The Debutante Ball Welcomes Kristina McMorris (+ a chance to win her fabulous debut novel!)

The Debutante Ball is tickled pink to welcome Kristina McMorris to take a twirl around the dance floor!

Inspired by a collection of her grandparents’ World War II courtship letters, Kristina McMorris penned her first novel, Letters from Home. This award-winning book, which celebrated its release just weeks ago, is being hailed as “ambitious and compelling…[a] sweeping debut” by Publishers Weekly. Various book club rights have been sold to Reader’s Digest and Doubleday, sales of global rights are on the rise, and the film rights are represented by the prestigious Creative Artists Agency of Los Angeles.

Here’s what Letters from Home is all about:

In the midst of World War II, a Midwestern infantryman falls deeply in love through a yearlong letter exchange, unaware that the girl he’s writing to isn’t the one replying. Woven around this tenuous thread are three female friends whose journeys toward independence take unexpected turns as a result of romance, tragedy, and deception, their repercussions heightened by an era of the unknown. Beautifully rendered and deeply moving, Letters From Home is a a story of hope and connection, of sacrifices made in love and war – and the chance encounters that change us forever.

A discussion guide and 1940s recipes are featured in the book, making it a great selection for reading groups! Kristina loves to meet with book clubs in person or via phone/Skype.

Kristina McMorris lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. She has garnered more than twenty national literary awards and has been named one of the Business Journal’s “40 under 40.” A graduate of Pepperdine University, she spent twelve years hosting weekly television shows, starting with an Emmy® Award-winning program at age nine. Prior to her literary career, she was the owner of a wedding/event planning business and public relations director of an international conglomerate.

Kristina agreed to take the Deb Interview, and we’re excited to hear what she has to say. Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Letters from Home.

Now, without further ado, we give you Kristina McMorris!

World War II isn’t a very common setting for women’s fiction or romance novels. Why did you choose it, and what were the advantages and disadvantages of doing so?

Several years ago, I was interviewing my grandmother for the biographical section of a self-published cookbook, created as a Christmas gift for the family, when she revealed a surprising fact: She and my late grandfather had dated only twice before marrying during World War II. She then shared with me a secret collection of the Navy man’s letters, the pages filled with endearing messages responsible for forging their bond.

As I later wondered how well two people could truly know each other through letters alone, the premise of my book emerged and soon I was typing away at my computer.

Looking back, if I’d known what a challenge I was in for—given the rarity of my setting by industry standards, and how little I knew about World War II—I might have reconsidered taking on such a daunting project for my first novel. By the time I figured it out, it was too late to turn back. And now, what was once labeled a “tough sell” era is thankfully gaining wonderful momentum.

Has writing this book given you the opportunity to meet anyone you might not have met otherwise? Tell us about it.

Goodness, yes! Over the course of my research, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know many docents, archivists, and experts in various fields that I likely wouldn’t have encountered. Best of all, I’ve befriended numerous World War II veterans, including members of the famed “Band of Brothers,” whose stories have touched my heart, and will undoubtedly remain with me for years to come.

You have an impressive background in media/public relations. What advice can you offer other authors on managing the marketing aspect of their writing careers?

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to generate buzz. Get creative, think outside the box. Since my novel involves letters, I launched a national love letter contest, and reached out to a large number of blogs and websites dedicated to promoting the lost art of letter writing. This is just one example of the many ways you can spread word.

Who is one of your favorite (fictional or non-fictional) characters?

Death, the narrator in The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, one of my all-time favorites.

Talk about one thing that’s making you happy right now.

My kids repeatedly telling me how proud they are of what I’ve accomplished. I’m so happy that I’ve been able to provide my children with tangible proof of what hard work and determination can achieve. Let me tell you, my stack of rejection letters is not small.

Where do you love to be?

Florence, Italy. I had the good fortune of living there for a year during my college years, and I would love to go back again someday soon.

Share something that’s always guaranteed to make you laugh.

My kids making each other giggle.

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Stay true to your voice, the way you view the world. You can improve upon everything else, but don’t let anyone edit out what is uniquely yours.

What are the hardest and easiest things about your job?

The hardest is writing from scratch. 95% of the time, I hate it. I self-edit as I go, so each page can be grueling to finish. The fact that I write historicals that require an insane amount of research (I have no one to blame but myself) doesn’t help my cause.

The easiest thing for me, I would say, is writing the dialogue for my male characters. For some strange reason, their lines flow right out.

What’s your next big thing?  (new book, new project, etc.)

I just turned in my second novel to my editor. It’s titled Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, and features a female Caucasian violinist who secretly elopes with her Japanese-American boyfriend—against societal molds and families’ wishes—the night before Pearl Harbor is bombed.

Being half-Japanese, I’m very excited to share this one with readers, as it explores the dilemmas of living between cultures, a feeling I experienced a great deal growing up. Also, the story brings to light many aspects of history that most people have no idea occurred, as well as unique heroes who are too often overlooked.

***

Thank you, Kristina, for giving us such wonderful insights into your book and your inspirations!

Readers, would you like to win a copy of Letters from Home? Leave a comment! We’ll pick a winner on Friday, March 18 and will announce his or her name in the News Flash on Sunday, March 20. Good luck, and thanks for reading!

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23 thoughts on “The Debutante Ball Welcomes Kristina McMorris (+ a chance to win her fabulous debut novel!)

  1. At last a book my Mom can read about WWII! Congrats on what looks like a wonderful read. My Dad is a WWII Veteran and loves all things about “The Big War.” He drags my Mom (who is quite a bit younger than he, but that’s for another post, they’re 52 years married) to every movie and we have a house full of books on the topic. A love story will be far more appealing to her than the ratatatatat of Gatling guns!

    As an aside, if you have family in Japan, I hope you have heard from them since the earthquake and tsunami and now nuclear disaster.

    Deb Kim

  2. I was reared by my grandparents so WWII was what I grew up on. I loved living with their old fashioned perspective.
    lvsgund at gmail dot com

  3. Thanks so much for joining us at The Debutante Ball! I pre-ordered your book for my Kindle and was looking forward to reading it while vacationing here in Hawaii, but my mother (bless her heart) snatched it from me and has been enjoying it thoroughly!

    Tawna

  4. This sounds so good – I love War Letters (wrote an essay on them for a class in college), and this sounds like a beautiful story. Can’t wait to read it! 🙂

  5. I’m happy and relieved that Kristina persevered with Letters From Home when she was first told by publishers that nobody was interested in WW II stories from women authors. I think her book sounds wonderful and I’m looking forward to reading it!

    Thank you Kristina and The Debutante Ball for a great interview!

    Aimala127@gmail.com

  6. This sounds really interesting and I also love the idea of her next book, sounds like it will also be great.

    strandedhero(at)gmail(dot)com

  7. Thanks so much for the interview. I feel honored to be here. And I’m grateful for all your warm wishes regarding my book, as well as our family in Japan. Fortunately, so far, my family in Kyoto is all safe. We pray it stays that way, and that we’re able to hear from friends in Tokyo soon.

    Again, thanks for allowing me to visit!

  8. Great interview! thanks!

    As for your new book….you had me at hello…..I mean, you had me at “inspired by a collection of her grandparents’ World War II courtship letters”. I cannot wait to read this and already added to my list on goodreads where I see you are an author.

  9. Great interview. The premise of Letters from Home sounds fascinating. This book will be definitely in my next order from Amazon.

  10. Thanks for visiting, Kristina! Glad to hear your family in Japan is safe and congratulations on the success of the book – I’ve been seeing it mentioned everywhere!

  11. Just wanted to say that I have had this book for over a week and have been enjoying it very much. In spite of my desire to savor it slowly I am nearly finished. I will be recommending this read to everyone.
    Not only a beautiful cover, but a thoroughly lovely read.

  12. Observation: The cover and synopsis is similar and has the feel of Deb Sarah’s THE VIOLETS OF MARCH. Was that an oversight? Begs the question, like Hollywood movies, are original concepts that hard to come by, even though we all believe that our idea is new? How does one get out of the “Lifetime” movie genre when writing a novel? Or does it matter, because obviously the books still sell?

  13. Wow, this really brought back memories of my own parents and how they met in WWII – My dad was a pilot and my mom was the camp newspaper editor. Dad crashed his plane (being flown by a student) and ended up in the hospital. Mom went to interview him and then there was love… Great interview!

  14. I think your novel is going to be a huge success, Kristina! I’m seeing more WWII fiction right now, and it feels really fresh. People are ready to read about this time period.

  15. Your book sounds wonderful, Kristina! I bought a copy and sent it to my sister for her birthday. I’m planning to buy another to give my mom (my father and mother married at the Paris Island Marine Base during WWII) as I know she’ll enjoy this story. She and my father had most of their ‘dates’ by mail, too. Can’t wait to read it myself!

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