Meet author Gail Kittleson
Gail and her retired Army chaplain husband enjoy grandchildren, gardening, and learning about history. She writes World War II women’s fiction, memoir, and non-fiction. No matter how dire the circumstances, you can count on her make-do heroines and heroes to discover new strength and move forward in faith. Facilitating workshops and retreats gives Gail opportunity to cheerlead other writers (she misses instructing college writing classes), and editing other author’s work authors also brings unique satisfaction.
Tell us about your newest book. Land That I Love.
Everett Herring, a British teacher who lost his wife and his home in a tragic fire, moves to the United States in 1938. Having decided to earn his living caring for an orchard, a skill his grandfather taught him, he and William, his butler, bring Everett’s young son to Loyal Valley, an obscure small town in Texas Hill Country. As they observe world events leading to a terrible war, we see its far-reaching effects on the local populace.
What inspired you to write Land That I Love?
For some reason, Texas had been on my mind—at least in my experience, we can’t always explain these things! The more I read about the Hill Country, quite an isolated area northwest of San Antonio, the more I felt it was perfect for Everett, a British immigrant in 1938. Everett made his appearance during 2020—perhaps the Covid isolation prompted him to show up.
How would you describe this book to someone in a 30-second blurb?
The ravages of World War II spread near and far, but the foundation of family and solid friendships eased the misery it caused.
What genre do you focus on?
Women’s historical fiction. I actually aim for literary fiction, since it’s my favorite to read, but hesitate to claim that genre.
Why do you write?
Part of my motivation is that I got such a late start. I love the process, even though it’s exhausting, but was slow to begin because I never imagined I could write good fiction. Discovering that I readers do like my stories motivated me to continue, and through it all, my goal is to honor the make-do folks of the Greatest Generation.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing a book?
A bit crazy. I’m a true writing addict, so I get going and sometimes forget to eat. Nothing else matters during these binges—housework, cooking, or whatever else is going on around me. I have no set schedule, just write and write and write, then rewrite, rewrite and rewrite, and finally, edit and edit and edit.
What’s the best part of your author’s life?
I think the writing itself—I just love writing! Also, hearing readers’ comments makes my day or week or month, at times. I especially like hearing that I didn’t give my characters any “easy outs” or pat answers. People appreciate down-to-earth heroines and heroes who conquer obstacles even without being given any “breaks,” because that’s where most of us live. We may be people of faith, but that doesn’t necessarily make our everyday lives any easier.
What’s one unusual fact about you?
I seem to approach things in a backhanded way. This has always been true of me, I think—I remember Mom saying, “You deal the cards with the wrong hand.” As an adult, my methods probably might seem peculiar to others, as if my brain were processing the opposite of most people’s. But it works for me.
How have you changed or grown as a writer?
Whoo boy! I’ve become resigned to the inevitable presence of errors, for one thing. No matter how many times I edit a manuscript, a few ALWAYS slip through. I’ve also learned to self-edit, and even enjoy the process. Sometimes I think I delete more words than I write. Lastly, I’ve come to value the final creation as worthy. This took a long time, since I began with the belief that I really had very little to offer.
Do you have other books? We’d love to know.
Yes, you can see them all on my website. My first three books, In Times Like These, With Each New Dawn, and A Purpose True form a series, although they can each be read as stand-alones. My other single titles: All For The Cause, Kiss Me Once Again and Until Then, are about World War II. Secondhand Sunsets is an aberration, telling the story of a pioneer woman in Arizona Territory. Two nonfiction releases, The Food That Held The World Together and A WWII Holiday Scrapbook, were co-written with Cleo Lampos. I co-wrote Country Music’s Hidden Gem with Billy Rae Stewart, the son of Redd Stewart, who wrote the lyrics to The Tennessee Waltz.
What are you working on now?
I have a cozy WWII mystery in the works.
Social media links:
Follow me on social media!