Welcome Back, Author Gail Kittleson
Linda: Thanks for joining me today. Let’s chat a bit about your latest release Until Then, which is book 5 in your Women of the Heartland series. Part of your story takes place in North Africa, an area of WWII that’s not often covered. What was your inspiration for the story?
Gail: On Pinterest, where I post WWII photos and information, a certain woman kept re-pinning my pictures, so I contacted her. Her mother Dorothy was a nurse with the WWII Army Nurse Corps and worked with the Eleventh Evacuation Hospital all across North Africa, through Sicily, up the boot of Italy, north through France and into Belgium and Germany.
The more I heard about her service, the more the story pulled me in, and then I visited Dorothy’s home. She had died in 2015 at age 98, but left an incredible legacy. Her house was just as she left it, and overflowing with memorabilia and reports from the war.
At the same time, another war story from the East End of London captured me—the worst civilian tragedy of the entire war. This occurred on the stairs of an entrance to the tube station in Bethnal Greene and involved a crush, with many innocent people suffocating.
A photo of the mass grave gripped me so intensely—on one side were various clergymen and on the other the mourners. It struck me that during these awful times, it was the constables and the clergy who held communities together.
Could I integrate these two stories? It seemed like quite a challenge, but I put my heart to it, and Until Then resulted.
LM: What draws you to the World War II era?
Gail: There’s no one simple answer to this question. It’s something about the never-ending stories that keep emerging from the lives of people who experienced this era. And something about their character, too. Their make-do attitudes and determination to thwart oppression and evil intrigue me. And then, there’s the fact that I’m a baby-boomer who grew up in the long shadows this war cast over people love after it was over.
LM: In addition to writing, you are also a speaker and writing coach. How do you balance the two aspects of your career?
Gail: It’s easy. I spend so much time researching and writing in solitude that the old teacher in me gets hungry for interaction. I miss instructing college writing courses, and facilitating workshops/giving book talks fills that need. I always wanted to be a cheerleader, but wasn’t voted in, so encouraging others is a welcome treat.
LM: What is one piece of advice you can give to fledgling writers?
Gail: Sometimes finding our niche can be difficult. It surely was for me. Consider which genre syncs with your comfort zone—it may be the one calling you.
LM: What is one thing you wish you knew how to do?
Gail: I’d like to be a skilled knitter. For some reason, my attempts to learn have not succeeded.
LM: Here are some quickies:
Tea or Coffee: Tea (I’m an Englishwoman in disguise.)
Walking or riding a bike: walking (although riding bike was great when I was younger.)
Ocean or lake for vacation: Either one, if there’s a mountain within sight. So that would probably be a lake. We spend several weeks in Mogollon Rim country in Arizona in the winter. I feel better there because of the altitude and have always loved mountain majesty.
LM: What is your next project?
Gail: I’m working on a Texas WWII story. So much to learn about the unique goings-on there, and how that state contributed to the war effort! Thanks for having me visit, Linda.
LM: Where can folks find you on the web?
Website/blog: http://www.gailkittleson.com/ (Please subscribe)
Amazon page: http://amazon.com/author/gailkittleson (Please LIKE)
Twitter: www.twitter.com/GailGkittleson or @GailGkittleson
Instagram: @gailkittlesonauthor (Instagram) (Please FOLLOW)
About Until Then:
March 3, 1943, Bethnal Green, London's East End
Shortly after a quarter past eight, a siren split the air. Marian Williams lifted her sleeping daughter from her bed and darted down the stairs. Her mother and father-in-law, off on air warden duty, had left the front door unlocked.
She hugged her youngest child close. The blackout made the going difficult, but her husband's instructions echoed in her brain: "Whatever you do, get down inside the station as fast as you can."
She hoped for a spot near the canteen, with access to milk. Uneven light shone over the paved streets. Then she tripped. Her knee hit the concrete, then something bashed her left side. Someone cried out. Another blow scraped her arm on the landing floor. Where was her baby? She attempted to get up, but an even heavier weight slammed her face down. A crushing burden descended, then all went black.
Riding the backs of Army trucks across North Africa, throughout the Sicily campaign, up the boot of Italy, and northward through France into Germany, Dorothy Woebbeking served as a surgical nurse with the 11th Evacuation Hospital.
During World War II, US Army nurses worked and slept in tents through horrific weather, endured enemy fire, and even the disdain of their own superior officers, who believed women had no place in war. But Dorothy and her comrades persevered, and their skills and upbeat attitude made a huge different in the lives of thousands of wounded soldiers.
Dorothy and Marian's stories converge on a simple, hand-stitched handkerchief.
Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2Mx4OLV