Fiction Fest: Paul Mark Tag’s ‘How Much Do You Love Me?’ kicks off August excerpts

How Much do you love me 2x3 WEBPaul Mark Tag made a career as a research scientist for over 30 years before he decided to switch gears and write fiction for a living. He’s written four books to date and his fifth, “How Much Do You Love Me?,” will be released on Aug. 12.

About the book: Lovers James and Keiko marry quickly before James goes to World War II and Keiko to an internment camp. Sixty years later their daughter Kazuko, born in the camps, uncovers a secret that could overwhelm the family. Discover the very definition of human love and self-sacrifice in this saga of war, mystery, and romance.

EXCERPT:

From the author: What follows is the actual Prologue to my book.  During the various editing phases of “How Much Do You Love Me?” there were discussions as to whether this Prologue was necessary.  Strictly speaking, it is not.  However, the editor’s eventual decision was to leave it in, that it set up one of the primary characters and gave a taste to the reader of what was to come.

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Japanese Internment Camp at Tule Lake, California

Saturday, July 25, 1942 

Her name that summer was Keiko Armstrong, but it hadn’t been for long. Some five months earlier, back in Bellevue, Washington, her name had been Keiko Tanaka. Keiko figured that she was probably the only Nikkei at the Tule Lake War Location Center with an Anglo surname.

Keiko’s family had arrived at Tule Lake in northern California one week earlier. They missed their home in Bellevue, where paranoia and mistrust had taken hold following the bombing of Pearl Harbor the previous December. Anyone who looked Japanese was suspected of being an enemy agent of the Japanese emperor, Hirohito. Executive Order 9066, signed by President Roosevelt, had devastated their lives. On February 19, 1942, this legislation dictated that all Japanese who lived along the coast in the western states, 120,000 strong, be shipped away from the Pacific where everyone feared the Japanese military would invade. Even Nisei, those second-generation Japanese Americans born in the United States—and thus legal citizens—could not escape the Juggernaut.

Keiko and her Japanese family had traveled to Tule Lake by way of Pinedale to the south, near Fresno, California, because the camp at Tule Lake was not yet finished when they departed Bellevue on May 20. For the most part, Japanese families from Bellevue had traveled together. They had arrived first at what were called Assembly Centers. Pinedale was one of fifteen such temporary locations.

The journeys to Pinedale and then Tule Lake had been especially unpleasant. They had traveled by train and only at night because other trains had priority during daytime. The hot days found their cars motionless on sidetracks. To make matters worse, the trains were old and smoky, dropping soot everywhere. The first part of their journey—925 miles from Bellevue to Pinedale—had taken four long days and nights.

Keiko and her family arrived at Tule Lake to discover a huge facility, designed to house internees in row after row of barracks. Cheaply built, each barrack consisted of four apartments. Keiko, her parents, two sisters, and brother had to make do with only one of these, a space measuring sixteen by twenty feet. A single bare bulb provided light, and a coal stove represented their source of heat.

Keiko hated the place, particularly the dark nights. Wind and dust made its way through cracks in the walls and floors. When she awoke that first morning after their two-month journey from Bellevue, she found her bedding black with dust. Their family, and everyone else in the compound, spent days scrounging for anything to stuff cracks in the floors and walls.

Because no one knew how long the war would last or what the government had planned for them in the interim, everyone was scared. Keiko missed her old life and especially her husband who had gone off to war. Worst of all, she worried for her baby who would arrive by January.