Inspired by Real Life

The Unquiet Heartby Juliet McCarthy, author of The Unquiet Heart.

Writers often enjoy doing research as much as they enjoy actually writing their novel. I know I do. As an amateur historian, I can get lost in dusty tomes searching for some archaic custom or obscure detail.

That being said, in writing The Unquiet Heart I was able to evoke wonderful memories of people I knew and places I visited while living in Japan. Our family spent three delightful years on Misawa Air Base, courtesy of the United States Air Force, where my husband was a fighter pilot in the Panther squadron. There were no women pilots in the squadron at that time, just to set the record straight. But I have had the occasion to befriend some of these intrepid aviators one of whom continued to fly fighters while breast feeding her newborn son.

Male fighter pilots need little embellishment by the author to transform them into romantic heroes. By virtue of their profession, they cut a larger than life figure in the public imagination. They exude confidence, courage and excitement—a heady brew to susceptible female hearts.

While at Misawa I had the opportunity to teach English conversation to a group of local Japanese English teachers. One of the highlights of our tour was the Saturday afternoons I spent with those gracious men and women exploring the social customs of our respective countries. The arranged marriage was a custom of particular interest to me—as the mother of five children. I thought it was a great idea! Of course my children did not share my enthusiasm.

My family and I had the pleasure of visiting all the locations described in the book at one time or another: the Ice Festival in Hakkido, the Cherry Blossom Festival in Hirosaki, the haunted landscape of Mount Ozori-san. My husband and I even ventured out to a “love hotel.” Strictly for research, of course. So I hope that experience lends veracity to the story. My husband, an F-16 pilot, was my technical advisor.

It was my love for Japan and my admiration for the people, as well as my affection and esteem for the men and women in the military that inspired me to write Libby and Kojiro’s love story in The Unquiet Heart. What places have inspired you to write or to dream?