Today on the blog I am proud to be hosting R.V. Doon’s Blog Tour for The War Nurse with an interview & giveaway!
What inspired you to write The War Nurse?
I wanted to write a strong, flawed nurse heroine in a setting where normal society breaks down and explore her survival choices. Bataan’s place in history has always been murky to me. For one, take away the timeline differences, and Manila and all the military outposts in the Philippines were bombed within the same twenty-four hours as Pearl Harbor.
For years the sacrifices at Pearl Harbor were revisited during annual memorial events, but Bataan wasn’t mentioned. Those men were unbelievably brave. When surrendered they were put on a forced walk without food or water in the tropical heat known as the Bataan death march. If they survived combat, the death march, and POW camps, they were loaded on Hell ships like cattle to work as slave labor in Japan. There’s a reason the men called themselves ‘the Battlin’ Bastards of Bataan.’ They felt forgotten during the war and after.
I put the Stahl family residing in New York into internment camps on American soil after reading about one of the men on the Doolittle Raid whose parents and siblings were in a camp. His German family was quietly released. I followed the story chain from there.
Katarina Stahl, an American Red Cross nurse, is the main character in The War Nurse. Can you tell us a bit about her? How did your own personal experiences as a nurse shape the character of Katarina?
She’s born in a southern city, New Orleans, and has a twin sister. After Jack Gallagher breaks up with her at her sister’s wedding, she heads to California. From there, Kat escorts a doctor’s mother who had a stroke from San Francisco to Manila. This short history should clue the reader in to the fact that she busts stereotypes with her streak of independence and sense of adventure.
What Kat and I have in common is we both like change and we’re resilient. I moved between beside nursing, administrator, teacher, and nurse researcher in my career. To motivate myself I’d learn all about my current job, get certified, and then move on. I think the constant learning made me a better nurse.
What was the hardest scene to write?
The war overshadows everything like a dark cloud. People had moments of laughter but they never lasted. When you live under a dark cloud, everything you do is influenced by it. Many of the scenes were difficult, but the final ones building up with her nemesis were gut-wrenching.
What was your favorite scene to write?
I liked every scene with Kat and Jack. They had to squeeze in a lot of loving in 4 months while under horrendous stress.
What do you want readers to take away from The War Nurse?
Women in that time period were strong and brave. We often talk about them as homemakers and such, but a few were incredibly daring and took many risks in the war zone. Kat is modeled off real women. Many civilian nurses worked beside the Army nurses and followed them into the internment camp. Another civilian, Claire Phillips, played a dangerous, risky spy game for years before the Japanese arrested her. She amazed me. The POWs didn’t know her real name, they knew her moniker, High Pockets, but they mentioned her during interviews after the war ended. She was awarded the Medal of Freedom (the highest honor for a civilian) for her war contributions, and yes, she was tortured in the same manner as Katarina.
What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?
Mid Modern to Contemporary (Modern) periods. That said, I’m a sucker for the Elizabethan period too.
What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
I like sailing but I’m the first to admit, I’ve got loads to learn. It’s a beautiful moment when the sails catch the wind and the boat glides across the water in silence.
What was the first historical novel you read?
Gone with the Wind. This started a life-long addiction to long books, and I’m sorry I cut The War Nurse trying to make the suggested word counts.
What is the last historical novel you read?
Go Away Home by Carol Bodensteiner
If there was a soundtrack for your novel, what songs might we find on it?
There’s a local restaurant that plays 1940 songs and I got their hit list: “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Glenn Miller, “I’ll Be Seeing You” Frank Sinatra, “I’ll Walk Alone” Dianh Shore, “I’ll Never Smile Again”, Frank Sinatra, “Who Wouldn’t Love You,” Kay Kyser, “White Christmas,” Bing Crosby, “A String of Pearls”, Glenn Miller, “You’ll Never Know”, Dick Haymes, “Till the End of Time,” Perry Como.
I liked listening to big band music and also played a lot of Harry Connick Jr. too. Especially “We Are In Love.” I love his voice.
You’ve written across several genres – mystery, thriller, romance, and now historical – what is next for you? Will you be writing another historical in the future?
Absolutely. My research is a mess, but I have a timeline. I’m putting the papers together. I’ll start writing soon after I launch my next medical thriller in January. There is one detail I’m still trying to track down, but I’m not sure I’ll get lucky. Historical people are so secretive, aren’t they? We dig and dig, but sometimes the answers stay hidden.