Gail, glad to have you join us. Where do you get your inspiration for your books?
Today we are joined by Gail Kittleson. Gail is graciously offering to giveaway one copy of her new book With Each New Dawn to a commenter. Please be sure to leave contact information.
I’ve thought a lot about this question. Where do our ideas originate? Many say from the Muse ... others call this “partnering with God.” Pablo Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” I recall a time when I wanted to write, but didn’t know what to write about. Write what you know went through my mind, but at that time, I felt like an expert on nothing.
Inspiration came to me through a writing retreat, which increased my confidence that I could write and led to my memoir. Still, I had no intentions of writing fiction. But as I worked through many of the creative exercises in The Artist’s Way(Julia Cameron), characters started coming to mind. The best way I can describe what happened then is that I paused to listen.
For some, plot arrives first, but for me, it’s always a character. From there, it’s a matter of continuing to listen and researching voraciously as the story unfolds.
What's your key environment that helps you get to writing? Do you have a writer’s nook, corner, getaway? Where do you do your most productive writing?
I do have a nook just large enough to hold my old teacher’s desk, bookshelves, and a trunk with lots of research materials. This space used to be a closed-in but falling-apart porch on the front corner of our house, built in 1873. When we bought and renovated, we winterized it and cut a door into the dining room from a former window.
In winter, it’s too cold to write in there—Iowa, no heat duct. But in summer and autumn, I enjoy creating in this sunny space.
I’m not sure where I’m most productive. I do know that ideas often come to me on long walks—that was true long before I began writing seriously.
What are you saying in your book(s) that will encourage Christians today?
Addie and Kate, heroines of my Women of the Heartland series, reveal that there’s no shame in asking honest question. The process enriches our lives. World War II increased their questions, but always, the two of them had analyzed people, situations, and themselves. Their high school literature teacher nurtured their inquisitive natures before the war swept in.
Separated by the Atlantic Ocean, they still shared their thoughts in letters, and when reunited, they continued to cherish each other’s perceptions. They tell my readers that answers often arrive in friendly garb—through the sincere attention of a friend.
In With Each New Dawn, danger threatens Kate from the vicious Waffen S.S, a brutal Nazi arm. No pat answers will do. A new friendship and borrowed faith sustains her. She tells readers that even in the worst of times, eternal light still shines.
How do you pick names for your characters?
Mostly, I choose names I like, but also check through lists of popular names from the era.
How important are reviews to you?
Knowing someone has taken the time to read my novel and made the additional effort to post a review means a lot. I’ve met (mostly online) some folks who do this for many authors, and see it as their ministry. This goes along with the theme I’ve been referring to, friendship’s power.
In these days of individualism and isolation, isn’t it something that total strangers would generously help promote an author’s work?
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Jane Kirkpatrick’s work has mentored mine—when I read All Together In One Place, I knew she’d touched a nerve. At that time, I hadn’t yet honed in on my genre, and reading her books helped me. I also like classical writers like Louisa May Alcott, R.W. Emerson (nonfiction), and historians such as Ken Burns.
Back to Jane Kirkpatrick ... another time, her heroine gave me the exact answer I needed to a thorny, continuous relational challenge. There it was, in black and white just like that. I think that’s because she has the courage to tackle tough subjects from a foundation of faith. What a gift! I haven’t met Jane, but receive her newsletter and hope to hug her some day.
What genre is your favorite?
Women’s historical fiction is my favorite, and I also enjoy literary fiction. I think fans of literary fiction have diminished with the “quick entertainment” our society avails, but sinking into an old-fashioned literary novel still gives me special satisfaction.
What books have you enjoyed lately?
After Dunkirk, by Melena McGraw, has increased my understanding of the first years of World War II. And I’ve also read an obscure memoir by a Navy officer—not something you’ll find on the NY or Romantic Times Lists. As with many other areas of life, I resist reading what everyone else says I need to—I might read those books sometime, but only after some thought.