12.20.2006

HH Com 197 (193)

World War II veteran, George Waterson, has suffered for over fifty years. When the past he tried to forget reappears in the form of a granddaughter he never knew about, he must once again relive his nightmares of the Bataan Death march, Japanese prison camps and layers of guilty deeds he could never forgive.

Upon the death of her grandmother, Naomi Yamamoto discovers an old prison journal belonging to her grandfather, Captain Shiro Yamamoto, a Japanese war criminal. The journal sets forth the tragic fate of the Yamamoto clan, a once powerful samurai family destroyed by an Emperor’s lust for domination over all Asian lands. It further reveals that he is not her real grandfather and sends her on a journey to discover the fateful friendship between a Japanese officer and an American prisoner of war.

Thousand Year Silence is the story of two men caught in a political and military maelstrom. George and Shiro return home to different worlds, one to a hero’s welcome in a victorious nation, the other to await trial in a devastated land occupied by a foreign government. But both men are broken shadows of what they once were, trying to rebuild their lives in the wake of ultimate tragedy.

Through the secret heartache of an old man and a forgotten journal, Naomi pieces together the tragic events and the dark shame of war that poisoned all of their lives.

The biological imperitive of this plot confuses me. George is a prisoner of war? He's a grandfather to a Japanese woman Naomi? Who's the grandmother? And please tell me how in the world an American prisoner of war came into contact with a Japanese woman? Knowing even a bit about Japanese culture, I doubt she found ol George attractive at all.

You're going to have to be much more specific about how this story gets started. Right now it's just directionless blather.

Focus on the heart of the story. Hook us with that.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

But the title is beautiful. :)

M. Takhallus. said...

I think Miss Snark is a tad too negative. I like the premise -- what yiou have -- but right now Naomi is in a passive, framing role. Give her something to do.

ORION said...

I actually find this hook quite compelling. I enjoy these type of forays into the past. I am confused about Miss Snark's comment re: her doubt a Japanese woman would find a caucasian man attractive-Or even have access to a POW.
My father was stationed in Japan in 1945 and could refute both of these statements.
Here in Hawaii there is ample evidence the statement made is faulty.
However I agree the hook could be more effective by showing us why we should care about this story i.e. how it impacts the daughters life now.

Anonymous said...

The hook seems to imply that the woman is the product of a relationship between the two men (while interesting, biologically not happening). I think you need to clarify where she comes from as she seems important to the story.

RT

Zolah said...

This sounds a little like 'Tamar' by Mal Peet (Carnegie Medal winner in the UK). Secrets between two men who met in the second world war haunt them all their lives and are finally brought out into the light by one of their descendants via a diary. 'Tamar' is young adult/crossover, but it might be an idea for the author to read this and do some research to see how it was sold and presented.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love the "powerful samurai family destroyed" portion. But the hook is hard to follow. It seems to me you're trying too hard to shroud everything in mystery instead of letting go of some juicy tidbits to catch the attention. I don't think a hook is the place to hold those close to your vest. You can do that without revealing the end. And, yeah, the title is wonderful.

December Quinn said...

I agree on the title, and I love the basic idea--the American prisoner, the Japanese war criminal, the downfall of a powerful Japanese family in the wake of WWII.

marie-anne said...

I think that naomi isnt related to george, but shiro's grand daughter? Either way, the Bataan death march was in the Phillipines and i doubt that any Japanese women were involved with that atrocity. There weren't a lot of japanese women involved in WWII. I dont think, anyway.

ello said...

Thanks Miss. Snark and thanks everyone for your lovely comments. Writing an effective hook has been incredibly difficult, hundreds of attempts and I still didn't get it right! I've tried so many variations putting more about Naomi and her grandmother, taking them out and putting more about George and Shiro, focusing on the love story, focusing on the war, Argh!

Regarding how a POW and Japanese woman would interact during the war, POW's in Japan were forced to hard labor in steel mills, coal mines and other various factories for the war effort. All available Japanese citizens and children over fourteen, were forced to work for the military. LIke in the states, women were a major workforce. A large number of the Japanese citizenry were also poor and starving during the war. In my novel, the relationship between the POW and Naomis grandmother occurs during the chaotic period after the atomic bombs are dropped and the POWs are freed but are still in the camps waiting to be shipped home. Cases of food and supplies are parachuted to the camps placing the former POWs in better circumstances then the starving people around them. George and Naomi's grandmother's one day together results in pregnancy which she discovers after a terrible tragedy occurs causing George to run away in shame from her and take active steps to leave the camp and head out for the nearest US military outpost contrary to posted orders. Starving and having to care for her younger siblings, she turns to the camp commander, Captain Yamamoto for help. Well that's the backdrop for the relationships but I can't figure a way to put that in a 250 hook. :o)

Thanks for the compliments on the title, it is part of a tanka death poem in my book and it correlates to the silence of the people under a military regime.

Zolah - thanks for your note, I looked in Amazon, but the book is not available here until January. Guess I have to wait!

Kim said...

I like the story line, but you might want to rethink Yamamoto's name, since there was a famous WWII Japanese admiral named Isoroku Yamamoto. I don't know if that's a common surname, but it might lead some to think you're writing a non-fiction novel (a la In Cold Blood), or something like it, about the real guy, and it might cause trouble. Especially since your character becomes a war criminal.

Just something to keep in mind, but otherwise, a thumbs up :)

xiqay said...

Gee Miss Snark, I think I understood the plot.

George was an American soldier during WWII. He raped a Japanese woman. Later he was a POW himself in the Philippines.

Naomi, a granddaughter he doesn't know about, grows up Japanese and reads her grandfather's journal, to learn about the rape.

Naomi pieces together the horrors of WWII on the personal level.

Even though I understood it and I like the historical part of it, it sounds boring as a novel. It sounds like reading through Naomi about the real story involving George and Shiro. As a plot device, this removes me the reader from the action and, although this brings it closer to my personal time, it distances me from caring.

fwiw.

Is this a novel about Naomi coping with a new-found past? or is it a novel about a conflict in the past?

Good luck.

xiqay said...

Well, having read the comments thread, maybe I didn't get the story right.

(My version seemed plausible to me from the hook-it's what I took away from it. So author, you might see where you lead us poor readers astray.)

So author, good luck on straightening out the hook.

HawkOwl said...

I liked the POW angle thing. Could be very interesting. The rest was confusing and disconnected and didn't suggest a good execution. Also, the "dark shame of war" part was melodramatic. Even if the two characters who were actually in the war feel guilty about it, I don't see how it would poison "all their lives." Whoever all the other people are.