Author Of The Week: Author Chat with Andrew Fukuda (This Light Between Us), Plus Giveaway!
Welcome to our weekly special feature post, Author Of The Week!!
Each week we will be interviewing a different YA author and highlighting their upcoming release!
We will also be hosting a giveaway of the book we are highlighting!!
Introducing Andrew Fukuda, YABC's Author of the Week!!
Born in Manhattan and raised in Hong Kong, ANDREW FUKUDA earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Cornell University and worked as a criminal prosecutor for seven years before becoming a full-time writer. Fukuda’s experience volunteering with the immigrant teen community in Manhattan’s Chinatown led to the writing of Crossing, his debut novel that was selected by ALA Booklist as an Editor’s Choice, Top Ten First Novel, and Top Ten Crime Novel. He currently resides on Long Island, New York, with his family.
Meet This Light Between Us!
In 1935, ten-year-old Alex Maki from Bainbridge Island, Washington is disgusted when he’s forced to become pen pals with Charlie Lévy of Paris, France—a girl. He thought she was a boy. In spite of Alex’s reluctance, their letters continue to fly across the Atlantic—and along with them, the shared hopes and dreams of friendship. Until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the growing Nazi persecution of Jews force them to confront the darkest aspects of human nature.
From the desolation of an internment camp on the plains of Manzanar to the horrors of Auschwitz and the devastation of European battlefields, the only thing they can hold onto are the memories of their letters. But nothing can dispel the light between them.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
Two separate historical facts were the inspiration for the book. The first is a little-known fact that Anne Frank had an American pen pal, although it was only a very brief exchange. The second is an even lesser-known fact that a sub-camp of Dachau was liberated by an all-Japanese-American military unit during the Second World War. These two facts bounced around in my head for a while but I didn’t really have a story yet. The dots naturally connected over time, and when Alex (the Japanese American boy) and Charlie (the French Jewish girl) became protagonists I cared about, I knew I’d found the emotional heart of a story I now really wanted to tell.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel came first! We had a working title for quite some time, but I think we always kind of knew it would change. My editor and went back and forth on a new title, and This Light Between Us evolved into being over the course of a few weeks. But I love it! Fun fact: I've since discovered a song by Armin van Buuren also titled This Light Between Us. And it's actually quite fabulous.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
My answer to this could change ten times over the next hour, but right now, I’d say it was the scene where Alex and his family are forced to leave their home on Bainbridge Island for the internment camps. The moment is so steeped in emotion; but it’s also historical as well. Even though the chapter pans the movement of Alex and his family, also caught in the lens are two other groups: the soldiers and the local white community. I think the scene captures the conflicting and raw emotions of all three groups quite well. And that’s what I really want to achieve as a historical fiction writer: bringing to life nearly-forgotten moments in history with as much historical accuracy and emotional verve and complexity (little of history is simple) as possible.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
This cover is a doozy: it’s conveys so many different emotions—like fear and hope and bravery—that seem to burn off the page all at the same time. I like how Charlie is gazing at you with eyes that seem both haunted and brave at the same time. And how she looms over everything, much the same way she looms in Alex’s hopes and fears and dreams. And I like how Alex is standing, stoic and upright even behind barbed wires, his determination and fierce pride clearly evident.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2019-2020?
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. Her debut novel, Station Eleven, is one of my favorites. Her writing is so clean yet evocative, and it’s something I try to emulate in my own. I’m eagerly counting down the days to The Glass Hotel.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
I’m working on another YA historical fiction set during WW2. It’s not a sequel to This Light Between Us, but it also covers a historical event that needs to be more widely known. This new book features a larger cast of main characters, and despite the fact that it’s dark, dark, dark, I’m writing with a sense of purpose. It’s scheduled to be published in the winter of 2021, or thereabouts.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I don’t mind drafting, but revising is probably my preference. It’s in the revising that (for me, at least) the novel is truly born, and the characters become fully fleshed out. One of my books (I won’t say which!) was so bad after the first draft I considered abandoning it. But with dogged determination (see below) I stuck with it, and sometime during the fifth revision, a diamond was born out of the rough. It’s now one of my favorite books.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
Dogged determination. I can keep at something to the very end no matter the obstacles or setbacks. Not a bad superpower for someone to possess in the publishing industry!
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
The Guide Dog Foundation (https://www.guidedog.org/). They provide well-trained, top-pedigree dogs to improve the quality of life for people who are blind, have low vision, or have other special needs. I was a puppy raiser for them, and although the puppy (Lenny) was ultimately more suited to be a pet than a guide dog (we adopted him!), I got to see firsthand what a great organization they are.
This Light Between Us
By: Andrew Fukuda
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: January 7th, 2020
Five winners will each receive a copy of This Light Between Us (Andrew Fukuda) ~ (US & Canada Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*
The cover is beautiful and the synopsis sounds astounding. I have read quite a bit of historical fiction based on this time period, and this sounds like an excellent addition to the genre. Best wishes to the author on the novel.
The cover looks beautiful & the story sounds incredibly interesting to me especially because I like to learn more about both my Japanese & Jewish heritage & what life would've been like if I had lived during WW2.
I like the design of the book cover. This story sounds emotional and gripping. I think I will like these characters.