Today’s guest is bestselling Kindle author Kathleen Shoop. Her second historical fiction novel, After the Fog, is set in 1948 Donora, Pennsylvania. The mill town’s “killing smog” was one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, triggering clean air advocacy and eventually, the Clean Air Act. Kathleen’s debut novel, The Last Letter, sold more than 50,000 copies and garnered multiple awards in 2011, including the Independent Publisher Awards Gold Medal. A Language Arts Coach with a Ph.D. in Reading Education, Kathleen lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.
For every woman who thinks she left her past behind… Rose Pavlesic is a straight-talking, gifted nurse who is also controlling and demanding. She has to be to ensure her life is mistake-free and to create a life for her children that reflects everything she missed as an orphaned child. Rose has managed to keep her painful secrets buried, away from her loving husband–who she discovers has secrets of his own–their children and their extended, complicated family.
But, as a stagnant weather cycle works to trap poisonous gasses from the three mills in town, Rose’s nursing career thrusts her into a conflict of interest she never could have fathomed–putting the lives of her loved ones at risk and forcing her to come face to face with her past.
Kathleen’s exhaustive research for After the Fog included reading volumes of nursing reports and handwritten/typed accounts of what community/public health nurses did for a living. Her research also included the Nursing Manual: Public Health Nursing Association of Pittsburgh (1941), Community Health Association: Nursing Technique (1930) and the Donora Historical Society. Here, she provides insights into crafting characters from clay to when they take their first breath. Enjoy!
Crafting characters is one of the most enjoyable parts of writing a novel. Authors want their characters to leap off the page, sit beside readers, and yank them through the story by the hand.
When I break out the literary clay, I can’t help but think of USA Network’s tagline, “Characters Welcome.” To sculpt the people of my books I explore their pasts, career paths, and the historical context of the setting. For example, considering issues such as traditional gender roles of the time and studying the bold outliers who defy expectations for their era. Simple enough. [Read more…]