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From Research to Resilience: Heather B. Moore's Journey into Historical Fiction
Norm Goldman --  BookPleasures.com Norm Goldman -- BookPleasures.com
Montreal, QC
Sunday, September 17, 2023


Bookpleasures.com is excited to have Heather B. Moore,author of Under the Java Moon, as our guest.

Heather is a prolific and versatile author, celebrated for her captivating storytelling across various genres. 

With over ninety publications to her name, she has earned the distinction of being a USA Today bestseller and has garnered many literary awards. 

Heather's writing prowess shines brightly in her historical fiction, where she skillfully explores ordinary individuals' profound humanity and heroism. 

Whether she's penning heartwarming romance, inspirational non-fiction, or spine-tingling thrillers, Heather's writing consistently delves deep into the hearts and souls of her characters, blending her passion for research with her gift for storytelling.

What sets Heather apart is her ability to wear different literary hats under different pen names. When crafting historical and thrillers, she goes by H.B. Moore, while her women's fiction, romance, and inspirational non-fiction grace the pages under her full name, Heather B. Moore. 

She dives into the world of speculative fiction under the pseudonym Jane Redd. Yet, despite her literary multitasking, Heather's kids refer to her as "Mom." 

Her academic journey has also been marked by determination, as she overcame early setbacks, including failing her high school AP English exam, to earn a Bachelor of Science degree from Brigham Young University.

Heather is a true literary polymath, collaborating with various publishing houses and platforms, including Thomas & Mercer, Kindle Press, and Shadow Mountain. 

Her work has transcended borders, with foreign publications in Germany and Norway showcasing her global appeal. 

Heather independently publishes her work through Mirror Press.

 Her literary journey is guided by the Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret Literary Agency, and she also shares her expertise by managing the editing company Precision Editing Group. 

With an impressive collection of literary accolades, including Whitney Awards, Rone Awards, and recognition as a Goodreads Choice Award Semi-Finalist, Heather is a true luminary in the world of literature. 

Welcome Heather and thanks for taking part in our interview.

Norm: The title of your most recent novel, Under the Java Moon, suggests a certain atmosphere. How does the setting and mood of the story contribute to the overall narrative?

Heather: The Java island setting truly becomes its own character in this WW2 story, with the heat and humidity, the topography, the food choices, the diseases, and the insects. 

The heat can be just as much of a foe as harsh winters in other locations, and the island atmosphere definitely influences the daily lives of characters.

Norm: What motivated you to write Under the Java Moon

Heather: I've been writing historical novels for many years, but this is the first time I've written a WW2 setting and been able to interview a survivor of an internment camp.

When my publisher contacted me about Marie (Rita) Vischer Elliott, I was interested but unsure of how the working relationship would go.

So I met Marie in person, and once she told me about her experiences on Java Island during WW2, I knew it was a story I wanted to write for her.

Norm: How much research did you do before writing the novel?

Heather: Finding research was a little bit tricky. I wasn't able to find any documentaries, films, or traditionally published books on the internment camps in Indonesia.

I found several self-published memoirs, which I bought and combed through. Since Marie was a young girl during the war with select memories, I wanted to find as much information to create a full-bodied story. 

I found memoirs written by people who had been in the same camp: Tjideng Camp, and others written about other camps throughout the archipelago.

I had a series of articles published by her father, George, who spent 5 days floating on the Java Sea, so those were immensely helpful. I spent about 3-4 weeks reading everything I could find, including articles and researching general information on the battles and timeline throughout the Pacific Rim. 

Norm: Under the Java Moon sheds light on a lesser-known part of WWII history. What aspects of this historical period in Indonesia and the experiences of the Dutch prisoners of war surprised you the most?

Heather: First, I did not know the Dutch were interned throughout the Indonesia islands, and I've read dozens of WW2 novels over the decades. 

I'd read A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute (which takes place in Malaya), and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (I re-read it for the feel of Zamperini's days at sea), but nothing about the Dutch POWs.

I was surprised to learn that the men were separated from the women and children. The men's camps comprised boys ages 11 and up, so when a boy grew older in the women's camps, he was separated from his family and transported out of the camp.

I also didn't know Japan had promised Indonesia (then called the Dutch East Indies) that they'd be granted independence from the Netherlands after the war. 

When that didn't happen, and Japan surrendered, groups of Indonesian rebels attacked Japanese guards and Dutch people after the war. 

This meant that the Dutch were instructed to remain inside the camps, and the Japanese guards were ordered to now protect the Dutch against the rebel groups. 

This was only the beginning of what's called the Bersiap period–a time of brutal violence all over the islands. And, it took months for ships to be available to get the Dutch and other Europeans out of the islands–to be repatriated back to Holland and other countries. 

In addition, I was surprised to learn that the Netherlands still didn't relinquish their colonization ruling over Indonesia until 1949, and that was because of pressure from other Allied countries.

Norm: Can you describe the impact of war on the local Indonesian population as portrayed in the book? How did their lives intersect with the Vischer family's story?

Heather: The answer is that it was very complicated. The Indonesians were an occupied people, but Japan promised they'd gain independence, eventually. Many Indonesians joined the Japanese army. 

The Dutch-Indonesians, or Indos, were caught in the middle. Descended from Dutch and Indonesian marriages, because of the decades of intermarriage from Dutch colonization, the Indos were given a choice.

 Live in the internment camps or serve the new Japanese regime. The local population lived on rations and reduced circumstances, and they were also expected to follow all rules set forth by Japanese commanders. 

Norm: Mary Vischer finds herself pregnant and alone in a women's camp. How does she cope with the harsh conditions and her responsibilities of her children and frail mother?

Heather: Rita (Marie) told me that her young brother Georgie was a very sweet-tempered child who was the glue of their family. Mary often said that he was "too good for this world." 

I'm sure the desire to protect her young children, as well as taking care of an aging mother, motivated Mary to do her best in keeping everyone healthy and alive. 

She was a caretaker by nature and was checking on others throughout the camp and helping where she could. She also had several dreams about the end of the war, and so maybe she held onto hope that freedom would eventually come.

Norm: Rita Vischer was just six years old when her family was forced to move to a POW camp. What challenges did she face as a child in a war-torn environment, and how did she cope with them?

Heather: I actually tried to talk Rita into letting me age her up in the book to maybe 10 or 11 years old, but she insisted t that at 5 and 6 years old, she was very smart. "War ages children," she told me.

The biggest thing she remembers is the hunger and when her mother caught her eating dirt. Rations got so low that she only had a spoonful of rice each day. 

Even today, she doesn't waste any food. She comes home, takes out the perishables, and that's what she'll prepare a meal from. 

Rita had her mother and two little brothers (Robbie was born in camp) to watch out for, including her grandmother. She still did childish antics and remembers jumping on a metal grate that made a booming sound. 

No one told her to be quiet. After the war, she was stripped of any self confidence, and went through a period of being bullied in high school (South Africa) and having no friends. 

Norm: What do you think were the key factors that enabled the Vischer family to survive the hardships they faced during this tumultuous period in history?

Heather: I think Mary had the hope of seeing her husband alive again, and wanting all of her children with her, alive and well. 

This seemed to be a driving force for both Mary and George, since they were separated for over three years. Hope of freedom and a better future and seeing loved ones kept her going just one day more.

Norm: What do you hope readers take away from your book, and what do you want them to feel after finishing it?

Heather: Hope and the strength of the human spirit are the big takeaways. While writing this story, I felt more resilient myself when facing personal challenges. 

I think it's also imperative to understand history so that we don't repeat the atrocities of the past, as well as honoring those who have paid the dearest price for our freedoms. 

Norm: What are you currently working on, and what can readers expect from you in the future?

Heather: I'm working on another WW2 novel. 

This one is about the aviator Nancy Harkness Love, who founded the WAFS (Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron), which eventually became the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) organization, and comprised US female pilots. 

These women trained on and flew the WW2 bombers coming off the manufacturing floor and delivered them to air bases around the country. 

Nancy Love was the first woman to fly bombers such as the P-51 Mustang. The service of the WASPs saved thousands of hours and enabled the male pilots to fly combat overseas.

Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and Under the Java Moon?


FACEBOOK PAGE for the book








Retailers can be found at MY PUBLISHER'S WEBSITE

Norm: As we wind up this interview, what is the most challenging aspect of writing for you, and how do you overcome those challenges?

Heather: Narrowing down the project is always challenging. Will the story cover a year? 10 years? Choosing the scenes I'll write, what will keep the story moving, yet pay tribute to the history I'm writing about, is also a balancing act. Thank you so much,

Norm. I appreciate your time and your questions!  Thanks once again and good luck with all of your endeavors.


 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Norm Goldman
Title: Book Reviewer
Group: bookpleasures.com
Dateline: Montreal, QC Canada
Direct Phone: 514-486-8018
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