Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Interview with 'Gardens of Hope' Michael Holloway Perronne


Michael Holloway Perronne is the author of eight books including: "A Time Before Me," "Falling Into Me", "A Time Before Us, Men Can Do Romance"  "Gardens of Hope," and"Embrace the Rain."  His debut novel, "A Time Before Me" won the BronzeAward, Foreword Magazine's Book of the Year Award in the Gay/Lesbian fiction category.  

Michael was born and raised in Mississippi.  He received a BA in Film from the University of Southern Mississippi and a MFA in Drama and Communications from the University of New Orleans.
  
He currently resides in Southern California and is working on his next novel, "The Other Side of Happy."

His recent release is Gardens of Hope.

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On the surface, Jack appears to have all a man in World War II era 1941 could want with his solid middle-class background, upcoming college graduation, and the perfect, devoted fiancee. But one night when he accidentally stumbles upon a shadow life of men who desire other men in a Downtown Los Angeles park, he begins to realize exactly what has always left him with a feeling of emptiness.
Despite the constant danger of being arrested by vice cops, Jack continues to visit the park every chance he has to feel a connection, no matter how fleeting, with another man. One night he meets a handsome and charismatic Japanese-American, Hiro, who appears to want more than a quick encounter, and Jack surprises himself by starting to truly fall in love for the first time.
However, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt issues Executive Order 9066 and orders the mandatory relocation of over 100,000 Japanese-Americans, who have never been charged with a crime, to far flung internment camps sites. Jack and Hiro suddenly find themselves torn apart before their secret, fledgling romance can blossom. Desperate to find and reconnect with Hiro, Jack accepts a high school teaching position at an internment camp in the California desert, Manzanar. There, surrounded by armed guard towers and a prison-like environment, Jack begins to fully realize the injustices being faced by Japanese-Americans during one of the most controversial times of United States history and shifts his world view- forever.

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What first inspired you to write or who inspired you?

Japanese-American internment.

As recently as a decade ago, I knew little to nothing on the subject of over 100,000 Japanese-Americans, who had committed no crimes, being forcefully relocated to concentration camps in remote parts of the US during World War II due to fear after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Many of those who were taken off to the camps were US citizens with their only crime being physically similar to enemy.  It’s a true life narrative that eerily mirrors a lot of what I see the Muslim-Ameircan community experiencing. 

I’d written a number of gay fiction title already, and I knew I wanted to write something historical about the forbidden love between men from different worlds.  The more I learned about Japanese-American internment, the more I knew I wanted to set the story at the Manzanar camp in California to not only shed light on the struggles of LGBT individuals during the 1940s but what Japanese-Americans struggled with at the same time.  The result was my novel, Gardens of Hope, a bittersweet love story between two men during a time that society would deny their love due to their gender and race.

At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

As far back as I can remember, I have always been writing and inventing stories.  Once I got old enough to put pen to paper I start writing “my stories,” and I haven’t stopped since.

Are you an avid reader?

I love to read.  In order to make yourself a better writer, I believe you also need to be an active reader to motivate you to better your own craft.  Even though it’s been out for quite a few years, I just read Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner.  I found myself absolutely being blown away with this author’s eloquent use of language.

What are you reading now?

Maybe needing an escape from the current political climate and turmoil, I’ve found myself reading more “beach reads” or “pulp fiction.”  I’m currently in the middle of V.C. Andrews’ My Sweet Audrina.  It’s wonderfully twisted and gothic.

What are you currently working on?

For a while now, I’ve known that I wanted to write something focused on the transgender movement in the US.  That idea eventually developed into a novel, The Other Side of Happy, that will focus on a divorced couple coping with the coming out of their transgender teen.  I thought it would be interesting to explore the topic from the parents’ viewpoints, especially if they’re on opposite sides of the topic.

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