I was born in Seattle, Washington, spent most of my life there, and still live near that city. While growing up, I was always fascinated by storytelling in all its forms, whether it was someone telling a story, or stories told through books, television programs, or movies. Throughout my school years and while in college, I never thought about becoming a writer, since music and movies were my main interests.
I attended the University of Washington, hoping to learn about making movies. After graduating with a degree in communications, I worked as an actor for five years in Los Angeles. Since actors are out of work much of the time, I spent a lot of time reading. That's when I decided to become a writer, and started writing a novel about my high school and college days in Seattle.
I figured there was only one way to learn how to be a writer — write! I returned to Seattle and became a newspaper writer/reporter for about ten years. While working as a journalist, I learned how to use the least amount of words to say the most. That skill would later help me immensely in writing books for young readers.
Even though I always wanted to write adult novels, I was given a chance to write a children's picture book. The result was my first published book, Baseball Saved Us. Two more picture books followed, Heroes and Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story. And that novel I started writing in Los Angeles (the one about my high school and college days in Seattle) became the young adult novel Beacon Hill Boys; set to be published this fall.
Because I am of Japanese descent (my grandparents were from Japan), I have often experienced prejudice or being stereotyped, and those subjects are often included in my books. And because of those experiences, I feel it is my responsibility to tell America, through my books, that people of Asian descent have been a part of America for a long time.
My dream from my college days has now come true. I am making my own movies, except they are books in bookstores, rather than movies in theaters.