I talked with Jamie in the bookstore last summer and really enjoyed hearing his success story. Jamie told me that he was assigned to Squaw Valley Community of Writers Staff Member Andrew Tonkovich for his one-on-one consultation. Andrew told him to quit his job and finish the manuscript! Jamie eventually did quit his job and published Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet in 2009.
In an interview published on the Random House website, Jamie talks about how a button worn by his father after the bombing of Pearl Harbor drew him into his initial research:
"It really started with the “I am Chinese” button, which my father mentioned wearing as a kid. There was a bit of an identity crisis in the International District in the wake of Pearl Harbor. Many Chinese families feared for their safety, especially as the FBI was rounding up prominent members of the Japanese community." Jaime's research inspired his short story, "I am Chinese," which was accepted for publication by Glimmer Train. Jaime wrote another short story, based on his research on the Wa Mei Massacre, which was a mass shooting in the mid- ’80s at a backroom casino in Seattle's Chinatown, where his grandfather once worked. He says, "I was paging through some old news articles and there was an unrelated mention of the Panama Hotel about the owner finding the belongings of all these Japanese families. When I wrote Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, I dug further into that story and eventually contacted the hotel owner and flew out to Seattle. It was amazing and humbling to see what still remains to this day in that dank, dusty basement."
Jaime didn't know it then, but his journey to a Seattle basement would lead him to a debut novel.
11 months ago