When a book wants to be written there is no stopping the steam engine bursting with ideas and material that charges you way.
For Orchids of War I experienced one miracle after another that led to information I would not have begun to know where to look. My research was enhanced by the amazing, serendipitous encounters with people, objects, and places. These “gifts” contributed to my novel not only with factual information, storyline, but helped build my characters and their reactions to their surroundings.
Here is a small example. I would have been an absolute idiot not to have realized the importance of this finding.
I was moving a bookshelf and I happened on a rather thick book, and judging by its cover, concluded it had been one of my fathers and pertained to World War II. I set At Dawn We Slept, The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor in my “to be read—someday” pile.
Dad’s book called to me. My father, Joe Frisino, 1919-2008, spent over 35 years as reporter, day news editor, and columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, an arm of the Hearst Corporation. He enlisted before WWII and spent his years of service with the Army Signal Corps, most of his time working on the Burma Road.
Trusting his judgment, I eventually picked up At Dawn We Slept, somewhat dreading the 850 pages of details within. I opened it to look for pictures–ever hopeful. What I found instead sent shivers down my spine. Instantly I recognized the paper and type as having come across the newswires from the Seattle P-I. Just reading the first sentence I knew I had something special.
“WASHINGTON—Classified Japanese cables, intercepted and decoded by U.S. intelligence as much as a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor, reveal plans to create a fifth column movement in the United States using Japanese-Americans…”
I gingerly retuned that treasure to the exact page and flipped forward. The next news type made my stomach flip.
“13-AUG-82. TOYOKO (UPI) –Haunted by guilt, a Japanese soldier broke a 37-year silence Friday and confessed his part in atrocities committed during World War II. …In June, the Japanese government for the first time confirmed the existence of Unite 731, which reportedly killed about 3,000 POW’s in biological, chemical and human endurance experiments…”
That horrific bit of news I stuffed back into the fold of the book and considered if I wanted to search further. But the excitement of the hunt got the better of me. I flipped forward. My rewards brought tears to my eyes. There was a typed sheet with Cast of Characters, very helpful, but more importantly, hand written notes of my fathers as he read the book. I had struck gold and tenderly attempted to read my father’s script.
P 541 FUCHIDA planned for 2nd attack – pilots also wanted to go.
When I flipped this scrap of paper over, there was a note to my father from my mother. No paper was sacred in our home.
Another yellowed sheet of paper revealed;
798 4 days interviewing Kimmel
So what was going on?
I went to the front title page only to discover the hand-written dedication to my father by Donald Goldstein, Ph.D. Goldstein, along with Katherine V. Dillon, CWO, USAF (Ret.), helped consolidate the 3,500 pages, constituting thirty-seven years of research and work by author Gordon W. Prange, into the current book after Prang’s unfortunate death in 1980.
The ultimate miracle was unearthing a fading piece of newsprint hidden under the book jacket cover. Unfolding the unevenly cut strip of section A6 of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer dated May 6, 1982, was none other than dads review of the book. The circle was complete. The book and I were meant to become friends.
I treasure this book, complete with Dad’s notes, like no other.