things for ever: after I had played with them for a while, I would forget them….in the early days I told myself that eventually it would all form part of a great enterprise….There were times—when every strange memento seemed saturated with the poetic melancholy of lost imperial greatness and its historical residue—that I imagined myself to be the only one who had unlocked the city’s secret….now I had embraced the city as my own—no one had ever seen it as I did now!”

I won’t go so far as to say no one ever saw Marquette the way I have, but one of the nicest compliments I have received about my novels is that they have made people look at the buildings of Marquette in different ways and see all the history that surrounds them. If anything, I hope my books have made people appreciate the past that once existed and still exists among us.

Marquette is world enough for me, but as a genealogy fanatic, I wanted to go to Turkey to explore what remained of the Byzantine Empire. For me, being in Hagia Sophia was especially a highlight. I have traced my family tree back to many Byzantine Emperors including Basil I and Alexios III, who would have worshiped in Hagia Sophia. I also visited the ruins of Troy and Ephesus where doubtless I also had ancestors centuries ago and now lost to time. My family’s past lies throughout the world. As James Michener said, “The world is my home,” and Marquette and Istanbul are not so very different—although in different ways, both are home.

Winner of the Great Lakes Romances Book Drawing

February 15, 2012

Thank you to everyone who read and left comments on author Donna Winters’ recent interview.

The winner of the drawing for the set of the Fayette Trilogy is Ann Hilton Fisher.

Congratulations to Ann!

And thank you again to Donna for helping to make our Valentine’s Day a little more special.

~ Tyler

My New York Vacation

October 12, 2011

Recently, I went to visit friends in Rochester, New York and played the tourist. While New York may have little to do with my usual posts on Marquette and Upper Michigan books, places, and people, there are a few connections.

The French Castle - Fort Niagara

The Haunted French Castle, part of Fort Niagara

My ancestors, the Bishops and Whites, came to Marquette around 1850 from Upstate New York, specifically Essex County, a bit east of where I was, but I enjoyed looking at the countryside and various trees, which would have been familiar to my ancestors. I visited the Erie Canal, which they doubtless would have known well, and for all I know, they may have traveled along it or Lake Ontario to reach Marquette. My ancestor, Basil Bishop, fought in the War of 1812 at the Battle of Plattsburg. I had my own War of 1812 experience visiting Fort Niagara, reputedly haunted by a headless man whose body was tossed down its well. I also visited the George Eastman home. Eastman, who invented the Kodak camera, first became interested in photography after he bought a bunch of equipment for a trip to the Dominican Republic that fell through, so he instead traveled to Mackinac Island to take nature photography.

cannons fort niagara

Cannons at Fort Niagara

Other places I visited included the Susan B. Anthony home. Anthony is best known for her role in supporting the right for women to receive the vote, but she was also involved in the temperance movement–the two movements were closely connected. My own Bishop ancestors who were among the founders of Marquette’s First Methodist Church also founded Marquette’s first temperance society.

And I visited Niagara Falls–beautiful and breathtaking, even if a bit commercialized with skyscrapers rising above it.

In short, I had a wonderful time. Here are a few photos of my vacation.

Tyler at the Erie Canal

Along the Erie Canal

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

George Eastman Home

The George Eastman Home

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Lady’s Slipper Season in Upper Michigan

June 25, 2011

It’s Lady’s Slipper season in Upper Michigan, and thanks to some of my Facebook friends, I heard my favorite wildflower was in bloom around Little Presque Isle near Marquette and set out on a rainy day to get photographs. I plan to have a photo of lady’s slippers on the front cover of my next novel, Spirit of the North, which will be published in Spring 2012. In the novel, there is a pivotal scene around lady’s slippers.

In fact, lady’s slippers have been my favorite flower since I was a child growing up in Stonegate near the Crossroads where the flowers grew profusely in the woods. Even back then in the 1970s, they were illegal to pick, but we picked them all the time anyway. I don’t recommend anyone doing so now since they appear to be more rare than they were back then, although by looking hard, I easily spotted about 100 of them, growing in groups of 1 and 2, but I remember them often growing in much larger clumps when I was younger. I was more respectful when I went out to photograph them this past week, and I swear they knew I was there, admiring them and they were ready for their photo-shoot. I think because of their shape they look almost like they have faces and their own personalities. You can decide for yourself.

I did not neglect to mention Lady’s Slippers in some of my other novels, so I offer here a scene from my novel Superior Heritage in which young John Vandelaare, who is only about six years old, goes fishing with his brother and older cousins at Ives Lake where his grandfather is the caretaker, and on the way back, they stumble on a field of Lady’s Slippers.

From Superior Heritage: The Marquette Trilogy, Book Three

They were all a bit tired now from the long day, and less talkative than they had been on the way to the fishing hole. They walked with a bit of urgency because they knew it would soon be nightfall, and the forest’s thick trees would block out the remaining light.

Then, as the beautiful summer evening ended, they stumbled upon a little copse, almost a meadow really, where sunbeams broke through the trees, illuminating a small patch of the forest floor.

Suddenly, Chad cried out, “Ooh, look at the lady’s slippers!”

All turned their heads to see the meadow packed with the little pink flowers that looked like fairy slippers hanging from their stems.

“How’d we miss seeing all those before?” asked Alan.

“I saw them,” said William, who had not thought flowers worth mentioning.

Chad struggled to get out of the wagon.

“Where are you going?” Jason asked him.

“To pick some for Gwamma and Aunt Ada,” was Chad’s obvious answer.

“Hey, ain’t these flowers the kind that are illegal to pick?” asked Jason.

“Why would flowers be illegal to pick?” asked Alan.

“Because they’re rare,” said William.

“They don’t look rare,” said Alan. “There’s about a hundred of them here.”

“Let’s pick them all,” said Chad. “We can give some to Gwamma, and Aunt Ada, and some to my mom and some to your mom.” He felt overcome by a desire to give all the women pretty flowers until they would all feel as beautiful as Princess Ada.

“It’s almost dark,” said William.

“It’ll only take a minute to pick them,” Alan replied. “Besides, maybe the flowers will cheer Mom up.”

            “Mom’s not going to cheer up until Dad quits being a jerk,” William muttered; as the oldest, he was burdened with understanding his parents’ marriage better than his brothers.

“If we pick them all,” said Jason, “won’t they die from being exposed? We don’t have any water to put them in.”

“Aunt Beth will give us vases, or at least plastic bags to wrap them in,” said Alan.

While his cousins debated, John joined his brother in gathering flowers. William refused to pick any—he was too old for flower picking, even to make his mother happy. But Alan did not mind pleasing his younger cousins by joining in. Chad’s little hands filled too quickly, so he enlisted Jason in carrying his flowers to the wagon for him. Meanwhile, Alan picked ferns to make backgrounds so the bouquets of lady’s slippers would look even prettier in vases.

In ten minutes, the meadow was cleared. Heaps of delicate pink air pockets of flowers were gently laid in the wagon. Chad did not object when told he would have to walk home so his feet did not crush the flowers. He thought it nicer to walk beside the wagon and look at the pretty flowers.

lady's slippers           The boys started back down the path. John looked back to where the flowers had been. He remembered just minutes before how stunned they had all been by the flowers—how there had been a seemingly endless field of pink rising up from the decaying leaves of last autumn. Now, he only saw the decaying leaves and little broken stems sticking up where once the flowers had been. The evening sun had lowered as well, leaving the field almost dark. Already he was starting to strain his eyes to see ahead of him. He wished they had not picked all the flowers; then he could have come back tomorrow night to see the pink field again.

“I hope the DNR doesn’t catch us,” said William.

“What’s the DNR?” asked Alan.

“The Department of Natural Resources. If they catch us illegally picking all these flowers, they’ll probably throw us in jail, or make Dad pay a huge fine, and then he’ll probably ground us for a month.”

John was frightened by the thought of jail. But he felt it would serve them right if the DNR did catch them. It seemed wrong to have picked all the flowers. They had not left behind a single one. He felt the trees would be lonely and sad without the lady’s slippers.

When the boys got back to the house, Ada and Beth marveled at so many delicate flowers. Beth quickly found more empty coke bottles to serve as vases so Ada could go home with a bouquet, and the Whitman boys could bring another home for their mother.

“Thanks for having me, Beth,” Ada said, as she picked up her vase and kissed her sister-in-law goodbye.

“Any time, Ada,” said Beth.

“We wish you’d come to visit more often,” said Henry.

“It was a perfect day,” Ada said.

“Boys, what do you say to your aunt?”

“Thank you for the pwincess,” said Chad.

“Thank you for the ship,” said John, and then he turned to his cousins and added, “Thank you for taking me fishing.”

William and Jason said nothing, but Alan mussed his cousin’s hair.

“We better get home before dark or Annette will be worried,” said Bill.

William thought his mother might prefer if they did not go home, but he would not argue with his father in public. Instead, he carried his and his brothers’ fishing poles to the car trunk. A sprinkle of rain started up as everyone piled into the car.

“We’re going to have another storm tonight,” said Henry as the visitors drove away.

“Well, at least the boys got out of the house this evening,” said Beth, “though I don’t think they minded being inside since they had Ada to entertain them.”

“Did you boys have a good time with Aunt Ada?” Henry asked.

Both nodded enthusiastically.

“Well, you better get to bed now,” said Beth. “John go brush your teeth while I help Chad put on his pajamas.”

John got ready for bed, then came out into the kitchen to get a drink of water before he went to sleep. When he saw the lady’s slippers sitting on the kitchen counter, he wished he could replant them in the woods, but he knew they would not grow now.

As he started to fall asleep, a loud thunderclap made him hide his head under the blankets. He was surprised Chad could sleep through the noise. He felt the thunder was a warning he had done something wrong to pick the flowers. They had been so beautiful in the forest; they were nowhere near as pretty sitting on the counter. He wanted to cry, but he felt if his older cousins knew he cried, they would think him a baby. That he refused to cry did not make him feel any less guilty.

Find out more about Superior Heritage and all my novels at www.MarquetteFiction.com

In Honor of Barb Kelly: 430 E. Arch ~ Ripka Home

May 12, 2011

Today, I was honored to receive the Barb Kelly Historical Preservation Award from the Marquette Beautification and Restoration Committee. Congratulations to all the award recipients and to the MBRC for its continued wonderful work to this community. Barb Kelly herself presented the award to me and said some very nice things about me and My Marquette, so here is a little bit about her and her wonderful house, taken from My Marquette.Note that since this photo was taken, the Kellys have begun constructing a three story tower on the east side of the house.

The Ripka/Kelly home circa 2009

C.F. Struck built this fine sandstone home in 1875 for A.A. Ripka, a mining investor. The house features an arched portico, gabled dormers with pointed arch windows, and a steeply pitched Lake Superior slate roof.

Not long after its construction, the house was sold to Alfred Swineford, owner of The Mining Journal. Swineford would later build the house at 424 Cedar Street, and give this Arch Street home to his daughter Nellie Flower and her husband Edward Stafford when they married in 1884. When Swineford moved to Alaska, the Staffords remained in Marquette, and in 1890, their only child, Ruth, was born. In 1917, Ruth would marry Roscoe Conkling Main, the county health officer for Marquette County. Later, the Main family would move to California.

Today the home belongs to Dr. Peter and Barbara Kelly. Dr. Kelly was among the preservers of the Savings Bank Building downtown and Barbara Kelly is well known for over thirty years of dedication to the Marquette Beautification committee, landscaping and planting flowers throughout the city. The Barbara H. Kelly Historic Preservation Award is named in her honor and regularly given to those who preserve and restore historic architecture and promote historical preservation in Marquette.