I am very excited to have Kristina McMorris here on A Novel Review today! Last year Kristina released her novel, Letters From Home, which has received fantastic reviews. I am very excited to get to know her better and to have the oppertunity to review her newest book Bridge of Scarlet Leaves.
WHO? Who are you as a writer?
Before diving into a writing career, I was actually J. Lo. Okay, not Jennifer Lopez the person, just her character from "The Wedding Planner." I owned an event and wedding planning business for years—coordinating up to fourteen weddings per summer, ack!—so when it comes to literary projects, I'm most definitely a plotter. Having grown up in the TV/film industry, I tend to develop my stories as if watching a movie—in full scenes and always linearly. Writers who can hop around between chapters boggle my mind.
I also take pride in doing in-depth research, including an internment pilgrimage, vet interviews, war re-enactments, and even a B-17 ride (admittedly, more fun than work). I love delivering little-known historical facts through fictional stories, especially when they shine a spotlight on humble heroes who deserve our recognition.
WHAT? What do you enjoy doing other than writing in your spare time?
Spare time? Hmm…I think I've heard of the concept, lol. Honestly, given the utterly glamorous life I lead as a minivan-driving soccer mom of two young boys, spare time has definitely become a rarity. Even now, I hesitate to confess, I'm literally typing this at Chuck E. Cheese. (With the lights, games, tokens, and all-you-can-eat buffet, I swear this place is grooming future Vegas-goers!)
In the free time I do finagle, I love watching movies (especially preceded by great movie trailers), drinking yummy wine with friends, and playing cards with my family. I taught my five-year-old how to talk smack early on, and now that he typically beats us all, I'm suddenly regretting that choice.
WHEN? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Six years ago I was pregnant with our second son. I was high on hormones, evidently feeling superhuman—if I could create life, a book couldn't be all that hard—when I was inspired to pen a novel based on my grandparents' courtship letters. They had met only twice during WWII before the sailor proposed to his sweetheart, uniting them in a marriage that lasted until he passed away fifty years later. My grandma kept each of his letters in a box, which she finally shared with me when I interviewed her for the biographical section of a family cookbook I was compiling, filled with recipes she had created and collected over decades, intended as a Christmas gift for the family.
I started to wonder how well two people could truly know each other through letters alone, which sparked the premise of my debut novel, LETTERS FROM HOME. Of course, the story's Cyrano de Bergerac element—wherein the soldier doesn't realize the girl he's writing to isn't the one replying—was a twist I added in the name of fiction. But bits and pieces of my grandfather's letters live on in my book, as does the initial inspiration that continues to drive me as I trudge through every new project.
WHERE? Where do you write?
After writing two full novels in the confines of my office, I splurged on a laptop to allow me to edit while sitting on our comfy living room couch. Between the gas fireplace and ottoman, as well as an end table for my mug of tea, I have now found it nearly impossible to venture back into my office—which wouldn't be a problem necessarily, if it weren't for the fact that I'm much more productive when not lounging on said comfy couch. To motivate myself, I recently bought a super-fancy chair and a super-fancy keyboard for the office…and yet, every morning, I can't help but plant myself by the fire. I'm sure there's a support group for this kind of thing.
WHY? Why do you write?
Oh, how I long to be one of those writers who can honestly answer: Because I can't NOT write. I'm envious of those people. So much so, I choose to believe they're not human.
Frankly, many days undergoing a root canal sounds more appealing to me than punching out a chapter from scratch. Editing, on the other hand, I'm a much bigger fan of. Reading my entire piece of work when it's done and polished, then feeling pleased it has turned out to be close to—or, if I'm lucky, even better than—the story I envisioned in my head…this is the main reason I continue to click away at the keys. The other reason quickly became clear the day I received a powerful email regarding my debut, sent from a WWII veteran who, like my infantry character, had served in the harrowing Battle of the Bulge: Keep up the good work, it read simply. Goodness knows, I'm certainly going to try.
Kristina McMorris is an award-winning author and graduate of Pepperdine University. A TV host of weekly shows sine age nine, including an Emmy Award-winning program, she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. For more, visit: www.KristinaMcMorris.com
Thank-you so much for visiting A Novel Review and letting us get to know you a little bit better! On a personal note, I think you are the first author who did answer the Why do you write that didn't say because she felt you had too. I loved reading that as I, myself have a love/hate relationship with writing and I was beginning to feel alone! Thank-you again and wishing you much success!