I am very happy to post this interview with Kristiana Gregory, who for years has been one of my favorite authors from the Dear America series. Her newest book, Cannons at Dawn (which I reviewed here) is the sequel to The Winter of Red Snow, which was originally published in 1996 as one of the first books in the Dear America series and recently rereleased by Scholastic in September 2010. Kristiana has also written several other books in the Dear America and Royal diaries series as well as many other historical novels for middle grade and young adult readers.
Why did you decide to become a writer of historical fiction? Have you always loved history?
When I was a newspaper reporter, I loved digging for facts then writing a story. One day, my editor at the Telegram-Tribune in San Luis Obispo yelled across the newsroom that I needed to start writing fiction because my leads were too flowery! My excuse was that it was painful listening to a city council meeting then having to report the boring details. I wanted a little pzazz, a little something extra that would be FUN. Historical fiction was the next step: I loved history and I loved making things up.
What is your research like for your historical novels? Do you usually visit the places featured in your books?
The only places I was not able to visit were Russia and Egypt [for Catherine the Great and Cleopatra]. Otherwise, I went to France three times for Eleanor: Crown Jewel of Aquitaine [poor me], and made several visits to Valley Forge, Philadelphia and Morristown for the Dear Americas set during the Revolutionary War. I went to Kansas for the Prairie River series; all my books set in California, Utah, Colorado and Idaho are based on research from when I lived in those states.
If you could go back in time for a day (with guaranteed safety!) where would you visit? Would you choose the setting from one of your books, or somewhere else?
The Holy Land, to hang out with Jesus for the day. I haven't yet written about that era.
How did you decide to write a sequel to The Winter of Red Snow after all these years?
I had always wanted to continue Abigail's story, so when Scholastic invited me to do the sequel I was thrilled.
What are some of your own favorite books and authors?
Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Theodore Taylor. Favorite book growing up was Island of the Blue Dolphins, because I lived on the beach looking out toward the Channel Islands. I could picture where the real Karana had lived in solitude for 18 years.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
For years teachers, parents and young readers have asked where ideas come from and what it's like to be a writer, so I've started a blog: http://notesfromthesunroom.blogspot.com/
Whenever a book is mentioned there you can click on the title for a direct link to amazon.com