Friday, May 20, 2016

Our Own Gail Kittleson Talks Life and War on the Diamond Mine

Life and War on the Diamond Mine

In Times Like These

We have a special treat this weekend! One of our very own miners, Gail Kittleson has a new release and we’re celebrating! Make sure you check out the giveaway after the interview for your chance to win a copy. Without further ado, here we go…

RB: Hi, Gail! I’m so glad you could take a break from your busy day to join us on the Diamond Mine…this time as a guest.
GK: Thanks so much for having me, Renee. I appreciate the opportunity!

RB: You’re very welcome. That’s what the Diamond Mine is here for! We love to spread the Good News and your new book is definitely a way to do that. How about we dig into that great topic right now? Is there a favorite part of In Times Like These which stands out in your mind? Something you can share with the readers and fans?
GK: This is a hard one, but maybe a scene in Addie's chicken house, where her volatile husband Harold never goes, since he remembers being chased by roosters in childhood. The day before, he's gone all day, so Addie finally breaks out and changes something in the house that begs for attention.
In the morning when he spies what Addie did, Harold's so furious he risks going into the chicken coop to confront her. She's terrified. I don't want to spoil the scene, but I hope the reader will be right there with Addie, cheering her on as he faces her down.

RB: Is there a particular reason you chose your setting?
GK: Yes. They say you should write what you know, and I grew up on an Iowa farm in the fifties and sixties. So it's not so much that I chose the setting, as it chose me. Addie was a farm wife, and that demands a farm. I imagine an Illinois, Minnesota, or Wisconsin farm would have worked, but what I know is little old Iowa. Plain and simple, where people in my childhood made do after World War II.
But through writing Addie's story, I think I've realized more deeply how World War II's effects still permeated the lives of farm folk in the fifties. When you've sent your loved ones to a terrible war, when you've listened to the Fireside Chats in the dim light of your living room radio, calling you to more and more sacrifice for the cause, it changes you.
The war, like an ever-present thunderhead, lasted for four long years and colored ordinary people's lives far into the future. To better understand my parents, Greatest Generation members, studying the stateside effects of the war was helpful. My mom waited and prayed for not one, but TWO brothers to return from the fighting. My dad spent the entire war overseas, in more than one country. That has to change you forever.

RB: War’s reach is far and long. Its impact can be felt across the generations. By the way, how did you come up with your title, In Times Like These?
GK: This novel has had several titles. Because of the emphasis on its heroine Addie's victory garden, I first called it A Time For Flowers. Kind of like the touching story from our literature classes, Flowers for Algernon. But as time went on and I studied more about a novel's moral premise, I realized the story was bigger than that.
World War II's chaos all around the globe highlighted the battles Addie fought for her autonomy under her husband's tight control. The old hymn In Times Like These came to mind as I wrote, and the words seemed fitting. What's interesting was discovering this isn't a particularly "old" hymn - a woman wrote it during World War II!

RB: That’s awesome! I didn’t know that, Gail! I absolutely love these interviews…I learn such interesting things. And I know what you mean about books changing titles left and right. Mine do too. I think my novella Racing Hearts changed titles about four times before I finished writing it. Speaking of writing things, what’s easiest about writing for you?
GK: Characters come to me, often when I'm walking. But it took years for Addie, for example, to evolve into the fully dimensional character she is, and I didn't always understand what was going on. (Thing work better for me this way, actually. The less I know sometimes, the better things turn out.)
The character relates their story to me, so it's not my agenda filtering through the plot, it's HER STORY. What's amazing to me is how this whole process works. It's kind of like living a double life--maybe you have to be a little on the weird side, which is no problem for me, to be able to balance this existence?

RB: I can understand what you’re talking about there. It’s kind of neat to have the characters actually tell you the story instead of the other way around, isn’t it? God teaches me so much that way. But what happens if you get “stuck” in the process? What do you do for inspiration?
GK: Walking seems to help more than anything. In Iowa, it depends on the weather, but in the Arizona Mountains where we spend the worst winter months, almost every day provides a time good for walking. Even when it snows 24 inches, sometime that day, the sun will shine and you can get out to walk.
Something about the rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other, the beauty I see all around me, and the quiet—inspires answers to where I'm stuck. I pray for ideas/guidance/a way out of a sticky situation, and they come. I'm so grateful to be involved in this partnership.

RB: I may try that the next time I hit the literary brick wall. How has the Lord impacted your life?
GK: Believing that Jesus would never leave me was tough. I had a miserable sense that my bad thoughts would tear me from His grip. Once I went to my mom's pastor and shared my night terrors (that lasted all day long, too). He was a simple, kind man, and pointed me to John Bunyan's little book, Grace Abounding To the Greatest of Sinners. Not as well-known as Pilgrim's Progress, but written for fearful, trembling souls like me,
That small volume helped me so much--somebody else had felt as unworthy as I did, yet survived to believe God had his back no matter what. Great relieved sigh--although my doubts persisted years after that. But they gradually faded, and I can't be thankful enough for God's abiding presence in my life.

RB: Oh, Gail…God is good. Fear can be a powerful and destructive force in our lives. It can also be life-saving grace but not if it consumes us to the point we can’t live productively. I’m so grateful you trusted God to relieve you of that burden. As a Christian, what do you believe your role is in the world today?
GK: I used to think my spiritual gift was rescuing and fixing people. LOL Seriously, though, that's what I tried to do. Now I believe I'm here to use the gifts God's given me the very best I can and encourage others along the way. I also used to think we were supposed to understand everything. Giving up that goal is truly freeing!
Instead of endlessly trying to figure out everything, I attempt to embrace each moment as it comes. This is one of the themes in my memoir, and learning the ancient Benedictine practice of Lectio Divina (Divine reading) helped me a lot with this. Focusing on ONE Word the Holy Spirit highlights during my devotional times revolutionized my perspective. It's not so much FINDING the meaning for this day, but LISTENING and allowing Him to show me what to focus on.

RB: Well, you may be able to “rescue” someone, but only God can truly “fix” them. I’m glad He revealed that to you! Thanks for the fun interview and sharing so much about yourself. I can’t wait to read your new book, In Times Like These.
GK: Thanks so much, Renee, and anyone who's taken valuable time to stop by and read this article. I'd love to hear from you, so please feel free to contact me on Facebook or at



One winner selected by random draw!

One Kindle copy of In Times Like These awarded to one commenter (must leave e-mail address with comment).
Minimum of five comments required to validate contest. Drawing to be held one week following postdate of blog.

About the Book:

Pearl Harbor attacked! The United States is at war.
But Addie fights her own battles on the Iowa home front. Her controlling husband Harold vents his rage on her when his father's stoke prevents him from joining the military. He degrades Addie, ridicules her productive victory garden, and even labels her childlessness as God's punishment.
When he manipulates his way into a military unit bound for Normandy, Addie learns that her best friend Kate’s pilot husband has died on a mission, leaving her stranded in London in desperate straits.
Will Addie be able to help Kate, and find courage to trust God with her future?

About the Author:

Gail Kittleson taught college expository writing and English as a Second Language. Now she focuses on writing women’s fiction and facilitating writing workshops and women’s retreats. She and her husband enjoy family in northern Iowa, and the Arizona Ponderosa forest in winter.
You can count on Gail’s heroines to make do with what life hands them, and to overcome great odds. Her World War II fiction is set in Iowa, England, and Southern France.
Meeting new reading and writing friends is the meringue on Gail’s pie, as her heroines would say.


Gail Kittleson said...

Thanks for taking the time to interview me, Renee.

Ann Ellison said...

I enjoyed the interview with Gail. Please do not include me in the drawing as I have already had the opportunity to read this wonderful book.

KayM said...

I'm so glad I checked out the blog today. I also grew up in Iowa in the 1950's and 1960's. I didn't live on a farm, but spent alot of time on my grandparents' farm and also on the farm of my aunt and uncle. I definitely want to read this book. I'm putting it on my wish list as soon as I finish this comment. Thank you, Gail, for sharing about your book.

Renee Blare said...

You're welcome, Gail! Thanks, Ann and Kay for stopping by the blog! :)

Gail Kittleson said...

Hi Ann - thanks for always cheering me on. And Kay, I'm so glad to meet you. Where in Iowa did you live? You never know, maybe not so far away from Addie's farm!

Terrill R. said...

Gail, I was intrigued by your incident with night (day) terrors and the recommendation by your pastor. My daughter has struggled with OCD most of her life and, as with OCD, it varies in its severity and/or how the obsessions and compulsions manifest themselves. She struggles with sharing her obsessions, but many times her compulsive behavior is apparent. One obvious compulsion is her needing to pray obsessively. Now, most would say that isn't a bad thing, but it is often brought on by her fears, doubts, and, often times, unnecessary guilt. She is 17 and seeking to alleviate this burden. I would love to look into John Bunyan's book and possibly recommend it or read it along with her. Thank you. tlhcoupon(at)hotmail(dot)com

Gail Kittleson said...

Thanks for stopping by, Terrill. You know, I never thought of my persistent doubts as an obsession, but I can see how they might fall into that category. I felt like such a sinner b/c of them, and it took years and years to find reassurance that many folks seem to enjoy so easily. But because of this struggle, I delved deep into the Bible, memorized lots of verses, and I think that practice helped me a lot. Beyond that, though, I've needed counseling through the years to help me through various situations.
Sometimes watching a loved one struggle - especially a child, is so VERY difficult that the observer needs to seek out an objective professional for their own well-being. At least, that's been the case for me.

Terrill R. said...

Thank you, Gail. We have definitely sought counsel through the years and are again actively seeking. It is really hard to find good Christian counsel near us. What you have experienced sounds very much like my daughter, Sadie. I can see where I have failed her, as well and how I need to be more consistent with my support in whatever way she needs it.

It has been so encouraging to hear how you have struggled and sought the Lord throughout your struggles. Thank you for sharing.