Thursday, December 1, 2011

How I Came to Write "Storm From A Clear Sky"

I was recently asked what motivated me to write "Storm From A Clear Sky"? 

In no particular order, I had a desire to understand the psychology behind Japan's participation in WWII. I'd lived and worked in Japan, had married a Japanese woman, and had grown increasingly interested in piercing their culture (no easy task). 

I was also fascinated by the story of the I-400 subs, which were virtually unknown when I began. I'd read a one sentence reference to them in a book many years ago, and had kept it in a file marked "story ideas." When the wreck of the I-401 was discovered in 2005, I realized her captain was still alive, which led me to pitch the editor of Aviation History, a magazine I'd been writing for, to do a story on the I-400 subs based on an interview with their flagship's captain. Since I take my kids to Japan once a year to see their grandmother (and maintain their Japanese), I thought I'd interview the captain while I was there. One thing led to another and PBS made a documentary about the I-400s called "Japanese SuperSub." Since it was based on my magazine article, I wrote several versions of the teleplay and served as technical consultant on the production. Nevertheless, I found the one hour television format so limiting I thought a book was necessary to tell the whole story from both the Japanese and American points of view.

So, that's the explanation. Though it hardly fits in a nutshell, the genesis of these things rarely springs from a single event. If I had to trace it to one thing, however, I'd say I just couldn't believe there was such a thing as an "underwater aircraft carrier" and had to understand why it was built.