Thursday, February 11, 2021

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back Gail Kittleson

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back, Gail Kittleson

Linda: Thanks for joining me today. You’ve published a memoir, several WWII novels, two non-fiction books about WWII, and most recently, co-authored a biography. Your upcoming release is a “pioneer story.” Can you tell us a bit about the book and what drew you to writing about this time period?
Gail: About twelve years ago, I experienced some dangerous consequences from chronic sinus infections every winter in Iowa. After trying many solutions, our local doctor suggested, “You have one alternative left—try altitude.” 
So while my husband was deployed to Iraq, I did, and discovered that the altitude of the Arizona
mountains brought relief. That’s a complicated beginning to what motivated me to write about a young woman named Abby. She traveled from Missouri to Arizona Territory’s Mogollon Rim Country 170 years ago. 
This is still rugged hardscrabble terrain settled by equally rugged folk. The Civil War era, when great population shifts took place, seemed the ideal backdrop for the story that developed. 
LM: Research is an important part of writing, especially historical fiction. How did you go about your research, and was your process different from that of your other books? Did you find a particularly intriguing fact you included in your story? 

Gail: This research seemed more difficult. I’m not sure why, because I used many of the same methods…visiting local museums, interviewing descendants of early pioneers, reading texts about life in the mid-1800’s, and studying Civil War battles that would fit into the plot. Maybe it’s that I had a better understanding of the timeline for World War II than for this one. 

LM: How different do you find the people of the “pioneer era” to those of the World War II era? The same? 

Gail: Such a good question. My heroine suffers almost unbearable loss at a young age, and reacts much as a young woman might have during World War II. Grief affects people throughout the ages, but now we have support groups, counselors, etc. 
My WWII characters did not enjoy these resources, and the losses that were thrown at them had to mount up. But back in the 1860’s, even fewer helps were available in Abby’s isolated situation. 
Men and women also respond differently to grief and loss, and unresolved grief can multiply the consequences we suffer. I think Abby’s sex, the suddenness of her bereavement, and the difficulty of resolution make her story unique. At that time, many chose the option of “going west” and starting over. But what a host of dangers they faced!
LM: Your story is set in Arizona. Did you choose that location for a specific reason? Have you had the opportunity to visit the area where you set your story? 
Gail: Yes, this is where I spend time in the winters. Meeting one of the men who helped excavate this area solidified the setting, because he said that the workers found a Native American grindstone right under the spot where our house is built. (Of course, they made off with it, but sometimes we still find pottery shards in our front yard.) 

LM: How did you go about creating your main characters? (e.g., do you determine their names first? Occupation? Etc.) 

Gail: The name usually occurs to me first. Their occupation develops as I study the time and locale. 
LM: What is one thing you wish you knew how to do? 

Gail: I’d like to be able to dance really well. Love watching people who waltz so beautifully and
jitterbug, etc. 

LM: What is one piece of advice you’d like to offer to fledgling writers? 

Gail: Determination is a key element in this career. As Churchill said, “Never give up.” 
LM: What is your next project? 

Gail: Hmm…I’ll probably take another look at a WWII novella I wrote last year, and a short story, both WWII, and each with a Christmas theme. 
LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 

Twitter: @GailGkittleson 
Instagram: @gailkittlesonauthor

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