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A Moment with K.P. Kollenborn

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Dan: Tell us about Eyes Behind Belligerence?

K.P.: Eyes Behind Belligerence is a historical drama about two Japanese American families survivng war, rascim, and interment camps. Told in five parts, this novel unravels the challenges between two unlikely Nisei friends, Jim and Russell, into adulthood during the Second World War. As restrictions are imposed, (even in the safe, rural community of Bainbridge Island,) as harassments escalate, (including the F.B.I. invading their homes and deporting their fathers to Montana for espionage trials,) the fated day arrives: evacuation of all Japanese civilians. Rounded up like cattle, tagged, they are hauled to the fringes of Death Valley: Manzanar. Together they must survive racism, gang violence, and the harsh elements of the environment. Together they must prove their loyalty, especially after a tragic riot on the eve of Pearl Harbor’s anniversary. While Russell enlists in a segregated army, becoming part of one the most decorated units in U.S. history, Jim is sent to a different camp for the “No-No” boys: those who are marked disloyal. Removed from their families, they are forced to reevaluate their identities and discover, most importantly, what it means to forgive. You can purchase both ebooks and soft cover on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and Smashwords at Right now ebooks are running at 99cents.

Dan: What sets your most recent release, Eyes Behind Belligerence, from other books of the same genre?

K.P.: Two key elements set this novel apart from other novels about the Japanese interment: First, all the main characters are of Japanese orgin. This allows the process of storytelling to focus on the Japanese and Japanese-American experiences. Second, because there are many characters intertwined, the reader will gain a broader experience of camp life. Life in Manzanar was complex, corrupt, demorializing, and had lots of internal friction within the Japanese communities. No other novels has explored these issues, and has emphasized the physical conditions of living near Death Valley.

Dan: How is the book doing so far?

K.P.: It’s been slow but steady. I’ve been receiving great reviews from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads, so I know I’m on the right track! I still have other avenues in the marketing aspect to fulfill, and I’m knocking out each goal on my marketing one-by-one, and each step has shown results.

Dan: Any future releases reader should be aware of?

K.P.: By the Spring of 2014, I’m hoping to release How the Water Falls. Set in the backdrop during the last years of South Africa’s Apartheid, Falls unfolds both personal and political histories of the system’s victims, perpetrators, and unlikely heroes. You can keep follow the journey by checking out

Dan: Are you reading anything right now, or have you read anything recently that is worth mentioning?

K.P.: Water for Elephants and The Help are great samples of how historical fiction can enterain and educate while telling very personal stories of the human condtion.

Dan: Does music inspire or motivate you to write? If so, what kind of music?

K.P.: YES! Depending on what mood I’m in, I either use movie soundtracks, World Music, or New Age.

Dan: Who are some of your favorite authors? Favorite novels?

K.P.: John Stienbeck, F. Scott Fitzgearld, Leonard Bishop, Alice Walker, Amy Tan, and Sara Gruen. Empire of the Sun, Of Mice and Men, The Color Purple, and Water for Elephants.

Dan: Are you one of those people who don’t own a TV? Do you have any favorite TV Shows? Favorite movies?

K.P.: I love movies as much as I love books. Both provide different outlets while processing the art of storytelling as well as eductional avenues. I love just having my brain overstimulated in every possible way! Right now I’m hooked on “Locked Up Abroad,” “American Pickers,” and “The Big Bang Theory.” The movies list is MUCH longer, but I will keep it short so you don’t snooze out on me: Empire of the Sun, Schindler’s List, When Harry Met Sally, 9 to 5, Dances with Wolves, Glory, and The Color Purlple.

Dan: At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

K.P.: It was gradual. At first I imagined I would be an artist, (drawing and painting), but when I realized there were people far more talented, I wrote stories to satisfy my need to be somewhere else. And as I read more, I wanted to write more. When teachers began to compliment the stories I was writing for class as a teenager, something clicked in my brain. And I also love history. By combining my two loves only increased my need to become more self aware of understanding the world.

Dan: Tell us about your writing process.

K.P.: First I let ideas fester in my subconsious and when I’m ready to commit to writing, I begin researching about the time period and culture, and once I aquire enough information to get started, I begin writing incomplete scenes to see which part of the story feels right. It often starts out like puzzle pieces where I just pick out pieces and lay down a basic foundation until I start seeing how the story falls together. I don’t work with outlines; too restrictive. I only come up with who the people are, their backgrounds, and how they interact with each other. The historical references comes into play according to their personality type.

Dan: Are the names of the characters in your novels important?

K.P.: For many, yes. Their names represent who they are and how their status help elevate telling the story. For example, in Eyes Behind Belligerence, Jim/ Jimmu is one of the protagonists. Jim, short for Jimmu, is a complicated character. Struggling with being the dutiful son but wanting to achieve his independence, he is often misunderstood by others, even within his own community. He is the ideal brooding loner. In legend, Jimmu was the first emperor of Japan and thus Jim, who is first generation, slowly transforms into a leader, like his father, despite his absolute reluctance. Russell/ Goro is the other central protagonist, who is completely opposite from Jim. Outgoing and athletic, he is the all-American boy. But in spite of his apparent optimism, he too struggles with trying to honor Japanese traditions while desperately wanting to fit into American society. Changing his name from Goro to Russell, he creates a double identity fueled by self loathing. Ironically, it is his experiences in camp that ascends an awakening of his dual identity. As he shares his hardships with his Nisei friends, he slowly accepts his parents’ culture, thus finding honor. His birth name, Goro, represents the dedicated and nimble nature of his persona.

Dan: How do you define success as a writer? Have you been successful?

K.P.: Eyes Behind Belligerence is my debut novel. I’m still in the beginning stage of launching a writing career, but I project it’ll take a good five to six years before I start calculating success. I’m just thrilled to finally make that leap of faith!

Dan: Do you have words of wisdom about writing that you want to pass on to novelists and writers out there who are starting out?

K.P.: This is not an easy means to make money. Be determined, because it is a long road of rejections, dimissals, and critisims. Seek support from other writers.

Dan: What should readers walk away from your books knowing? How should they feel?

K.P.: Wow, I didn’t know that. This is so much better than reading those boring school history books!

Dan: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

K.P.: In the words of my late writing teacher, Leonard Bishop, who states it best: “I believe that if a writer can return to the world more than what the world has given him, then he has earned his keep, not only as a writer, but also as a human being. I also believe that whatever saves my life must be good. I have lived a God-blessed life, and I want to pass it on.”,

Bio: I am fortunate to have been trained by one the top ten writing teachers in the US, the late Leonard Bishop, and author of Dare to be a Great Writer. I owe my love of writing to him. I have been writing since childhood, however I do have a B.A. in History. Instead of applying a degree in creative writing, I wanted to focus on learning and understanding what motivates people of certain time periods to make them do what they did. And there are so many stories! I also wanted to learn from our mistakes and am conscious of how we’re all related to each other.







Be sure to check out some other indie author interviews:

Dan O’Brien
Editor, Empirical

Author: of The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, Cerulean Dreams, and The Journey
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