I've been a huge fan of Kristina McMorris for years, and I'm even more excited about her upcoming book SOLD ON A MONDAY, coming out this fall from our mutual publisher Sourcebooks! Kristina isn't just a savvy and talented writer, but one of the warmest and most generous personalities out there in the historical fiction writing community. Thrilled to share her interview for #WomensHistoryReads today. Enjoy!
Greer: Tell us about a woman (or group of women) from the past who has inspired your writing.
Kristina: When I initially set out to pen my first novel, Letters from Home, my only intention was to craft a story inspired by my grandparents' WWII courtship letters. What I didn't expect was, in the midst of researching, to also find inspiration in historical accounts from members of the Women's Army Corps (WAC). Often serving on the front lines, these brave veterans returned home to find themselves in a society largely resistant to change. In fact, many were urged to swap out their uniforms for traditional homemakers' aprons and never speak about their extraordinary service. Through my novel, I felt honored to help share their stories.
And years later, I felt the same while writing a novella that featured members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of WWII. Just like the WACs, their courage and incredible skill contributed heavily to the Allied victory, yet a great many years passed before the majority of these amazing women received the recognition they deserved.
Greer: How would you describe what you write?
Kristina: While technically my novels are considered historical fiction, I often joke that I view my books as "literary Advil." Meaning: hopefully the reader enjoys the sugarcoating of a story on the outside, not realizing how much "good stuff" (i.e. history) they're actually digesting along the way.
Greer: Love it! And finally, what’s your next book about and when will we see it?
Kristina: My next novel, Sold on a Monday, will be released on August 28th, and I can't wait to share it! Inspired by a shocking newspaper picture that haunted me for months, my Depression-era story features a young, ambitious reporter whose photo of two children being sold on a farmhouse porch leads to his big break—but has devastating consequences for everyone involved.
(Speaking of notable women in history, the great columnist Nellie Bly even serves as a powerful inspiration to one of my main characters in this story!)
Greer: Nellie Bly! We have that in common! She's glorious.
Kristina: And now, for you, my friend...
Each of your historical novels, including the forthcoming Woman Ninety-Nine, centers on a unique female character who breaks the traditional mold of her time by making daring choices. Of the three protagonists, with whom would you most prefer to: travel the world? be held as hostages together? switch lives for a year?
Greer: What a thrilling set of questions! The possibilities!
I suppose it makes sense to start with Arden from The Magician's Lie, who starts out her book tied to a chair with multiple pairs of handcuffs, locked in a room with an armed officer of the law with only her wits and her words to help her escape. So clearly she's the one I want to be hostages with because I think she'd have the best chance of getting us out! I'd travel the world with Kate Warne of Girl in Disguise, first female detective and downright brilliant woman, whose particular set of skills would help us settle in and befriend the locals anywhere and everywhere we went. Spies make good travel companions, right?
And I'd switch lives for a year with Charlotte Smith from Woman Ninety-Nine -- though at first it might seem odd that I'd want to include the period of time she spends trapped in a notorious insane asylum, where she risks her sanity, her future and her life in an attempt to rescue her beloved sister Phoebe from permanent commitment. Then again, her time in the asylum opens her eyes to broader possibilities for her life than she was ever exposed to during her pampered upbringing in 1880s San Francisco, and she finds the world inside the walls of Goldengrove isn't all bad. One of the ways I describe the book is as a 19th-century "Orange is the New Black" -- a group of women who don't fit society's mold, but band together in a fascinating society of their own making. I really enjoyed the time I spent with these characters while I was writing them. I can't wait for everyone to meet not just Charlotte and Phoebe, but spitfire Martha, canny operator Nora, damaged Celia, and the rest of the inmates of Goldengrove.
Want to know more about Kristina and her books? Of course you do! Here are a few links to get you started: