My View of the World

Image from

Our Friday Fox asked, “How have moves or other locales affected your writing?”

As you might expect, any life experience is going to color an author’s writing. But when I sat down to write this post, my first thought was that I’ve never really moved anywhere, except when I went to college. My present home is less than ten miles away from the house in which I grew up. But then I realized that I DID make one major move.

My uncle’s garden in Chigasaki, Japan. August, 2010

When I was less than a year old, my family moved from Japan to the United States. After the Korean War, Dad stayed in Japan and worked at the Exchange Office in Yokohama, and Mom was a clerk. They married, and I was born in the army base hospital at Camp Zama. When Dad’s visa ran out, he brought his family to his home in Michigan. I don’t remember much of the trip, since I was only eleven months old when we traveled (by boat, since there were no trans-Pacific flights at the time). But Mom has often told me stories about the adjustments we had to make, learning a new language and fitting into a new culture. How did that move affect my writing? I believe it made me aware of how one’s culture affects the way we interact with the world and other people. When I was young, there was still some distrust of Asian people, even though World War II ended ten years before I was born. We were taught that our behavior reflected not only our own character, but that of our family and all Japanese-Americans. Honor was of utmost importance, and that credo was the theme of my first full-length novel The Samurai’s Garden.

The Eiffel Tower, July 2012

I guess all that time seeing pictures and hearing about how things on the other side of the world were done differently made me more curious and understanding of other cultures, which in turn led me to loving to travel and experience all that I can. While I was in high school, I earned a spot in the American Youth Symphony. We traveled to seven different countries in Europe. Many years later I re-visited some of those places as well as some new ones with my daughters, who both love to travel. Once I retired from full-time teaching, I indulged myself even more. I was also fortunate enough to travel back to Japan twice to visit my many relatives there. Those experiences and the people (along with their beliefs and customs) tend to show up in some of my stories such as Aegean Intrigue (set in Greece) as well as my regency romances.

Peru, IL, July 2020. Photo from Kevin Nelson.

After high school, I attended a university two states away, in the middle of the Illinois corn fields. Having grown up in a suburb of the second largest city in Michigan, it was a bit of culture shock to look out my dorm window (I lived on the 23rd floor – dorms were built tall to take up less of the valuable farmland) and see miles and miles of cornfields. (Note: A recent visit to Normal, IL showed me that the city has grown larger and the fields are probably no longer visible from the dorm!) And it was quite an experience to wake up to sounds and smells that I’d only heard about in my suburban home. But I made lots of good friends who taught me about farm life, and that helped me create the rural setting in The Road to Escape

So even though my address hasn’t altered much during my time on earth, I think the experiences I’ve gained through travel have helped to give my writing more depth, and hopefully more compassion.


About Patricia Kiyono

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her five children, nine grandchildren (so far), and great-granddaughters. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures. Check out her sweet historical contemporary romances at her Amazon author page:
This entry was posted in experiences, Patricia Kiyono, Travel, writing, writing from experiences. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to My View of the World

  1. I never asked, but wondered about your father’s being in the US military. People who emigrate or the family of them, really have a different view of the world. My mother was born in the U.S., but her parents, half-brothers, and oldest sister,(plus other assorted cousins who came also), were born in Northern Italy, and Italian was her first language. We do have a completely different experience, a different outlook than peoples whose families were well-established here, or sometimes just a couple of generations away. (The Husband, who thought the people in “Avalon” were odd, but I told him that basically, those were like MY family Thankgivings, and that if he had been with his grandmother and great-aunt for the holidays, he’d hear the same stories and hear the same arguments!)
    All I can say is that I am glad that your family came, and they did a good job with you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Aww, thanks Tonette! I think this mindset is common with Asian Americans, though. I didn’t know many growing up, because we were the ONLY family in our area, but my cousin connected me with a Facebook group of Japanese Americans, and this seems to be a common thread.


  2. Jeff Salter says:

    I definitely agree that travel is not only enlightening and educational, but an essential part of learning about the “rest of the world” — outside of our own backyards.
    Though I’ve lived in 8 states plus Greenland, I was mostly raised in a small town in southeast Louisiana. I went to school with a lot of kids who’d hardly ever left that Parish (county). Whereas, by the time I graduated HS, I’d already lived in MS, IL, GA, LA, & IA and traveled to most of the southwest and southeast states.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I’ve met and worked with many people who have never been out of Michigan, and it definitely has an effect on their view of the world. Often it’s an “Us versus Them” attitude, which is disturbing to me. These are probably descendants of the people who taunted my family in the years during and following WWII.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can definitely relate to your last statement, Patricia. My homes have been in 6 states throughout my life. And having visited all but 6 states in the U.S., plus visiting Canada and Mexico, the experiences I had and the things I saw while traveling have found there way into every story I’ve written. It’s truly a blessing to have the memories. Hopefully, my readers have longed to see the places I’ve used as my settings because of the authenticity of the descriptions and the memories I’ve shared.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I agree, we are truly blessed to live in a time when travel is easier than our ancestors could have dreamed. And yes, the memories are to be cherished. Having been somewhere makes it much easier to describe in our writing. Thanks so much for weighing in!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I’m like you. Most of my life has been spent in the same neighborhood, but the travel I did do has made a difference I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I find your travels fascinating. I can imagine the shock of suddenly being surrounded by cornfields. Probably much what I felt when I was suddenly in a city. I grew to enjoy it but it certainly wasn’t where I wanted to be or where I felt most comfortable.

    Liked by 1 person

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