A Bookish Conversation with ‘Gardens of Hope’ Michael Holloway Perronne
Michael Holloway Perronne is the author of eight books including: “A Time Before Me,” “Falling Into Me”, “A Time Before Us, Men Can Do Romance” “Gardens of Hope,” and”Embrace the Rain.” His debut novel, “A Time Before Me” won the BronzeAward, Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award in the Gay/Lesbian
Michael was born and raised in Mississippi. He received a BA in Film from
the University of Southern Mississippi and a MFA in Drama and Communications from the University of New Orleans.
He currently resides in Southern California and is working on his next novel, “The Other Side of Happy.”
His recent release is Gardens of Hope.
WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:
About the Book:
Title: GARDENS OF HOPE
Author: Michael Holloway Perronne
Publisher: Chances Press
Genre: Gay fiction/Historical Fiction/Historical Romance
On the surface, Jack appears to have all a man in World War II era 1941 could want with his solid middle-class background, upcoming college graduation, and the perfect, devoted fiancee. But one night when he accidentally stumbles upon a shadow life of men who desire other men in a Downtown Los Angeles park, he begins to realize exactly what has always left him with a feeling of emptiness.
Despite the constant danger of being arrested by vice cops, Jack continues to visit the park every chance he has to feel a connection, no matter how fleeting, with another man. One night he meets a handsome and charismatic Japanese-American, Hiro, who appears to want more than a quick encounter, and Jack surprises himself by starting to truly fall in love for the first time.
However, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt issues Executive Order 9066 and orders the mandatory relocation of over 100,000 Japanese-Americans, who have never been charged with a crime, to far flung internment camps sites. Jack and Hiro suddenly find themselves torn apart before their secret, fledgling romance can blossom. Desperate to find and reconnect with Hiro, Jack accepts a high school teaching position at an internment camp in the California desert, Manzanar. There, surrounded by armed guard towers and a prison-like environment, Jack begins to fully realize the injustices being faced by Japanese-Americans during one of the most controversial times of United States history and shifts his world view- forever.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Michael. Can you tell us where you are from?
I grew up in a tiny town about forty miles from New Orleans named Picayune, Mississippi, but I’ve called Los Angeles home for most of the past eighteen years.
Q: How did you come up with your title?
Gardens of Hope refers to the rock gardens Japanese-Americans built at the internment camps they were forced to relocate to during World War II during a period of intense anti-Japanese fear in the US. The camps were often in desolate, bleak places, and the rock gardens symbolized the undying hope and determination of the Japanese-Americans to try and make lives better under even the most challenging situation.
Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?
I have an amazing book designer named Geronimo Quitoriano. He does amazing work and is able to bring my vision to “light” for my covers. We often use a combination of original and stock photography to create the images. To go along with the title, I wanted a Japanese rock garden to be the emphasis for the cover.
Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?
Anyone who is frustrated and/or scared by today’s political climate will find disturbing parallels between what happened to Japanese-Americans during World War II and what’s happening today to many minority groups. It’s a story of what can happen when people let their irrational fears get out of hand but also a book about the need to get hope alive in your heart. Eventually, love does trump hate.
Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?
I think when my protagonist, Jack, arrives at the Manzanar internment camp in California was the most emotional for me to write. It’s at this point in the story that Jack truly begins to realize the horror of what has happened to the Japanese-Americans, and he begins to question just about everything he believed to be true after growing up in his middle class Caucasian community.
Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?
I had already written a number of gay-themed books mostly set in the American South. I knew I wanted to try my hand at a historical title and explore the forbidden love between two men from vastly different worlds. The more I began to learn about Japanese-American internment the more I realized I wanted to set the novel during this era to explore a love denied by not just homophobia but xenophobia as well.
Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?
I tend to eat peanut butter right out of the jar late at night!
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I would love to visit Cuba right now with the relaxed travel restrictions we now have. I have a feeling the island will soon experience a vast gentrification with the relaxed travel laws from the United States, and I’d like to visit before the island becomes “McDonalidized.”
Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?
I am without a doubt a morning person, especially when it comes to work. It’s as if my brain dies at five in the afternoon.
Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?
I had a great-grandmother who wrote her autobiography not long before she passed away. I only have a couple of brief memories of her from my childhood, but I’ve heard she loved to tell stories. I tend to think I inherited her passion for story-telling.
Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?
As soon as I could write, I began jotting down my own story ideas.
Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?
It would be that everyone began to treat each other as if we were the one family we actually are.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?
Thanks so much for hosting me today! I greatly appreciate it.