Living Our Past – Author Spotlight with Kate Breslin ( + Giveaway )
Posted by historythrutheages
Today I’m happy to welcome author Kate Breslin as she shares about her latest release, Far Side of the Sea. Read through to the end to find out how you can enter to win the giveaway.
“Up close and personal” is a commonly used phrase and one very meaningful for me while writing my latest historical novel, Far Side of the Sea. As with my previous novels, Not By Sight and High As The Heavens, I spent years researching the first world war. I’d memorized dates and places names of battles fought and read first-hand accounts of the soldiers living in trenches on the Western Front, facing “No Man’s Land”—stretches of battlefield so devastated by artillery that only cratered holes of soupy mud remained to serve as watery graves. Skirmishes fought, which resulted in short-won victories and losses for both sides and in the middle, civilians, enduring four years of suffering all of the hardships war has to offer and the occasional miracles that marked their incredible lives.
It was during the research for my most recent novel that my mom asked me to do some genealogical digging into the life of my great-uncle George. She’d come to possess her uncle’s Purple Heart medal after his brother—her father, my grandfather—had passed away and knew he’d served in WWI somewhere in the infantry.
With writing deadlines, I admit to working on her request at a snail’s pace, but eventually through information I found online, I discovered he’d served in the Wisconsin National Guard in 1916 and was sent to the Mexican border that same year to defend against the famous revolutionary Pancho Villa and his men, who had stormed Columbus, New Mexico, killing nearly twenty Americans. A year later the US entered WWI in April of 1917 and the president recalled the guardsmen, transferring their ranks to the infantry. Now I was getting really interested! I decided to contact the Wisconsin Veterans Museum and was excited to learn they would send me copies of whatever service records they could find for George. When their packet arrived weeks later, I tore into it and began poring over the contents. I’d practically lived in WWI over the past few years, so to be able to recognize the places my great-uncle had fought, some which I’d written for my own fictional story character—became a personal experience for me that brought me to tears. He’d been wounded during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive near Verdun, the place of a famous battle and one which earned him the Purple Heart. I was also grateful to learn he’d survived the war to return home and live to a ripe old age, as many others were not so fortunate.
Needless to say, my mom was delighted with the information and she’s allowed me to be the steward of my great-uncle’s medal, which now sits in a place of honor. It reminds me that we are all connected to the past; and sometimes, those places and times we read about in history can leave a very personal imprint on us. Another reason why I enjoy writing in this genre.
What genre(s) do you write in and why? I chose to write historical romance because I’ve always enjoyed reading love stories set in the days of knights and kings and swashbuckling pirates. My desire to write wartime fiction in particular came with the creation of my first published novel, For Such A Time, a retelling of the Biblical Book of Esther set in WWII. During my research I was inspired reading about ordinary people who in crisis did the extraordinary, even risking their lives to save others. With my subsequent novels, including my latest, Far Side of the Sea, I’ve explored the history of the Great War from 1914-1918, a part of our past just now coming to light after the recent WWI centennial. In fact there are so many fascinating accounts to read about during this time that I have plans to write two more novels set in the era.
What is your favorite part of writing? I’m very much a visual person, so creating a storyboard on Pinterest is one of my favorite aspects of writing! I also love the research, which helps me to plot out my stories. It’s exciting to come across an obscure, interesting nugget of history that sparks my imagination—like carrier pigeons being used in espionage during WWI, which I wrote about in my latest novel, Far Side of the Sea.
What is your “go to” routine that helps you get in the mood to write? Special beverage? Music? On my most productive days, I sit down at my computer at 10:00 a.m. with a cup of Earl Grey tea. No music, as I find it distracting, and after checking email and social media for anything pressing, I “unplug” until lunch. Each day, I start by re-reading the last few pages I’d written the day before, making minor corrections, and it’s enough to put my head back into the story. I write six to seven hours daily, 4-5 days a week. I admit to being a perfectionist so I tend to edit as I go and that means my first drafts take longer. I’m also a plotter, so I like having an outline before I start a new story, but I keep things fluid. Changes always occur, and I’ve noticed my characters sometimes take a different view of the story than I do.
Readers, answer her question below to enter the giveaway for a chance to win “Far Side of the Sea”.
ABOUT THE BOOK
In spring 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries on the front, receives a message by carrier pigeon. It is from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life–a woman he believed to be dead. Traveling to France to answer her urgent summons, he desperately hopes this mission will ease his guilt and restore the courage he lost on the battlefield.
Colin is stunned, however, to discover the message came from Jewel’s half sister, Johanna. Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence, found Jewel’s diary and believes her sister is alive in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them.
When their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot, danger and deception turn their search for answers into a battle for their lives.
Author Kate Breslin lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where she enjoys spending time with her husband and family. She also loves reading, writing, hiking, and traveling to new places for the next story idea. Kate’s WWII debut novel, For Such A Time, received ACFW’s 2015 Carol Award, and her fourth novel, Far Side of the Sea, released with Bethany House Publishers in March of 2019. Please visit www.katebreslin.com/books to read an except!
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Purchase links: http://katebreslin.com/books-2-2/
C H A P T E R 1
Hastings, Britain, April 9, 1918
He was suffocating.
Trapped beneath several feet of earth, he tried to claw his way through the dirt and rubble to reach the blue sky above. His starving lungs screamed for air, the torn flesh beneath his broken fingernails bleeding into the soil as he scrabbled toward the surface. The agony in his chest grew unbearable, yet darkness continued to swallow him, the heavens overhead always beyond his grasp. Futility settled over him. He would die here, in this place. Buried alive . . .
Colin awoke with a start. Chest heaving, his sweat-soaked body gave an involuntary shudder. The nightmare was always the same; even using both of his hands, he could never reach the precious blue sky. A sharp rap echoed at the door. Dawn’s gray light filtered through his bedroom window in the cramped seaside flat as he rolled toward his nightstand to turn on the lamp. Blinking against the sudden brightness, he stared at the clock. 0530 . . .The next knock accompanied a hesitant male voice. “Lieutenant Mabry?”
Credit: Far Side of the Sea by Kate Breslin, 2019. Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing.