Hey, guys! Today, I have the great pleasure of welcoming Gwen Katz to the blog. Her debut novel, Among the Red Stars, is coming out on October 3rd. I recently featured it in a Waiting on Wednesday post because it's one of my most highly anticipated books of the year, so please add it to your TBRs and enjoy Gwen's story about what inspired her to write it! :)
Pub. Date: October 3rd 2017Pre-Order it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
World War Two has shattered Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She knows her skills as a pilot rival the best of the men, so when an all-female aviation group forms, Valka is the first to sign up.
Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German soldiers from a fragile canvas biplane is no joyride. The war is taking its toll on everyone, including the boy Valka grew up with, who is fighting for his life on the front lines.
As the war intensifies and those around her fall, Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defend the skies she once called home.
Inspired by the true story of the airwomen the Nazis called Night Witches, Gwen C. Katz weaves a tale of strength and sacrifice, learning to fight for yourself, and the perils of a world at war.
Gwen C. Katz is a writer, artist, game designer, and retired mad scientist easily identified by her crew cut and ability to cause trouble. Originally from Seattle, she now lives in Altadena, CA with her husband and a revolving door of transient mammals. She is represented by Thao Le of Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.
Connect with Gwen: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Deviantart
Among the Red Stars began, as all great novels surely do, with a board game.
It may surprise people to learn that the plot of Among the Red Stars predated the setting. It may further surprise people to learn that my background is exclusively in sci-fi/fantasy. Like a lot of kids, my exposure to historical fiction came mostly in the form of depressing required school reading like My Brother Sam Is Dead, a book which singlehandedly turned an entire generation of kids against the genre. So when I came up with the idea of a female pilot who has to rescue a male soldier, I was initially toying around with some kind of science fiction setting.
I was at my in-laws' house at the time and we were playing Wings of War. My father-in-law is a war aviation buff so dedicated that he repainted the miniature planes that came with the game to have more historically accurate liveries. The game is obviously more fun if you name your fighter ace, which led me to ask if any female pilots had fought in the world wars, and if so, which country they had fought for. Like many of you, I was utterly surprised to find out that yes, women had flown in combat during both world wars, both times on the side of the Russians.
A fact like that demands Googling. It took about half a Wikipedia article for me to decide that someone desperately needed to write a novel about these women. My rescue plot immediately suggested itself as an obvious fit. It was at this point that I made my big mistake.
I told my father-in-law.
Within days, he had informed every member of our family as well as every aviation enthusiast in the greater bay area about his daughter-in-law's book, of which precisely zero words existed at that point. I was faced with two choices: Either go around and inform everyone that no, it wasn't happening, or just write the thing.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Gwen, thank you so much for sharing your inspiration story behind Among the Red Stars! It was an absolute pleasure having you on the blog :)
And guys, is Among The Red Stars on your TBR? Have you read it yet? And finally, what are your favorite historical fiction YA novels? I want to know, so please share your thoughts in the comments below! :)