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Interview with Gail Kittleson

Welcome, Gail, and congratulations on your new release! What is the meaning behind your new novel’s title, With Each New Dawn?
The characters, plunged into the shadowy, behind-enemy-lines-intrigue of World War II, take one day at a time. In an atmosphere of ever-increasing Nazi oppression and individual risk, each new dawn brings the hope that during this day, they can make a difference.

Where did your ideas for these characters and this storyline originate?
Characters come to me—that’s really all I can say. I see the entire process as GIFT. Once they appear and start whispering their stories, I’m irrevocably hooked.

The storyline hinges on the characters, but this is where research enters the picture. Melding characters with history requires concentration and lots of choices. Since this is wartime, and this story has characters in both London and Southern France, a great deal of coordination must occur. My greatest challenge was making certain that all the dates, battles, flights, Waffen SS atrocities, and reactions of my characters fit.

Tell me about your story’s heroine Kate Isaacs. How many years has she been an American RAF widow? And for those who may not know, what does RAF stand for?
She’s still in the first year of widowhood when we meet her. RAF = Royal Air Force. Her husband Alexandre died during a mission when his plane crashed a final time.

What are Kate’s highest hopes and most devastating fears?
She wanted to be a good wife and mother. But underneath that, another longing drives her—she wants to know how her parents, active in World War I, died. They perished in an airplane crash, but what were they doing? Why did they both have to leave her? And what did her father look like, where was he born, and what attracted him to her mother? These gaping holes in her family history haunt Kate.

Why did Kate flee to France?

The intense desire I just mentioned motivated her, as well as Alexandre’s death for the cause of freedom. Besides that, she’s always been a risk-taker, and wants to make a contribution to the war effort. Her patriotism runs deep, and when this opportunity arises, she feels as though she can make a difference. She’s not one to remain down-in-the-mouth for long, and constant reminders of her recent losses surround her. Why not take the chance to create some distance from them?

Tell us about your story’s hero, Domingo Ibarra. What makes him the hero?
Domingo, as loyal and consistent as sunrise and sunset, embraces faith that goes far beyond mere religious activities.

He’s the hero because he can’t help but be. The French Resistance notices his reliability immediately, and entrusts delicate missions to him—life and death assignments. But he carries them out with humility and compassionate care for the people involved. He goes the extra mile, though tempted to take shortcuts.

Describe Kate and Domingo’s meet-cute. What did you love about it?
(I had to ask Alexis what “meet-cute” meant, so that gives you an idea of the romantic thread.) Domingo and Kate met through divine appointment, I’d have to say. What were the chances ... that questions runs all through this novel. The war brought about their meeting, or perhaps we could say God’s hand still at work in the war.

What I love about their meeting is that they’re in the midst of such dire danger, no one’s primping or wondering “what is he thinking?”
That's right. Both characters still grieve the death of love of their lives, so they’re not looking for romantic connections.

Would you say that this is a story about second chances?
Definitely. Considering the scope of the whole miserable war, I’d say the entire human race got another chance. Zeroing in on individual cases, so did many people. If you’ve watched Hacksaw Ridge, you see this principle—horrific circumstances, yet redemption in the midst.

What message do you hope readers take away from this book?
Those of us who’ve never lived through a catastrophic series of brutal injustices still see suffering as part of our lives. But I hope readers will embrace the concept that no matter how awful things get, faith can still deepen. Yes, even in war.

WWII revealed anew the depths to which humans can stoop, yet many retained their faith, and even allowed it to deepen. That’s the message of Kate and Domingo’s lives—our unshakable foundation never, never fails.

How do your faith and spiritual life affect your storytelling?
I hold writing as a spiritual gift—of course, this path includes some pitfalls and disappointments—but to be able to create comes as a daily treasure. I’m so thankful for the ability to “play with words” and especially to have an impact on people’s lives.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
Readers thank me for giving my heroines and heroes no pat religious answers to life’s conundrums, and for letting them struggle through difficulties, just like the rest of us. I believe our questions and doubts must be embraced in order to live with integrity.

Is there a literary character who is most like you?
Maybe Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird—she operates in sort of an alternative universe, with a lot of questions about the people around her and the way things are. Some might label this denial, others would say she’s using her innate gifts. I’ve been this way for as long as I can recall—six whole decades!

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
I love gardening, walking and hiking. Ideas for my work sometimes come to me during these activities, and being out in nature relaxes me. I also like to play the piano.

What books are on your nightstand right now?
The Wit and Wisdom of Winston Churchill by James C. Humes, and Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson.

Thanks for sharing with us, Gail!


Alexis A. Goring is a writer at heart and a journalist by profession. She loves the art of storytelling and has released her first book, an inspirational romance novella called Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories, in Sept. 2013. When Alexis is not working on her next book or chasing the next big story, she can be found listening to music, enjoying food, shopping at her favorite malls, and spending quality time with loved ones.

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