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Local author inspires youth with new book release

June 04, 2014 - By Katie Winkler

Review Staff Writer

The past Saturday the Orion Township Public Library welcomed local author, Matt Faulkner, to launch his new children's book Caijin: American Prisoner of War. On top of signing books, Faulkner did a graphic drawing demonstration for teens and younger children.

"The book is about a thirteen year old boy named Caijin, who is half Japanese and half Irish-American. His dad is back in Japan and after Pearl Harbor Caijin gets a letter from the government saying that because he is part Japanese he will have to go to a concentration camp. Caijin's mother doesn't have to go because she is Irish American," Faulkner said. "His mother fights to make it so he didn't have to go to the camp and then that she would go with Caijin. The book is all about their odyssey and what happens to them."

Caijin is Faulkner's 37th book, but it is the first graphic novel he has completed. His inspiration came from his past experiences with concentration camps and how others viewed them.

"My great aunt and her daughter were put into one of these concentration camps during WWII. After 911, I started to hear people say that internment camps would be a good thing, I decided I had to write this story to show that they're not a good thing," Faulkner said.

Nine of the books in the past were written and illustrated by him, while the other 27 were just illustrated. Faulkner began drawing after he obtained his degree in graphic design from the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1985, his first picture book, The Amazing Voyage of Jackie Grace, was published. Faulkner's stories vary from historical fiction to myths and fairytales.

"One of the issues was that I was hired to illustrate books, so I saw all types of story ideas. A lot of the time, I don't see the stories that I want to tell, so I had to make myself a writer. I am not a writer, first and formost," Faulkner said. "I would send these ideas to editors and some would say they were terrible ideas but some would send manuscripts back with editing them so I could develop as a writer. Mostly, it's because I want to be able to tell stories too."

During Faulkner's visit to the library, he did a presentation with the children about how to draw and create books, much like his own. Following his presentation, Faulkner talked with teenagers there about their drawing goals and provided them with guidance they needed to get there.

Faulkner plans a new book to explore the women's suffrage movement.

His wife Chris, a librarian at the Orion library, is writing a children's book about a groundhog wanting to please everyone with a delayed winter and an early spring, which Faulkner will illustrate.

The library hopes to have him back after his next book is released to do another book-launch and signing.

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