Author Rodney Barker enters the DM Zone and The Author Show with this interview by the ChicLits – Danielle Hampson and Dianemarie (DM) Collins.
In 1955, ten years after the end of World War II, a group of American philanthropists put together a humanitarian project unique in world history: they invited 25 young Japanese women, terribly disfigured in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, to come to America for plastic and reconstructive surgery. This is the never-told-before-story of that project. It goes behind the scenes of how it was put together. It examines the complex reaction on the part of the American military who tried, unsuccessfully, to stop the project. It follows the women personally on their unique journey to the “enemy country”. And it goes on to look at what happened to them when they returned to Japan.
About Rodney Barker
Biography of Rodney Barker
Although I grew up in Darien, Connecticut, a small, coastal town whose affluence identified it as part of New England’s “Gold Coast,” my childhood was modestly middle-American. Sports and fishing were my passion, and I was lucky in both. I was a member of the Little League All-Star team that went to the World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and I played halfback on the high school football team that won the state championship. Every Opening Day of fishing season you could find me throwing spinners and worms into trout streams, and every Christmas I would join my grandfather in Key Largo, Florida, trolling for mackerel and marlin in the Gulf Stream.
What differentiated my family was that we were Quakers, and we regularly opened our home to others less fortunate: Fresh Air Fund kids from the inner cities; a foreign exchange student from Brazil; two of the Hiroshima Maidens, young women disfigured in the atomic bombing of Japan who were brought this country for surgical repair; and two of the Ravensbruck Lapins, as they were called: Polish women subjected to senseless medical experiments by Nazi doctors. Sitting in on all those interviews by reporters who came to the house, and listening to the dramatic, human stories that were told, inspired me and set my course as a writer.
After graduating in Philosophy from Knox College in Illinois, and studying Creative Writing in the Masters Program at San Francisco State, I cobbled together a career in journalism – first as the editor of a small weekly newspaper in Durango, Colorado, then as an investigative freelancer for national magazines, and finally as an author, penning non-fiction books for Viking Penguin and Simon & Schuster. Some of my books fell into the true crime genre, others were attempts to rescue chapters in human history before they were forgotten. With my last book I achieved most of my goals: a national book tour and appearances on Good Morning America and CNN; bestseller lists, foreign and movie rights; and an invitation to testify before a Congressional hearing.
I was passing through Chicago on a research trip for another book when I came upon Cow Parade, the public art exhibition featuring artistically transformed, life-size fiberglass cows. I was charmed, and upon returning to my home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I decided to take a hiatus from writing and launch a similar project that would add a new chapter to the history of the horse in art. This project evolved into the development of a collectible figurine company – The Trail of Painted Ponies, Inc (paintedponies.com) – that has become a successful business story.
The love of writing never left, however, and several years ago I began carving out time to write a novel that drew on stories I’d heard and people I’d known when I lived in Durango, especially an elderly ranch widow with an extraordinarily colorful history with whose passing the Wild West came closer to ending. Fiction grounded in fact, my first novel, Tequila Twilight, will be published in 2016.