Today I welcome Gail Kittleson to Jubilee Writer. I love hearing how other novelists got there start. Especially those who are in their jubilee years like me. Let’s get started.
Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.
To be honest, uphill and haphazard describe the first decades of my writing journey. Without the self-confidence or sense of direction to apply myself to writing full-time, my journey barely existed at times. And yet, when I tried, I did experience some success—a few poems published in magazines, some short non-fiction books for current-issues classes, and a few professional teaching articles … even a co-written workbook for ESL learners.
But sporadic success wasn’t enough to motivate me to faithful attendance at my computer. About 15 years ago, I participated in a university writing retreat, and my journey’s adjectives switched. Now, determined and exciting are more accurate.
Somewhere along the way—maybe about a year ago, I finally became comfortable calling myself an author. Before that, it seemed too audacious to believe I really AM living my lifelong dream.
What is your latest published project.
With Each New Dawn, my third WWII novel, and the second in the Women of The Heartland series, took me deep into the heart of London during the relentless Nazi attacks. Researching this era parallels attempts to totally understand ourselves and the people around us—an endless saga. Click here to buy.
How do you research for your books?
It’s a good thing I thrive on seeking information and connecting the dots. That’s what my research entails—studying timelines of the war and figuring out where certain situations or battles fit into my characters’ lives. First, I read textbooks. I’m quite old-fashioned about this, and a textbook account far outshines anything I find online. But if I do discover some tidbit online, it’s so fun to read more about it.
I also enjoy speaking with individuals who experienced the war. They’re becoming rare these days, but recently I met a woman who actually worked in her local rationing office. Talk about thrilling … somebody else in the group ran home to get their stash of little red “coins” given out as change when a rationing coupon was worth more than the purchased item.
And then another individual said, “I’ll be right back.” She returned with one of the missiles manufactured in a nearby factory. This, I’d say, is the most delightful type of research!
What inspired you to write With Each New Dawn?
The steadfast attitudes and actions of the Greatest Generation inspired me to write this book. People made-do with what was handed them, and that happened to be a very nasty war. They sacrificed time, talents, finances, and their husbands, sons, and daughters for the war effort. I focus on how women contributed, in a vast amount of roles. I don’t necessarily choose the most glamorous or exciting jobs—for example, one of my heroines works hard on the family farm, one becomes a grease monkey in her father’s shop when her brother is drafted, and one works at the Hormel plant, making SPAM for the troops.
Nothing glamorous about any of those jobs, but they’re taken straight from everyday women’s lives.
When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?
This vocation came to me in adolescence, as clear as could be. If I could go back in time and give advice to that fearful girl, I’d say, “Use your gift—whatever it takes, use it!” Not that I didn’t want to use it—I did, passionately. But my fears blocked me for many, many years.
What is your favorite genre to read for fun?
Believe it or not, I read WWII fiction for fun. Let’s just say I have a one-track mind, and I can’t get enough of learning about the Greatest Generation. Right now I have two books going, and one I’m about to start. This never gets old!
So many verses have instructed me throughout life, but the poignant promise in Isaiah 63:9 has touched me over and over. In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.
Our Creator doesn’t just stand by when we’re distressed—he embraces our troubles. My heroine in With Each New Dawn discovers more about this very present God during her worst times.
A late, bloomer, Gail Kittleson writes from her northern Iowa home. After instructing English as a Second Language and expository writing, she published a memoir, and now focuses on women’s historical fiction. She also facilitates writing workshops/retreats.
She and her husband enjoy their grandchildren and in winter, Arizona’s Mogollon Rim Country. You can count on Gail’s heroines to ask honest questions, act with integrity, grow in faith, and face hardships with spunk.
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What fun finding out about Gail.
Readers, leave in the comments what was the most interesting or inspiring thing you read.