Interview

An Interview with Kim Hooper, Author of Cherry Blossoms Can someone truly abandon his will to survive? And if they do, how does ordinary life test that will? From the author of the critically-acclaimed debut novel People Who Knew Me comes the story of thirty-four-year-old Jonathan Krause. Determined to end his life with the dignity of the Japanese samurai, Jonathan is a man with a plan. He writes: Today is an otherwise ordinary Monday, made extraordinary by the fact that it is the beginning of my eight-month countdown. I am now a human with an expiration date. What ensues hereafter is a story that gives insight into the human soul. Prepare yourself for an emotional journey, one that is at times very funny, sometimes gut wrenching. Jonathan has just one wish. He would like to visit Japan and make it for the famed blooming of the Cherry Blossoms (his reasons, are pretty riveting and make for some solid storytelling). In preparation for his final voyage, he enrolls in a Japanese language class where he meets Riko, who has her own plans to visit her homeland, for very different reasons. The unexpected and unusual friendship leads to a trip the pair makes to Japan and let’s just say…the rest is magic. Maribel Garcia: Well, Kim, you have done it again, you have written another skillfully written novel. And I have to say, this is a such a fresh perspective on how to go about life when it feels like you just can’t go on anymore.

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It must have been a challenge to write about such a controversial topic Kim Hooper: Author Response MG: Japanese lessons break the stream of Jonathan’s memories. Kim Hooper: Author Response MG: The plot culminates in a trip to Japan that takes both characters to places of reckoning. Why Japan? You seem to know so much about it and your knowledge and what Japan, as a character brought, made this novel so good. Kim Hooper: Author Response Jonathan’s story and the reason he’s planning to commit suicide unfolds slowly over the course of this novel and the reason for his grief soon becomes integral to the story’s plot. MG: The tremendous success of the book and Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” has shown us that there’s a hunger for literary explorations of suicide. Suicide is a major theme in your novel and it is handled very well. Personally, given that our lives seem to get more and more complicated by the day, it is nice to be able to investigate such a dark subject through fiction. What was the most challenging part about writing about this topic? KH: MG: Joanathan Kraus could be…such a jerk sometimes. I know that you have written elsewhere that while you may not always agree with your characters, you do understand their decisions. I guess that you would have to, since you create them, what was it like to write about such a flawed character? Include examples. KH: Response MG: How did you come up with Riko’s character? She is such a critical component of the story, yet tangential. The friendships formed in this book extend to the reader and you get sucked into their story. Where did the inspiration for his friend come from? KH: Response MG: ‘Cherry Blossoms’ is at times a deep meditation on words, life, literature, and being in the world. Was this deliberate, inserting life lessons? Or did it just organically materialize? KH: Response MG: You take what some would consider a very brave risk in adopting a male narrative voice and it pays off, giving us a fresh new perspective on men and the women who change their lives, what was doing this like? KH: Response MG: Kim, thank you so much for joining us today. We look forward to more of your writing.

Kim Hooper lives in Southern California with her husband and an absurd number of pets. People Who Knew Me is her debut novel. Ideas for Kim Hooper’s Cherry Blossoms Bio: Questions: more about living an imperfect life and coming to terms with accepting that sometimes life sucks. But sometimes it surprises you and reminds you why it’s a much better idea to stick around., so much so it Not only do we learn some profoundly intimate truths about human relations, but we learn about the Japanese language on a narrative tour of Japan’s most breathtaking locales and cultural traditions. There is a revelatory authenticity to her writing with such lines as: “I’ve heard too many horror stories of bridge jumpers surviving and spending their remaining years as mute vegetables, unable to speak in response to their loved ones pained question: how the hell could you do this to us?” A beautifully written and insightful look into grief, love and despair on a very personal level. ] Something has happened to this individual and it is enough that he no longer has the will to live, so as a result, he is determined to take his own life. The way that he goes about it makes for an utterly fascinating read. With its melancholy premise, Cherry Blossoms interrogates what it means to face uncertainty. Beneath Jonathan’s exploration of suicide.

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