Caroline: Tell us about growing up. Were you the shy kid or the one full of mischief? Only child or from a large family? Did you move a lot or live in the same house all your childhood?
Kristina: Given that my father is a Japanese immigrant, he really was hoping for a son for all the usual cultural reasons (carry on the family name, bloodline, etc.). What he ended up with was three daughters who love to give him a whole lot of grief. As the oldest of the crew, I was very outgoing and didn't get into much mischief at all. Come to think of it, I'm sort of regretting that now! We lived in the same suburban home for most of my youth. Not until we sold the house toward the end of my high school years did I discover that it was built on the edge of what used to be a cemetery. Poltergeist flashback, anyone?
Caroline: Makes you wonder what happened to the graves, doesn't it? Tell us about your acting and television career and other jobs you found interesting.
Kristina: At the age of nine, I started a five-year stint of hosting a kids' television show for Oregon's ABC-affiliate. It was an interesting way to grow up—spending every Tuesday memorizing scripts, then Wednesday evenings at the station, doing homework between shots, and filming on-location reports over the weekends. As a result, I became very comfortable interacting with adults and developed a strong work ethic early on. I still have fond memories of playing with the weather monitors, thanks to a kind meteorologist. After college, I stumbled back into the industry while living in Los Angeles, and had some great and memorable experiences. Maybe one day I'll write a tell-all book. Hmm….
Caroline: Truly a child star, what an interesting life you've led! Have you always wanted to write?
Kristina: I wish I could say I was at least an avid reader before believing I possessed the skills necessary to pen an entire novel (a decently enjoyable novel, that is). But honestly, I was a movie buff instead. Only due to blissful ignorance did I venture down the crazy literary path before realizing how little I knew about…well, all of it. By then, it was too late to turn back, and thankfully so.
Caroline: I noticed that your book is a selection on Book Movement for book clubs. What prompted you to write LETTERS FROM HOME?
Kristina: When gathering family recipes to compile a cookbook as a holiday gift one year, I decided to interview my grandmother for the biographical section. She soon revealed a secret stack of letters my late grandfather had sent to her while he was serving in the Navy during World War II. That collection was the nugget that inspired my debut novel.
Caroline: That sounds wonderful! I’m very interested in family history. Which reminds me of a project in which you’re very actively invovled. Would you tell readers about United Through Reading?
Kristina: In honor of my grandparents, and all the other families kept apart by tours of duty, I’m donating a portion of my book’s proceeds to United Through Reading, a nonprofit organization that video records deployed U.S. military personnel reading bedtime stories for their children. You can learn more about the program at http://www.unitedthroughreading.org/military
Caroline: That’s a commendable program. I noticed that the same organization also has a unit that allows grandparents to tell stories to their grandchildren. Tell us a little about LETTERS FROM HOME.
Kristina: LETTERS FROM HOME features a Midwestern infantryman who, in the midst of World War II, falls deeply in love through a yearlong letter exchange, unaware that the girl he's writing to isn't the one replying. Sharing equal spotlight are three female friends whose journeys toward independence take unexpected turns as a result of romance, tragedy, and deception—and the repercussions each woman faces from her choices. At its core, it's a story about sacrifices made in love and war, and the chance encounters that change us forever.
Caroline: Such a gorgeous cover! With your marketing experience, did you have trouble selling your manuscript?
Kristina: In the beginning, absolutely! Although I've always remained passionate about the premise of my book, my craft had a long way to go. Also, when I first set out to find an agent, WWII was not a "hot" genre for women's fiction, to put it mildly. But eventually the market shifted, thanks to a handful of popular novels set during that era, and they opened a door for books like mine to make it to the shelves.
Caroline: All your readers will be grateful this book is available. What is your current project?
Kristina: I recently turned in my second novel to my editor, a women's fiction story titled BRIDGE OF SCARLET LEAVES. It's about 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.
I'm very eager to share this one with readers, since it features some shocking aspects of history that most people have never heard about, as well as heroes who are too often passed over. Also, being half Japanese, I was able to infuse a unique perspective of living between worlds.
Caroline: Sounds intriguing. I love learning new aspects of history. Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers?
Kristina: LETTERS FROM HOME includes a book club discussion guide and 1940s recipes. And I'm happy to meet with reading groups in person or via phone/Skype.
I hope your readers will swing by my website, where I offer a lot of special highlights, including excerpts from my grandfather's World War II letters.
Caroline: What a great segue for me to ask where readers can learn more about you?
Kristina: My website: http://www.kristinamcmorris.com
LETTERS FROM HOME Trailer is at: http://www.tinyurl.com/McMorris
You can read a LETTERS FROM HOME excerpt at: http://www.kristinamcmorris.com/home.php?pg=excerpt_letters_from_home
Caroline: Can you provide a buy link to your publisher?
|Free Book to One|
Caroline: Thank you so much for being my guest today, Kristina.
Readers, Kristina has graciously offered a copy of LETTERS FROM HOME for one lucky person who leaves a comment. (Please include your email so I can contact you if you win.)
Good luck, and keep reading our books!