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Interview with Kate Breslin

Not many writers can say they write in a turret-like room filled with inspiring artifacts and reached by way of a spiral wrought iron staircase. Kate Breslin can. Winner of the 2015 ACFW Carol Award for Debut Novel, Kate puts her imagination on paper in such an atmosphere. Originally from Florida, she now enjoys family and writing life in the Pacific Northwest where she's not above festive strolling in her Irish Princess costume at Scottish events.

Like her first two releases, Kate sets aside her Scottish roots for
High as the Heavens and swoops down into turbulent 1917 German-occupied Brussels to bring us the romance of an injured RFC pilot and a widowed British nurse in a time when secrets are a necessary part of life behind enemy lines.

Kate, why did you choose for your hero to be a pilot?
Great question! I chose to make Simon a pilot because it worked best for my storyline and because I greatly admire the bravery and nerve of those early flyboys. Planes were still relatively new during the war years of 1914-1918 (Wright Brothers first flight was 1903) and flying was a perilous undertaking. Between early plane construction and the weather and combat conditions, the average life expectancy for a pilot was about three weeks! Their jobs were made even more dangerous because Allied military pilots were not allowed parachutes. (The first pilot to use a parachute was a German in 1918.) The main reason for this was due to the cramped seats of early planes, which didn’t allow room for a parachute. Another reason, a bit more hardcore, was that without a chute, the pilot was more inclined to limp his plane back to base rather let it go down.

You appear to thrive on research and travel. If you had the chance, would you take a ride in the bi-plane pictured on your website?
Absolutely! In fact, growing up in Florida near Cape Canaveral, I always thrilled to watch the launching of the NASA Space Shuttles and I daydreamed about flying to the moon.

Since Antwerp appears in your story because of a photo and memory of a visit to Europe, can you tell us if the trip was made for research or fun?
I made the trip to Belgium many years ago for pleasure, along with visiting six other countries on a European tour. I didn’t spend a lot of time in Antwerp, but I did get the chance to visit Liege as well and to see some Second World War history there.

Have you visited a castle on any of your adventures?
I did briefly visit Heidelberg Castle in Heidelberg and Nymphenburg Palace in Munich on that same trip. I also had time to explore Linderhof Castle in Bavaria and mentioned it in my debut novel. It was said that Bavaria’s King Ludwig II was obsessed with styling his palace after the decadence of Louis XIV’s palace in Versailles, to the point that it cost him his throne.

Do you have a favorite castle you would love to visit some day?
I’m crazy for all things Celtic, so my first choice would be Eilean Donan Castle in the West Highlands of Scotland. And if I get a second choice, I fell in love during my research with the castle of Mont St-Michel off the Normandy coast of France.

What is the most memorable thing you've discovered through research?
While working on High As The Heavens, I came across a diary from an American woman living in occupied Brussels during the war years of 1914-1918. In her memoir she spoke of “garden parties,” where Belgians went out in the middle of the night to bury personal possessions in their gardens, hiding them from the enemy who routinely ransacked their homes and took from them whatever might aid Germany’s war machine. Copper, such as piping, plate, and jewelry was a hot item, along with silver, porcelain, and glass. Some interesting items that were also frequently confiscated were rubber from bicycle tires and the metal tooling from shoe factories, which created a lot of barefoot people in Belgium by war’s end. Dogs were also taken, to be trained or bred as German war dogs. According to the memoir, many Belgians chose to euthanize their pets rather than hand them over to the “Boche.”

As a veteran bookseller, do you organize your personal book collection in any particular manner?
I do alphabetize my hardcovers by author, but the bazillion or so paperback copies I own are stuffed in wherever I can find room. I have hundreds of titles on my shelves that I’ve yet to read, but can’t bring myself to part with a single one. I keep hoping that one day I’ll get to read them all. Maybe by the time I’m 90...

Did you have aspirations of being an author while working as a bookseller? I have this image of you holding a best-seller with a dreamy look on your face. Am I close?
Yes, you are spot on! I was already working toward publication when I became a bookseller years ago, and while I was happy selling books written by other authors, I kept dreaming that one day it would be my own book I was holding. What a thrill it was when that dream finally came true!

Is there someone or something that inspires you to write?
I believe God inspires me most, especially when He puts a message on my heart and the words to share with others. He also keeps me going during those challenging times; the days when the words don’t flow as easily as I’d like, or when I have more knot than plot. I also find story inspiration through my research. Truth is always stranger than fiction, so when I happen upon a piece of history that fascinates me or pulls at my heartstrings, I become passionate about sharing it with the world.

You've set books in both WW1 and WW2. Do you prefer one setting more than the other?
I actually love them both! My debut novel, For Such A Time, is set during WWII, and there is still so much to write about in that era, but I’ve really enjoyed exploring the history surrounding the Great War. I love novels set in the UK, and right now I’m re-watching one of my favorite Masterpiece Theater series, Downton Abbey, so I think I’ll linger in this time period a bit longer.

Have you considered writing a series with any of your characters?
I had planned to write a series with characters from my previous novel, Not By Sight, however my new release, High As The Heavens, is a “connecting” novel rather than a series. The two stories are completely unrelated; however, they do share a minor character and a consecutive timeline. My next story will feature a more prominent character from Not By Sight, so I would urge readers to finish that novel first. I don’t want to spoil anything!

Anything you'd like to add?
Speaking of the next story, I’m currently working on my fourth novel for Bethany House, scheduled for release in spring of 2019. With High As The Heavens set in Belgium and Britain during the Great War, my next story also takes place in WWI Europe—this time London, Paris, and along the Spanish coast! It’s spring of 1918, and my handsome young lieutenant and his unconventional sidekick are on the hunt for something precious. Spies lurk around every corner however, and these two soon find themselves caught in a web of intrigue. Can love and a leap of faith set them free to finish their quest…or will it be too late? I’m having fun with my characters in the story and I hope to provide readers with a few more twists and turns!


Anita Mae Draper's historical romances are woven under the western skies of the Saskatchewan prairie where her love of research and genealogy yields fascinating truths that layer her stories with rich historical details. Anita's short story, Here We Come A-Wassailing, was a finalist for the Word Guild's 2015 Word Awards. Her novellas are included in Austen in Austin Volume 1, The American Heiress Brides Collection, and The Secret Admirer Romance Collection. Readers can check out Anita's Pinterest boards for a visual idea of her stories to enrich their reading experience. Discover more at and

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