We don’t often reflect on the forces molding our childhood experiences until much later in life. Here I am in my sixties, finally considering how much World War II affected my parents, and therefore, my siblings and me.
The Women of The Heartland Series, I realize now, found its roots in my parents’ moorings. Dad served four years in the war, and Mom anxiously awaited her two brothers’ return from the infantry. Her barefoot singing in the kitchen surrounded us as children, and what did she sing? World War II tunes, of course. There’ll be bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover … Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, wooden shoe… I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places …
So when the heroines of In Times Like These and With Each New Dawn, came to me, those songs danced in my memory bank. Not consciously, of course. Actually, I didn’t “get it” until someone at a book signing asked, “So, did you pattern your heroines after anyone?”
“Nope,” I blithely stated. But then I had a flash about how much certain characters resemble my mother— a hard working, mid-western make-do woman from humble circumstances. So I backtracked and shared the epiphany.
Katherine Anne Porter wrote, “The past is never where you think you left it.”
Ah, isn’t that the truth? We’re products of our past, and I’m learning our heroines are too.
Gail Kittleson taught college expository writing and English as a Second Language. Now she writes memoir and women’s fiction, and facilitates writing workshops and women’s retreats. In northern Iowa, she and her husband enjoy grandchildren and gardening. In winter, the Arizona mountains provide new novel fodder. Find Gail online at http://www.gailkittleson.com/
About With Each New Dawn: In war-torn London, American Kate Isaac grieves her husband, awaits their child’s birth, and welcomes her best friend Addie. But after her miscarriage, a meeting with mysterious Monsieur le Blanc launches her into Britain’s Secret Operations Executive(SOE). In late 1943, Kate parachutes into Southern France to aid the Resistance.