APKY/AMP: Hello Reiko and welcome to AuthorMeProfessionals for this interview. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer. What inspired you to write your first book?
I am a naturalized U.S. citizen. I came to the country of my childhood dreams from Japan in 1972 at the age of 23. I have lived in America for 40 years. I cannot help but notice the historical and cultural differences that shaped the respective countries.
I became a writer after a third near-death experience as an adult. The fact that my life was spared three times made it crystal clear to me what I needed to get done before my time was up here on Earth. The title of my book reflects this background: “To America – With Profound Gratitude: My Journey to Freedom and Independence.”
APKY/AMP: It sounds very inspirational, Reiko. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
My autobiography is the only book I have written so far. So biography is the appropriate genre.
I’m working on a sequel, actually. The content, however, is heavily about investing – addressing the issue of the world-wide economic downturn and what my individual responsibilities are as I work to sustain freedom and independence for the rest of my life. So you could say that the genre for the sequel is a mixture of biography and investing / business.
APKY/AMP: Then we at AuthorMeProfessionals can only wish you good luck for the sequel. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The message that I would like readers to grasp is this. Whether or not we recognize it in our day-to-day lives, we all live in the context of history. And, sadly, much of the world history is filled with violence. Causes range from religious differences, to territorial claims, to racial prejudices, to inability to control anger, to whatever else. Most of us humans – regardless of race or national origin – have both good and evil within us. In an environment where we get to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – as manifested by my adopted country – we can CHOOSE to be good based on the love with which we are born.
Within my book, I used an example of Japan’s history and environment because that’s what I know and understand. I hope that the reader can easily see a parallel between the evil that was controlling Japan before it was brought to its knees in August 1945 and what is happening in the world today in the form of terrorism. They depict a completely different people and set of circumstances; yet the same human behavior. Evil is like a cancer. Once infested, it will not die without intervention by an outside force. Evil begets evil and is passed down through generations – until and unless individuals are given an opportunity to recognize it for what it is and do something about it. This, of course, is much easier said than done – particularly for those who grow up with violence, as I did. In my own very small world, where I have been able to enjoy freedom as an adult in a completely different environment, I have been able to CHOOSE to denounce violence. By the same token, those countries which value peace, freedom, and independence must be strong militarily in order to defend these values. Why? Well, because bullies only understand their own behavior, which is violence.
APKY/AMP: As I said, inspirational. And you’re right that all human beings have both the good and the evil in them and one can indeed choose. What have you had published to-date?
An autobiography, “To America – With Profound Gratitude: My Journey to Freedom and Independence.”
APKY/AMP: Right, you mentioned that at the beginning. Now, do you have any advice for other writers?
Listen to your heart. Write what’s in your heart.
APKY/AMP: Which usually brings out some great writing. So, from your point of view, why should we buy your book?
It describes what it was like growing up in post-WWII Japan where tradition was still everything. In the name of harmony, people would not dare speak of family shame with outsiders. It’s a true story of overcoming adversity in life.
In addition, I share my experiences of coming to the United States as an adult, assimilating to the new culture – including life in corporate America at Chrysler, helping Lee Iacocca compete against the Japanese automakers – and, today, doing whatever I can to remain financially free and independent.
There is a section on “What I love about America.” This country turned out to be everything I dreamed it would be and then some.
APKY/AMP: Wow. Now to the next writer’s problem today: How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Quite a lot for both my book as well as myself as a ‘brand.’ In fact, I’m in a program called Best Seller Blueprint. It is taught primarily by Steve Harrison, who has a track record of making many authors famous – such as Jack Canfield of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series; and Robert Kiyosaki of the “Rich Dad Poor Dad” series. Much of the content for this program was developed by Steve Harrison and Jack Canfield. Currently, much of my time is being spent establishing solid foundation for an eventual massive publicity.
APKY/AMP: Yes, I know about Steve and his brother Bill. I’ve participated in some of his webinars, but living in Europe, it’s rather difficult for me to attend his USA programmes in person. Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
The only competition I had participated in was in Japan in 1968. I won first place in an intercollegiate English essay contest, sponsored by Asahi Evening News.
This was so long ago. So I don’t know whether or not competitions, in general, help with a writer’s success. For my case, what it did was give me a tremendous confidence, knowing that it was a national contest. It proved to me that I could write an essay – in my second language – that makes people think.
APKY/AMP: That’s wonderful, Reiko. So is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
I like writing at home where it’s peaceful. Within it, I like having a change of scenery every so often – to give me a fresh view and perspective. Regardless of which room, it is always by the window. I love the different hues of greenery and the animals that come and visit, such as deer, squirrels, all sorts of beautiful birds, including turkeys.
APKY/AMP: Sounds very poetic. And do you write under a pseudonym? If so why and do you think it makes a difference?
No, I do not. It’s an autobiography.
APKY/AMP: J Wait till you have a name like mine; you’d probably make it all initials even in an autobiography! Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
No, I do not have an agent. I believe good ones can be vital to an author’s success. At some future point, when my book sales begin to soar, I may choose to work with an agent.
APKY/AMP: Good luck with that, Reiko. What are you working on at the moment / next?
As briefly mentioned earlier, I’m working on a sequel to my autobiography because I’m still alive! It will continue with what I have been focused on to remain free and independent.
APKY/AMP: Right. And do you manage to write every day?
I “write” everyday due to the nature of my work as an investor and as a promoter of my first book – but not necessarily “write my next book consciously” every day.
APKY/AMP: It’s still “practice” all the same, I think. J What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
I didn’t have a writer’s block with my first book. The reason may be that what I wrote was my own story, the story that I knew I needed to write. If I were to have a writer’s block, I think I would walk away from my PC and play the piano. By the way, I always have a pen and paper by my night stand so that I can capture thoughts that I think are important to write about. I often seem to have better inspirations when I wind down at the end of the night.
APKY/AMP: Another good writer’s habit – always ready to jot a thought down. Tell me, even in a biography, do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and off you are with it?
For the first one, I had an outline as to how I lived my life. For the sequel, I have an outline of how I expect the story to develop in time.
APKY/AMP: Uh-huh. So who’s your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
APKY/AMP: Good choice! Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
I did multiple editing myself after I believed I was done writing. Then I hired a professional editor.
APKY/AMP: Share him or her with me – I desperately need a professional editor, Reiko. That aside, do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
I prefer a computer.
APKY/AMP: Okay. What do you like to read?
Almost anything that is non-fiction and helps with my business of investing and marketing my book. How-to books. Biography. History.
APKY/AMP: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks?
Manage our investment portfolio. Play Wii tennis and do Wii exercises such as yoga, strength training, and aerobics. Read. Play the piano.
APKY/AMP: Wow, quite a handful. So where can we find out about you and your work?
My website: www.ReikoMcKendry.com
Kirkus Reviews: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/search/?q=reiko+mckendry&x=0&y=0
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Reiko-McKendry/e/B007VDWWZU
APKY/AMP: Okay. Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
My primary target audience for my first book is World War II veterans who fought in the Pacific. I really want them to know that Japanese people also appreciate what they did to bring the war to an end and then help Japan rebuild into a strong democracy. I have even recorded a short video of gratitude for their service, www.ThankYouVeterans.net, and hope to have as many of them view it as possible. For the sequel, it will be the baby boomers (children of those who fought and/or experienced WWII, like me) whose retirement future is being shaken financially.
APKY/AMP: A great contribution. Thank you, Reiko. I now invite you to include an extract of your writing:
It is available at my website, www.ReikoMcKendry.com under “autobiography,” under “excerpts.” Or you can simply click on them here:
From Episode I: http://reikomckendry.com/autobiography/excerpts/from-episode-i/
From Episode II: http://reikomckendry.com/autobiography/excerpts/from-episode-ii/
APKY/AMP: Thank you once again, Reiko, and we at AuthorMeProfessionals wish you all the best in future.
This has been fun. Thank you very much!