Monday, April 10, 2017

What Inspired Among the Red Stars—A Guest Post by Gwen Katz!

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! :)


Publisher: HarperTeen
Pub. Date: October 3rd 2017
Pre-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! :)

23 comments:

  1. It wasn't on my TBR but it is now, sounds like a fabulous read!!! A recent favorite historical novel is Kerri Maniscalco's Stalking Jack the Ripper. ;)

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    1. Omg yes, it must be on your TBR! And I love Stalking Jack the Ripper!

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  2. Ever since I saw this Among the Red Stars on your WOW post I've been SO excited for it. It's going to be a must-read for me!

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    1. Yay, that makes me so happy that it's a must read for you! Hopefully, we both love it ^_^

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  3. Wow that's a pretty cool way to get inspired :P it looks absolutely amazing!! Thanks for sharing this interview :)!
    Kariny @kariny's boox frenzy

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    1. Right?! I'm glad you enjoyed it, thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Such a great inspiration story! I first heard about this book from your WOW a little while ago and I knew I had to have it. I will definitely preorder this book (:

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    1. Yay!!! I hope you love it. And this is probably one of the best inspiration stories I've ever heard haha.

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  5. I think your WOW was probably the first I'd heard of this. It sounds vaguely along the lines of Code Name Verity, in a good way. My recent historical fiction that I loved was the conclusion to the Forbidden series, Returned.

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    1. I'm glad I got this book on your radar! I haven't read Code Name Verity but I hope you like Among the Red Stars.

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  6. Oh that is one way to get you to stop procrastinating and just go for it. :) Love the inspiration post!

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    1. Definitely! Glad you enjoyed this post, and I hope Among the Red Stars is on your TBR!

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  7. This sounds like such an amazing read - I haven't heard of it before now, and I definitely will be picking up a copy when it releases! Loved reading the guest post about the inspiration for the book!

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    1. Doesn't it? I'm so excited to read it. I hope we both love Among the Red Stars!

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  8. What an interesting concept! I love that the main character is female and I think it does sound like a way more interesting book than all of those required school reads. Thanks for sharing this! ;)

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    1. Isn't it? I'm so excited to read this book, I'm shocked that no one else has written about this story yet.

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  9. I just got your newsletter ​for 4/11 and the first thing I saw was K-pop I was like you like K-pop too :-):-) I'm also currently obsessed​ with K-pop, specially BTS, have you seen them dance,Oh.. my.. Gosh.. amazing :-):-) I think they're adorable and funny :-) any who, I know this has nothing to do with this post but I just needed to comment :-)

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    1. Any comment referring to Kpop is good with me! Yes, they dance amazing! I saw them in concert recently, and they are fantastic! Thanks for stopping by ^_^

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    2. You went to see them. Oh my gosh, I'm so jealous :):) I know they were touring and went to my hometown of Chicago :):) wish I could've gone :( maybe someday :)

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  10. Oh, what a GREAT inspiration story!! And a funny one, too!! LOVED reading it!! Thanks to Gwee for sharing that!!

    I've had this book on my Goodreads shelves since I saw it featured on your WOW post recently, Brittany. Of course I had to add it!! We need more stories of female heroism!! ABSOLUTELY!! thanks for bringing us this AWESOME guest post!!! <3 <3 :) :)

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    1. So glad that you enjoyed it! And yay for adding Among the Red Stars to your Goodreads shelf! I hope love it and I'm so glad that I could introduce it to you. Thanks for stopping by <3

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  11. Awesome guest post sweetie :D YAY for being excited about this book. <3 It do sound pretty amazing :)

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