Too po­lite to turn down US navy.. but it helped me launch a fan­tas­tic new chap­ter in my life

Au­thor on how she took up writ­ing at desert base

Sunday Mail (UK) - - Mailbox - Jenny Mor­ri­son

When Akemi Dawn Bow­man was asked to join the US navy, she was too po­lite to say no.

Three years later, she found her­self work ing in survei l lance whi le sta­tioned at a busy mil­i­tary base in the dusty deserts of Qatar.

As both US and UK mil­i­tary planes left the base on dan­ger­ous mis­sions, she needed a men­tal escape from the haz­ardous ca­reer she had fallen into – so she took up writ­ing.

Eleven years on, she lives in the small sea­side vil­lage of Hope­man, near El­gin, Mo­ray, with a Bri­tish for­mer air­man and is cel­e­brat­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of her third novel.

She owes much of her suc­cess to her un­ex­pected mil­i­tary ca­reer.

Akemi, 32, who grew up in Las Ve­gas, said: “Grow­ing up, I had so many ideas about what I hoped to be, in­clud­ing an ar­chae­ol­o­gist work­ing in Egypt or maybe an artist.

“I was ap­ply­ing to go to col­lege and I can only guess that, when you filled out all the dif­fer­ent ca­reers forms at that time, your de­tails were passed on to mil­i­tary re­cruiters too.

“A re­cruiter from the navy called my house and asked if I’d like to find out more about join­ing the mil­i­tary and go and talk to him.

“At the time, I had pretty bad so­cial anx­i­ety and just didn’t know how to say no.

“Be­cause of the anx­i­ety, I went to see him and ended up join­ing the US navy, which it had never been a wish of mine to do.

“Straight away, it gave me a bit of fi­nan­cial in­de­pen­dence and it meant I got free health care, which in Amer­ica is a big thing.

“Long-term, it led to me meet­ing the man who is now my hus­band. It was also while sta­tioned abroad – and very much in need of a men­tal dis­trac­tion – that I started to write.”

On join­ing the navy, Akemi was sent to Oak Har­bor Naval Base, on a small is­land off Washington State. She was trained to work as part of the navy’s IT team and spent time work­ing in Ja­pan.

In 2008, she was de­ployed with a squadron be­ing sent to Qatar. While she can’t give de­tails of the spe­cific work she was in­volved in, she does ad­mit that her squadron was in­volved in sur­veil­lance op­er­a­tions. She said: “There was a lot go­ing on in that part of the world.

“Our hangar was a shared hangar, made up of both US and UK mil­i­tary, and in the mid­dle of the desert. “The planes wou ld go off wher­ever they were go­ing and I would re­main in what was an air-con­di­tioned com­puter suite.”

As a young child, Akemi had al­ways en­joyed mak­ing up sto­ries but had stopped writ­ing as a re­sult of suf­fer­ing from depression and anx­i­ety. She said: “I fell back in love with it while sta­tioned in Qatar.

“Wr it­ing be­came my cop­ing mech­a­nism and I found it ther­a­peu­tic. It kept the black clouds away.

“I started work­ing on my first novel – a fan­tasy book about magic and fairies and en­chanted dolls, where I could ex­press my­sel f through its char­ac­ters and find the strength to say how I felt.”

As Akemi was reach­ing the end of her de­ploy­ment in Qatar, she met her now hus­band Ross, a me­chanic with the RAF.

When Akemi left the US navy two years later, she moved straight to Scot­land to be close to Ross, who by this time was sta­tioned at RAF Lossiemout­h in Mo­ray.

The cou­ple mar­ried in 2012, Ross left the RAF and they now have two children – daugh­ter Shaine, five, and son Oliver, three.

Akemi now works full-time as an au­thor, spe­cial­is­ing in young adult fic­tion.

Her first novel , Starf ish, was short­listed for the Wil­liam C Mor­ris

De­but Award, whi le her sec­ond book, Sum­mer Blue Bird, was one of Buz­zfeed’s “Top Queer” YA books of 2018.

Her third book, Har­ley in the Sky, has just been pub­lished by Ink Road, part of Black and White Pub­lish­ing. It ex­plores themes of iden­tity, men­tal health and fam­ily.

The book tells the story of a girl whose fam­ily run a fa­mous cir­cus in Las Ve­gas. Af­ter a huge fight with her par­ents, she leaves home, be­trays her fam­ily and joins a ri­val trav­el­ling cir­cus.

Akemi ’s own fam­ily left China sev­eral gen­er­a­tions ago and moved to Hawaii to escape com­mu­nism.

She said: “I’m proud of my AsianAmer­i­can back­ground.

“I grew up in Las Ve­gas, which couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent to the for­mer fish­ing vil­lage where I live now.

“Ev­ery­thing here isn’t open 24 hours a day. In fact, most places are closed by 5pm. There are no huge casi­nos or strip clubs but I don’t miss the bright lights.

“I’m very happy liv­ing where I now live and do­ing what I do.”

I found writ­ing so ther­a­peu­tic. It kept the black clouds away

and her OUT Akemi FUN DAY with their children hus­band Ross Akemi DE­VOTED they and Ross when navy were in US in and RAF. Right, near El­gin Hope­man, Peter Jolly Main pic

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