Genre Hopping with Naomi Hirahara

by Julie, enjoying the summer in Somerville

I am delighted to welcome Naomi Hirahara to the blog today! Naomi is a multi-published author who’s most recent book, Clark and Division, is getting wonderful reviews. Here’s a bit about the book:

Set in 1944 Chicago, Edgar Award-winner Naomi Hirahara’s eye-opening and poignant new mystery, the story of a young woman searching for the truth about her revered older sister’s death, brings to focus the struggles of one Japanese American family released from mass incarceration at Manzanar during World War II.

She truly genre hops, and she answered some questions for us.

What genres do you write in?

Traditional mystery, cultural mystery, historical mystery and noir

What drew you to the genre you write?

My love for context, or history. Understanding where we are today from the past.

What sets your book apart from what is out there?

There’s not much literature — both nonfiction or fiction — on what happened to Japanese Americans when they were released from wartime detention camps, and especially the experience in Chicago. There was a lot of juvenile delinquency that came out of this resettlement period of time — ripe for a mystery. That’s how my most recent historical, Clark and Division, evolved.

Do you write a series or standalones? Why?

Mostly series. I love developing characters over time and also to signal that this one book is not the end of the story. Clark and Division is officially a standalone but lo and behold, there will be a follow-up.

That’s great news! What are you working on now?

I’m currently developing the sequel to Clark and Division. It is called Evergreen, referring to a neighborhood in Boyle Heights in Los Angeles.

What are you reading right now?

Alexandra Chang’s Days of Distraction

Do you have a favorite quote or life motto?

Change before change gets you.

Favorite writing space?

Outside at a table at Caltech, but I’m usually at my living room table.

Favorite deadline snack?

It changes. Right now it’s rice crackers.

What do you see when you look up from writing?

Blankets crocheted by my husband’s grandmother and my grandmother. They are on a quilt rack.

Thank you for joining us today, Naomi. And congratulations on Clark and Division!


photo of Naomi Hirahara author of Clark and Division.
photo by Mayumi Hirahara

Naomi Hirahara is an Edgar Award-winning author of multiple traditional mystery series and noir short stories. Her Mas Arai mysteries, which have been published in Japanese, Korean and French, feature a Los Angeles gardener and Hiroshima survivor who solves crimes. The seventh and final Mas Arai mystery is Hiroshima Boy, which was nominated for an Edgar Award for best paperback original. Her first historical mystery is Clark and Division, which follows a Japanese American family’s move to Chicago in 1944 after being released from a California wartime detention center. Her second Leilani Santiago Hawai‘i mystery, An Eternal Lei, is scheduled to be released in 2022. A former journalist with The Rafu Shimpo newspaper, Naomi has also written numerous non-fiction history books and curated exhibitions. She has also written a middle-grade novel, 1001 Cranes.

IG and Twitter: @gasagasagirl

13 Thoughts

  1. Welcome, Naomi! I’m so excited to read Clark and Division, and congratulations on getting a sequel.

    Why Chicago? Have you lived there?

  2. Congratulations, Naomi!

    I remember the day I learned about the Japanese incarceration camps. It was 1968 and I was 16 and a student librarian, and I came across a book about the topic. I can still see the cover photo in my mind’s eye and feel the crinkle of the overwrap in my hand. It was a shocking discovery and since then, I’ve devoured anything I could find on the topic. I’m looking forward to reading Clark and Division.

  3. Naomi, your new book, Clark and Division, is a marvelous blend of deeply researched cultural history and suspense thriller. I loved it!

  4. Congrats, Naomi.

    As soon as I saw your name, I thought what a wonderful choice you are. After all, you have hopped quite a bit in your career as well.

  5. Congratulations on your new release Naomi, you are a new to me author, very nice to meet you. Your book sounds and looks very intriguing . Have a great rest of the day and an Awesome rest of the week.

  6. Sorry to see Mas Arai “retired”…a pleasure to have known him all these years. Looking foward Jerry to “Clark & Division”

Comments are closed.