1. On the title of the book:
1R. A long time ago in China, there were three Books of Peace, all lost, probably in library fires. At changes of regimes, the Chinese destroy the former culture. I searched all over the world for those three lost Books of Peace, and when I found no trace of them, I set to work writing one for our time. I'd been working for two years when the Oakland- Berkeley Hills fire destroyed my book, which I called The Fourth Book of Peace. To have that book of peace destroyed in a fire, like its ancestors, I thought I must have been on to something cosmic. I am so relieved that The Fifth Book of Peace is out of my hands and out of the house, untouched by fire.
2. On getting back to writing after the loss of her house to a fire:
2R. My garret writing room had burned. I took that as a sign that perhaps I ought not to go on in the tradition of the solitary writer. I decided to gather a community of writers around me. I sent out a call for war veterans to come write with me; we would tell one another our stories.
3. On how her Book of Peace has changed since the loss of the original manuscript:
3R. The book before the fire was fiction, the story of Wittman Ah Sing finding a decent way to live during the war in Viet Nam […] When this writing was burned in the fire, I lost the desire to write fiction. I could not care for make-believe characters anymore. So I spent the next few years expressing my own feelings and thoughts, and writing about real people.
4. On her brothers’ fighting in Vietnam and her involvement in peace movements:
4R. At our current peace demonstrations, I see parents and spouses of troops calling for peace… I wholeheartedly support our troops—that they neither kill nor be killed, that they come safely home. That they not be sent off and put in harm’s way in the first place.
5. On the process of building peace:
5R. I was surprised to discover how much one small person such as myself can do—and how happy I was. I am coming up with a new rule for living: Only do things that make you happy, and you will create the peaceful world.