Rockstar Book Tours Blog Tour, Interview, and Giveaway: Night Witches (Kathryn Lasky)
Title: NIGHT WITCHES
Author: Kathryn Lasky
Pub. Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
From bestselling and award-winning author Kathryn Lasky comes an explosive adventure following the teen girl fighter pilots who took on Hitler's army . . . and won.
Fifteen-year-old Valya knows what it feels like to fly. She's a pilot who's always felt more at home soaring through the sky than down on earth. But since the Germans surrounded Stalingrad, Valya's been forced to stay on the ground and watch her city crumble.
When her mother is killed during the siege, Valya is left with one burning desire: to join up with her older sister, a member of the famous and feared Night Witches -- a brigade of young female pilots.
Using all her wits, Valya manages to get past the German blockade and find the Night Witches' base . . . and that's when the REAL danger starts. The women have been assigned a critical mission. If they succeed, they'll inflict serious damage on the Nazis. If they fail, they'll face death . . . or even worse horrors.
Historical fiction master Lasky sheds light on the war's unsung heroes -- daredevil girls who took to the skies to fight for their country -- in an action-packed thrill ride that'll leave you electrified and breathless.
Meet Kathryn Lasky!
Kathryn Lasky is the American author of many critically acclaimed books, including several Dear America books, several Royal Diaries books, 1984 Newbery Honor winning Sugaring Time, The Night Journey, and the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series.
She was born June 24, 1944, and grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is married to Christopher Knight, with whom she lives in Massachusetts.
Book 15,The War of the Ember, is currently the last book in the Ga'Hoole series. The Rise of a Legend is the 16th book but is a prequel to the series. Lasky has also written Guide Book To The Great Tree and Lost Tales Of Ga'Hoole which are companion books.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in Night Witches?
Well, of course I love the main character Valya. She combines everything I try to get into a really great character—vulnerability, first and foremost, doubt, anger but passion. She is fiercely competitive and sometimes doesn’t know when to back off. That is both a strength and a weakness—especially if you’re a Night Witch.
But there are many other characters, minor ones that I loved creating. One is Mara Tretorov. I say more about her later in this blog. She is the squadron commander. She has a beautiful singing voice. Also another minor character is a boy no more than eleven, Mikhail who was a gunner in the trenches of Stalingrad shooting out the advancing Nazi tanks. But he was also a gifted young pianist. The war had interrupted his plans to study with a renowned teacher at a music academy.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
Oddly enough –and this has not happened before—the title and the idea for the book came at the same time—when I read the obituary of Nadezhda Popova, the last Night Witch, in the New York Times. I was instantly fascinated and knew immediately that NIGHT WITCHES had to be the title.
YABC: What scene in Night Witches are you most proud of, and why?
So the word proud is kind of an iffy word for me to use. Perhaps challenging would be better. When I can pull off one of these challenging scenes I feel good. This is a novel about war. So there is a lot of death—violent death. It’s hard to imagine these scenes sitting in my cozy study warm, well fed, etc. The most dangerous thing for me—say today, is a freezing cold one with wind chill dragging the temperatures to negative 4 degrees with the icicles hanging off our house are those icicles! Our house grows major icicles, several feet long. If one fell on me when I was walking out the door it would not be good. But how the heck can I compare that to being in a fragile little plane shot out of the sky by Nazi anti aircraft guns? How do I recreate the fear those young women pilots experienced day in day out during a very long war?
YABC: But of course, the story is not just about death. How do you weave the lighter, human moments into the narrative?
Valya was at first a navigator for the Night Witches before she was a pilot. She navigated for a pilot name Mara who had a beautiful singing voice. The cockpits on the plane are open. Near dawn as they are flying home after a bombing mission Mara begins to sing a song. Right now I can’t remember the song. It might have been Dvorˇák’s “Song to the Moon” from the opera Rusalka. But the scene offered this foil to war. I tried to create something unearthly and fragile yet strong at the same time. I think I wanted to say something about the fragility of life but the power of art.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to write?
I think the hardest was when Valya has to tell her sister about the death of their mother.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I like them both. However, it’s only been in the last ten years that I realize I like revising most. When you revise you can take the story to a much deeper level and discover possibilities in the narrative that you never knew existed.
YABC: Are you brave and honorable like the real Night witches? What would you say is your superpower?
I think I’m honorable. But I would never ever be brave enough to be a Night Witch. I think my superpower is my doggedness. I always believe—at least in my work—that there is a way to solve a problem. I feel I can write my way out of something seemingly impossible if I just think hard enough.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart – one that you would risk death for?
Yes there are two organizations very close to my heart. Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union. I don’t think I need to elaborate on why.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
Next for me is something quite different from Night W itches or any of my animal fantasy books. It is a time travel trilogy about a 21st century girl who travels between Indiana and 16th century England where she serves in the court of Princess Elizabeth who ultimately becomes Queen Elizabeth I. The series is called Mean Queens. I love working on it. Years ago I wrote the Royal Diaries which were fictional diaries kept by real princesses. So these were all told from the royal point of view. But I always wondered what it was like to be a servant to one of these princesses. I guess you can say I have sort of come not full circle but half-circle. I’ve always been fascinated by time travel. I think it allows a person to live two lives in the space of one.
3 winners will receive a finished copy of NIGHT WITCHES, US Only.
3/20/2017- The Best Books Ever - Excerpt
3/21/2017- My Thoughts Literally- Review
3/22/2017- Wandering Bark Books- Guest Post
3/23/2017- La La in the Library- Review
3/24/2017- YA Books Central- Interview
3/27/2017- Quartzfeather- Review
3/28/2017- BookHounds YA- Guest Post
3/29/2017- Under the Book Cover- Review
3/30/2017- Bibliobibuli YA- Interview
3/31/2017- History from a Woman's Perspective- Review