Where are you from?
I was an Army brat growing up, and I have lived in many different towns. I began high school in Japan and finished in Colorado. I moved to Joplin, Missouri from New Mexico in 2007.
What’s your latest news?
At the moment, I’m doing a final edit of my YA novel Voices of the Locusts. The story opens in a hospital room. From his deathbed, 81-year-old Jack O’Brien reveals to his grandson the existence of a long-forgotten story he wrote as a teenager years earlier while living in Japan. The 16-year-old grandson finds the story in an old footlocker in his grandfather’s attic, and spends days pouring over the real-life account. Set at a U.S. military base in rural Japan in 1948, and playing out against a backdrop of swirling post-War social change, Jack’s Voices of the Locusts tells the story of three families—one black, one white, one Asian. Woven into the story is Jack’s love for a Japanese girl, Fujiko Kobaysi, who has been promised in marriage by her parents to an older man. Told in vivid and sometimes haunting detail, Jack and Fujiko are frustrated in their romantic quest by story characters coming to terms (often violently) with the emotional scars of World War II.
When did you begin writing?
I took my first writing job at 19 as a sports writer for the El Paso Times. I began writing fiction full time after a long career in journalism and public relations. Voices of the Locusts is my fourth novel. A multi-genre author, my choice of novels to write is determined not by genre, but by the weight of the story. I love the freedom of writing in any genre—none of my four novels are of the same genre. (Santa Fe Crazy, 2010, satire; Latitude 38, 2011, dystopian thriller; A Boy Called Duct Tape, 2012, middle-grade adventure written under the pen name Christopher Cloud; Voices of the Locusts, 2012, young adult.) I graduated from the University of Missouri in 1967 with a degree in journalism. I have worked as a reporter, editor, and columnist at newspapers in Texas, California, and Missouri. I was employed by a Fortune 100 company as a public relations executive, and later operated my own public relations agency. I attended high school in Japan, and much of Voices of the Locusts is based on personal experience.
What made you decide to become a writer?
I developed a love for literature while in college. Reading Steinbeck, Hemingway, and Melville, to name a view, inspired me. However, I never had the discipline to pursue writing fiction fulltime until I was retired and in my 60s.
What inspired this book?
When my father was stationed in Japan, he took me duck hunting on numerous occasions. He would hire a local fisherman to ferry us around the Sea of Japan in search of ducks. After each hunting expedition, my father would leave his shotgun with this poverty-stricken fisherman, who used the weapon to put food on his family’s table: ducks, pheasants, rabbits. This was during the Occupation following World War II, and Japanese were not allowed to have weapons of any kind. I built the novel around my father’s generosity. In Voices of the Locusts, my father’s kindness had a tragic downside, and played a major role in the climax to the story.
How did you decided on the title?
The title is taken from an ancient Japanese poem of the same name. The words in the poem mirror the anguish of many story characters.
Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
If there is a message, it would be this: The scars of war never fully heal.
How much of this book is from life?
Much of this story is taken from my two years of living in Japan as a teenager. I don’t think civilians realize that there is a great deal of interaction between young enlisted soldiers and teenage military dependents. Voices of the Locusts chronicles this interaction, some of which is sordid.
What authors have influenced you?
Stephen King, John Steinbeck, J.D.Salinger.
What are your current projects?
My fifth novel is called The Redhead, the Bookie, and the G-Man, my first excursion into pulp fiction. I have written a first draft. .
Where can your fans find out more about you?
At my website: http://www.Ron-Hutchison-Novels.com. It should be up and running by November.
Below is an excerpt from my YA novel Voices of the Locusts:
I glance down at the child stoking the hibachi coals. I don’t know if the child speaks English, but nonetheless I say, “You’ve built a good fire.”
A strong gust of wind whips away the scarf hiding the child’s face, and I forget about my frozen toes, the bitter taste in my mouth, and Jack London short stories. My stomach flutters. “Holy cow!” I whisper.
The child stoking the coals. It is not a child at all. It is a girl, a beautiful teenage girl.
I stand over the warm fire, spellbound by the graceful face before me. It is the most perfect face I have ever seen. Flawless skin the color of desert sand. Dark, almond-shaped eyes. And a nose so tiny that God must have added it as an afterthought. Her lips are full and the color of wild cherries. She stands less than five feet.
I stare at the perfect face. And for an instant, the perfect face stares back. Then her hand flies up, grabbing the flagging end of the scarf, and pulling it across her face.