Author Spotlight – Alexa Kang

Welcome to Lavender Lass Books, Alexa. Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview!

Alexa Kang is an author of WWII and 20th century historical fiction. Her works include the novel series “Rose of Anzio”, an epic love story that begins in 1940 Chicago and continues on to the historic Battle of Anzio in Italy; and the “Shanghai Story” trilogy, a saga chronicling the events in Shanghai leading up to WWII and the history of Jews and Jewish refugees in China. Her current work, the “Nisei War Series”, is a collection of stories about second-generation Japanese-Americans in war situations around the world during WWII. Alexa’s other works include the WWII/1980s time-travel love story “Eternal Flame” (a tribute to John Hughes), as well as various short stories, including those in the fiction anthologies “The Darkest Hour” (a USA Today Bestseller”), “Pearl Harbor and More: Stories of December 1942”, “Christmas in Love”, and “Wartime Christmas Tales”.

Alexa grew up in New York City and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. She has traveled to more than 150 cities, and she loves to explore new places and different cultures. She loves writing larger-than-life love stories and 20th century historical fiction, and hopes to bring you many more.

“An easy, delightful read that pushes readers to see the war through different eyes.” Eoin Dempsey, author of White Rose Black Forest and The Longest Echo.

A triumphant tale of a young woman’s rise to the call of duty in her country’s hour of need. A heroine’s journey through faith, heartbreaks, and friendships to discover her voice and bring home victory.

Growing up on Oahu, Vicky Kondo never thought she would stray from a woman’s traditional path. A Nisei daughter of a Japanese pastor, she dutifully obeys her parents and puts others above herself. Engaged to a young man with a promising career, she is content to become the docile wife everyone expects her to be.

Her world shatters when Japan launches a devastating attack on Pearl Harbor. Her twin brother, Vincent, a soldier serving in the Hawaiian National Guard, is killed defending his base. His death leaves an aching void Vicky could never fill. Her wound remains unhealed until a U.S. Army colonel offers her a chance to join the Women’s Army Corps. If she serves, she can grant Vincent his last dying wish—to defend their country.

Her intent to enlist appalls her family. Always quiet and agreeable, Vicky must now defy her parents and her fiancé. To them, a woman has no place in war or the army. Can she overcome the pressure to appease and pursue her wish?

What challenges and adventures will lie ahead if she dares to take a different path and stand on her own?

– – – A heartwarming story that shines a light on the rarely told history of Japanese-American women who served in WWII, don’t miss this second book of Alexa Kang’s Nisei War Series.

An evocative, yet light-hearted WWII story . . . had me reading late into the night. Marion Kummerow, USA Today bestselling author of the War Girls series

“Uplifting and unforgettable . . . This is a winner!”
Jana Petken, multi-award-wining author of The German Half-Bloods

“This enthralling story will make you laugh and cry. A must read.” — Angela Christina Archer, author of The Promises Between Us Trilogy

And now to the interview:

1.  What do you want to share with us about this story?  What really stands out about it and made you want to write it?
This novel is the second book in my Nisei War Series. This is a series of stories about second-generation Japanese-Americans during WWII, a group that is vastly overlooked in WWII fiction. My series is even more unique because, rather than focusing on the internment camps, my stories are about Japanese-Americans’ war experiences around the world. In this novel, the main character, Vicky Kondo, confronts the social constraints imposed upon women of her time when she decides to join the US WAC (US Women’s Army’s Corps.)

2.  Why do you write in this genre?  What makes this genre particularly appealing to you?
I really admire the strength, courage, and resilience of people who lived during the war era. I think our world today don’t cherish these values enough. Sometimes these values are even looked down upon. I want to create worlds for readers to whom these virtues still matter. Also, there are many lessons we can learn from our mistakes of the past in WWII. I think collectively as a society, we have forgotten many of those lessons.

3.  What made you decide to become an author?  Can you tell us a little about that journey?
I fell into writing by accident! I started out writing fanfiction of a Japanese manga story, “Candy Candy”, which is today out of print but is still very popular among women in non-English speaking countries around the world who watched the anime adaptation as little girls during the late 70s to early 80s. The fandom is still very active. I gained a dedicated following from my fanfics, and I started writing a new story in which I created the children of the main characters of “Candy Candy”. These children are my own creation, and their story became my debut WWII series “Rose of Anzio.” From there on, I continued writing.

4.  Why did you choose to self-publish?  Are there advantages to self-publishing?  What about the challenges?
When I wrote “Rose of Anzio”, I was posting the chapters on a “Candy Candy” fan forum for my fanfic readers as I was writing. But “Rose of Anzio” was really a story that stands on its own apart from “Candy Candy”, and my readers encouraged me to get it publish. But unbeknownst to me, by posting the chapters online, the story had already lost its “first publishing right”. It was deemed already published, and no publisher would accept it. Thankfully, Amazon has given writers the option to self-publish. I decided then to publish the story myself, and bring it to a wider audience.

There are so many advantages and challenges to self-publishing that I don’t think I can cover them all here. I would say the best advantage for me is I set the release schedule. I don’t have to wait two years for the publisher to work through everything before publication. Some of my readers had lived through WWII, and they had passed away since reading my stories. If I had to adhere to the publisher’s timeline, they would not have had the chance to read my stories.

As for the biggest challenge, I would definitely say it’s visibility.

5.  Where do you get ideas for your stories?  Do they come to you over time, or do you suddenly think of an idea and realize it would make a great story?
I’m a pantser at heart. I do get ideas for my stories from researching WWII history. But mostly, I just let ideas come to me rather than look for them. My inspiration can come from anywhere out of nowhere. Maybe a song I heard (and it doesn’t have to be a song from the war era either). Maybe seeing an actor or actress, and I’d suddenly get the idea that he or she would be in a particular war scenario. Anything can be a source of inspiration for me in the most unexpected way.

6.  Do you write (or plan to write) in any other genres?
I do want to dip into women’s fiction. But I’ll have to find the time!! Writing and self-publishing is very time consuming.

7.  What do you look for in a story?  Especially in your genre?  (Original ideas, plot lines, character development, world building, research, etc.?)
I’m a romantic at heart. I’m constantly looking for that hero in wartime who I can fall in love with. I’m always searching for that strong, brave hero who won’t make any excuses and won’t be deterred by injustices inflicted upon him, but who finds ways to overcome it and survive. I look for the same in heroines too. I love stories in which the heroine dares to stand and confront evil face-to-face, even at the risk of her own life.

8.  What is one thing you wish you’d known when you first started writing?
I can’t really think of any. The indie-pub market changes so rapidly, it’s a constant learning curve. Whatever I could’ve know when I started are now mostly obsolete. Plus, I was very prepared before I published my first book. I scored internet forums for indie pub writers and learned all the ropes, and devised a sound marketing plan to make my launch a success.

9.  Are you working on a new book?  Can you share any details?
The novels in the Nisei War series are standalones, but the characters are loosely interlinked. The next (and third) book in this series will be my next. It will focus on Kastuo Sakai, a soldier fighting in Europe in the famous all Japanese-American 442nd Regiment. Katsuo is the older brother of Tom Sakai, the main character in the first book in this series, and a love interest of Vicky Kondo, the main character in the second book in this series.

10.  Do you have any advice you would offer to writers who plan to self-publish?
Self-publishing is not for a faint of heart. It is not vanity publishing, and it entails a lot of hard work. And to gain a steady audience, you have to market and promote. Many authors did not get into writing to do marketing work, but that’s the reality. You have to make a plan for how to help your books be discovered. It’s a good idea to join authors groups on Facebook, and listen to some podcasts on self-publishing, so you can learn how best to enter the market.

You can find Alexa Kang’s book at Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Star-Spangled-Heart-Novel-Nisei-ebook/dp/B09K6S5DT6

Thank you so much for sharing all this with us, Alexa. You can find out more about Alexa and her books, including the Rose of Anzio series, at the links below:

Website – http://alexakang.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/roseofanzio/

BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/alexa-kang

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