Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Historical Fiction writer Kristin Harmel.
Kristin, can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your work? How would you like us to introduce you?
Thanks so much for having me! I’m the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including the most recent two: The Forest of Vanishing Stars and The Book of Lost Names. I’m also one of the founders of FRIENDS & FICTION, a Facebook group (with more than 50,000 members), and a weekly web show (which airs on Facebook and YouTube) where I–along with co-hosts Mary Kay Andrews, Kristy Woodson Harvey, and Patti Callahan Henry — interview other writers and discuss the world behind our favorite books–all in support of independent booksellers!
Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)
Yes, you should definitely check Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester first. I’m a big believer in supporting locally-owned businesses when we can. I certainly make my share of Target, Walmart, Costco and Amazon purchases, too, but I try to balance it out by purchasing locally whenever I’m able to. It’s a great way to keep your local community thriving–and to keep the doors to local bookstores open. That said, you can find my books pretty much anywhere books are sold (or at your local library!).
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram; check in with me on my website at www.KristinHarmel.com; check out my Events page; and of course, don’t forget to join us over on Friends & Fiction, where we air a new live show every Wednesday night at 7pm ET (and where you can watch nearly 100 of our previous shows, too). Join us on Facebook, too!
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from [newest release/spotlighted release]?
I write fiction set during World War II, in which ordinary citizens find it within themselves to rise up and do extraordinary things in the face of great darkness.
What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?
I wrote my first World War II novel, The Sweetness of Forgetting (which came out in 2012) more than a decade ago, because the subject matter fascinated me. It was before World War II had really become a popular standalone genre, and I thought at the time that I would write one WW2 book and then move on to something else. But I was so moved by what I’d uncovered in the research process that I soon began work on another fact-based WW2 story… and honestly, I haven’t been able to stop. There are so many fascinating untold (or undertold) stories about the war, and I think so many of them feel very relevant today, even nearly eight decades later. I think it’s very powerful, as a reader, to be exposed to true snippets of history that are still applicable to life today, in a way that engages both heart and head. That’s what I look for when I read historical fiction, and I hope it’s what readers find in my books, too!
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
I think I’m most moved by the sense of community among writers, and also between writers, readers, and booksellers. There are so many things separating us, but those who love books can always find something in common, even if our religions and political viewpoints don’t always align. That’s something I’ve really seen firsthand over the last year and a half with Friends & Fiction, which is truly a community in the best way. People come to our group from all walks of life, but even during the tumultuous 2020 election, and the ups and downs of the pandemic, we found common ground and a safe, supportive place with each other. I’ve been floored by the kindness of other authors, too. From the outside, it might be easy to assume that we compete for book sales, but in reality, the majority of the authors I know are good, kind people who are happy to lift each other up. Being a part of Friends & Fiction, and realizing that my community has been there all along, has truly changed my life. All of you (as readers and booksellers!) are part of that wonderful community of booklovers, too.
How important has the New England setting been to your writing?
Very! I’m originally from Massachusetts, and in fact, my first World War II novel, The Sweetness of Forgetting, takes place partially on Cape Cod, where I spent portions of each summer with my grandparents when I was growing up.
Do you have any favorite foods or drinks that must be in the vicinity (or must be avoided) while you’re writing or editing a piece of work?
Coffee. I live on coffee. And Haribo Gold Bears!
Kristin, thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions!