I'm pleased to welcome Aimie K. Runyan to the blog today to talk about her inspirations, including the women of New France and Soviet pilots flying in all-female units, as well as when we can expect her next book. Aimie says she "write[s] to celebrate history's unsung heroines," which makes her a perfect interviewee for #WomensHistoryReads! Welcome, Aimie!
Greer: Tell us about a woman (or group of women) from the past who has inspired your writing.
Aimie: I began my first novel because of a group of women mentioned very briefly in a Canadian Civ class in grad school. It was a group of 770 women who were sent over under the auspices of Louis XIV to help boost the (very bachelor heavy) population of New France (modern day Quebec). The program was hugely successful, to the point where *two-thirds* of modern-day French Canadian ancestry can trace their lineage back to one or more of these women. I was astounded to learn the impact of this ten-year program, but these women are still dismissed as a footnote in history books. I thought their story deserved to be told, so I did. Since then, I’ve stumbled across numerous other groups of women who were similarly marginalized, so I have plenty of novels left to write, which is both wonderful and saddening.
Greer: How would you describe what you write?
Aimie: I write to celebrate history’s unsung heroines. I strive to be the missing chapters from our history books. When we learn about the World Wars, for example, women are often mentioned in cute little side notes. The women who went to work in factories to keep the country running. Who went back to the kitchen with a smile to make room for the returning war heroes. We don’t hear nearly enough about the women who served in the navy and marines even as early as the First World War. It’s far too comfortable to paint women as having support roles at the times of conflict in our history, and that simply has never been the case.
Greer: What's your next book about and when will we see it?
Aimie: My next book is called GIRLS ON THE LINE, and is the story of the American women who served as telephone operators in the US Army Signal Corps in World War One. The telephone was cutting edge technology at the time, and General Pershing knew that women were needed to run the phone system at maximum efficiency. 250 women served overseas, subject to all military protocols, but were told on return that the government was not going to recognize them veterans. It took a sixty-year legal battle to reverse that decision. It will be available from your favorite book sellers in early November, 2018, just in time for the 100th anniversary of the armistice of WWI.
Aimie: What drove you to focus on historical storytelling, rather than contemporary tales?
Greer: I mentioned this briefly in a previous interview, but I kind of accidentally ended up writing historical fiction with THE MAGICIAN'S LIE, since I wanted to set it at a time when it was unusual but not impossible for a woman to become famous and notorious as a stage magician. And then I just kept getting more and more ideas for historical novels. Partly because the deeper you get into research for one book, the more you stumble across stories that might inspire another. And I love that books about the past are never really just about the past. We can use these narratives to build resonance with our current world and gain insight into not just how far we've come, but how far we have yet to go.
Read more about Aimie and her books at aimiekrunyan.com.