Who’s Up Wednesday: A Chat with Arizona Writer Ronny Herman de Jong

Who’s up Wednesday? Arizona Writer Ronny Herman de Jong

I’m all about commemoratives and remembrances:  commemorative events, anniversary dates, special milestones, dates that honor a way to remember those we’ve lost and those we have in our lives.  I love that we are given a special day or timeframe to remember an event that was meaningful in some way, and this is no exception.  Today, I’ve chosen to post this interview in August because Ronny de Jong is a survivor of the Japanese concentration camps during WW II in the Pacific.  August 15, 2013 (tomorrow) the world will commemorate the 68th anniversary of the Japanese surrender and the en20130814_091043d of the War.  I know you’ll enjoy this interview and finding out more about Ronny when you read her book “Rising From the Shadow of The Sun.”  Let’s get started!

Ronny, you have published two books. When did you actually start writing?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I wrote stories and essays, and I guess I followed the example of my mother, who wrote weekly letters about our life in the Dutch East Indies to her parents in the Netherlands. When I went to the Netherlands for my college education, I exchanged weekly letters with Mamma back in Indonesia.

When you were a little girl in the Japanese concentration camps, were you aware that your Mom kept a secret diary?
No, not at all. She must have written when we were asleep, so that we could not accidentally spill the beans to other inmates or to the Japanese soldiers. Writing, and having paper and pencil were strictly forbidden. They would have killed Mamma if they had found the diary.

Other than Dutch and English, what other languages did you learn, and did you write anything in those languages?
Bahasa Indonesia (Malay) was my second language because I grew up on the island of Java in the Dutch East Indies, a colony of the Netherlands. For my college education I needed two years of Greek and Latin, and in high school I learned English, French and German. My writing, however, is limited to Dutch and English. I love to translate and edit in those languages.

When did you write your first book and why did you write it?
I translated Mamma’s camp diary – which I received in 1985 after my grandparents had died – from Dutch into English for my children. Nobody in California, where I lived, knew anything about women’s camps in Southeast Asia during WW II, and so, after I had moved to Hawai’i, my first book came to be. In the Shadow of the Sun, published in Canada in 1992 was one of the first accounts in the English language in North America about women and children’s camps during World War Two in the Pacific.

Why did you write your second book and how is it different from the first?
When I moved back from Hawai’i to the mainland in 2001, I found that people here still don’t know much about the civilian camps in Southeast Asia, andafter some research, I discovered the in 2000 declassified Japanese War Crimes Files, part of the NARA Files. The Japanese were planning to systematically exterminate all prisoners in all camps starting in September of 1945! The bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were dropped only two weeks before the massacre would have begun. I had to share that with my readers. But also, looking at what I had achieved in my life after those gruesome years in captivity, I wanted to inspire younger generations with my example. So I wrote my memoir Rising from the Shadow of the Sun: A Story of Love, Survival and Joy.  

Will you write another book?
A fun, inspirational story for my grandchildren about their European family ties and two murder mysteries are embedded in my mind. If I live to be a centenarian, like my mother, I am sure I will accomplish all that. For now, promoting my new book is my first priority. I have to get that story out to the world! It is my mission in life.

Is there any special publicity we should know about?
Yes! My name is featured as a link on the largest, most visited website of POW research in the world, the website of the late RogerMansell.    (http://www.rogermansell.com/links.html).  My YouTube video is interesting to watch.  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01k6q9MvSpM&feature=youtu.be). And, I was recently interviewed by SBS (Special Broadcasting Service) in Australia for a radio show in June 2013.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers of a Memoir?                                                                                                                      Start with research and write, write, write whenever you have time. Editing comes later. Just write what comes to your mind.

Where is your book available?
Signed copies are available from the author’s website: http://www.ronnyhermandejong.com/.  Other purchase links are Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca, BarnesandNoble.com, Booklocker.com

Thanks, Ronny!  I look forward to more writing from you; be sure to keep me posted! (I’ve read this book, and I LOVED the way it was written.)

Are you a writer who would like to be featured on the “Who’s Up Wednesday” portion of my blog?  Email me, comment, or give me a call and we’ll set up a time to chat!  If you liked what you read here, be sure to check out other archives in my blog, subscribe so you receive updates, and share this post with your friends and fans. Thanks for stopping by!



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